Only a few die-hard birders have checked out Presqu'ile Provincial Park this week, and consequently there is little to report by way of observations.
Up until the weekend, March-like ice conditions in Presqu'ile Bay enabled thousands of ducks to gather where they could easily be identified. Subsequently, the bay froze over and forced them into the open water of Lake Ontario, where viewing conditions were more challenging, especially during the extremely cold temperatures, when fog hanging over the first few metres above the water all but obscured the ducks and other waterfowl. With a recent wind change, the outer part of the bay is opening up and the ducks are beginning to return.
Only one each of TRUMPETER SWAN and TUNDRA SWAN were noticed before the freeze-up. A NORTHERN PINTAIL near Owen Point on January 18 was of interest. On the weekend there were still thousands of REDHEADS and GREATER SCAUP and lesser numbers of CANVASBACKS, RING-NECKED DUCKS, and WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS in Presqu'ile Bay. Those numbers are much diminished now, at least in that location.
The BARROW'S GOLDENEYE at the lighthouse has been present every day this year, though during the height of the freeze-up yesterday it forsook its regular haunts and swam in and out of the fog in the open lake, only to return to the vicinity of the red buoy today. The HOODED MERGANSER that was with the REDHEADS on January 19 was a male, unlike the one that had been seen the previous week. Also on that day, the COMMON LOON that has been wintering in Presqu'ile Bay was seen again. It is likely the waterfowl that have attracted at least two BALD EAGLES and a PEREGRINE FALCON to the area. The former have been seen in ones and twos (adult and immature) on most days in the past week, both on the ice and in the air, and the latter was on the ice on January 18. There were independent sightings of a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK on the offshore islands. The most recent AMERICAN COOT sighting was two days ago, a lone individual looking forlorn at the edge of the ice and in the fog. An ICELAND GULL was present on January 18. Two SNOWY OWLS have been on the offshore islands.
Single BARRED OWLS were in three different locations yesterday, all seen from a car! A minor invasion of GREAT GRAY OWLS to parts of eastern Ontario in recent weeks suggests that birders visiting Presqu'ile in the next few weeks might also find one or more of that irruptive species. No one in the past week has reported the BOREAL CHICKADEE at the entrance to Lilac Lane, but it seems likely that it is still there. A big surprise was an AMERICAN PIPIT on Gull Island on January 18, almost but not quite a record late date. A WHITE-THROATED SPARROW is an irregular visitor to the feeders at 186 Bayshore Road, where COMMON REDPOLLS are feeding frequently.
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” can walk across the gap without special footwear. Ice conditions may make for slippery walking. 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.