Although conditions at Presqu'ile Provincial Park have become much more wintry than a week ago, some of the birds that lingered later than usual are still being found. With the solstice behind us and the days gradually lengthening, the first spring arrivals will soon be here (see below). You read it first here.
There has been a concentration of GADWALLS off High Bluff Island, with 33 counted on December 24. Three NORTHERN PINTAILS and a GREEN-WINGED TEAL were alongside the causeway leading into the Park before that area froze over and may still be in the vicinity. Last year the first returning CANVASBACKS appeared during the first few days of January and were seen regularly from then on. Typically they return in either the last week of December or the first week of January. The male BARROW'S GOLDENEYE at the lighthouse re-appeared on Sunday and has been present every day this week. On December 24, two RED-THROATED LOONS were in the area between Salt Point and the lighthouse and a COMMON LOON was in the latter area on the day before. Single HORNED GREBES were in two locations on December 24. On the same day, an immature BALD EAGLE was perched all morning on High Bluff Island and was seen again on the following day. (Even on Christmas Day keen birders do their thing!) A NORTHERN HARRIER was on Gull Island on the day before and the day after Christmas, and a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK was there on December26. Three PURPLE SANDPIPERS were on Gull Island on December 23 and four on December 25, but none could be found on December 24 or 26. They obviously move around, playing games with birders. A late BONAPARTE'S GULL was at Chatterton Point on December 24. Most of the SNOWY OWLS appear to have left, but one was off Gull Island on December 24.
RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS have been seen at least twice in the past week. A WINTER WREN and a YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER at the lighthouse on December 26 were both unusual for this late in the season. WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS are wintering at 83 and 186 Bayshore Road. SNOW BUNTINGS can reliably be found on Gull Island. Yesterday six PINE GROSBEAKS were opposite 18 Bayshore Road, where they have been seen from time to time for the past month. Also yesterday, a single HOARY REDPOLL accompanied the COMMON REDPOLLS at the feeder at 186 Bayshore Road. Many of the latter are regularly seen on the weed-filled Gull Island.
To reach Presqu'ile Provincial Park, follow the signs from Brighton. Locations within the Park are shown on a map at the back of a tabloid that is available at the Park gate. Visitors to Gull "Island” not using a boat should be able to walk across the gap without special footwear unless a wind change creates a gap of shallow water. Birders are encouraged to record their observations on the bird sightings board provided near the campground office by The Friends of Presqu'ile Park and to fill out a rare bird report for species not listed there.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.