As in most of southern Ontario, winter conditions persist at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, and the preponderance of bird sightings reflects that.
Swans have been the flavour of the week. Hundreds of MUTE SWANS have been in Presqu'ile Bay all week, even when it is frozen over. The high count was a record 586 individuals on January 18. In addition, the two adult and two immature TRUMPETER SWANS mentioned in last week's report were also there on that day and two TUNDRA SWANS, the first of the season, were there yesterday. The hoped for influx of REDHEADS in the wake of last weekend's short-lived mild spell failed to materialize, but a female CANVASBACK on January 18 and a male RING-NECKED DUCK on January 19 were welcome substitutes. RUFFED GROUSE are year-round residents of the Park, but are seldom seen, an exception occurring on January 20. A few interesting raptors have been around, most notably BALD EAGLES. They were hanging around the ice of Presqu'ile Bay from January 16 -19, with four seen at once on January 18. They are not likely far away, even now; in fact, one flew past just after this was written. A NORTHERN HARRIER and two different COOPER'S HAWKS were also seen, an adult of the latter that sat and monitored a bird feeder for almost an hour and a juvenile that flew in from across the bay. Just outside the Park, a RED-SHOULDERED HAWK has been seen repeatedly at the south end of Ontario Street, probably the same bird that frequented that area last winter. A few RED-TAILED HAWKS round out that group. Three RING-BILLED GULLS, the first of the season, were seen on January 18. Not to be outdone by the hawks, a few owls have also been seen this week: a lone remaining SNOWY OWL yesterday, a BARRED OWL on January 19, and the prize bird of the week, a LONG-EARED OWL, discovered by crows, that was seen several times on January 16 but has not been found since then.
A PILEATED WOODPECKER was again seen this week. NORTHERN SHRIKES were seen in widely separated parts of the Park. A HERMIT THRUSH near the lighthouse on January 16 was nowhere near the one seen two days earlier. A flock of 25 AMERICAN ROBINS has been taking advantage of the unusual presence (in January) of an extensive lawn. CEDAR WAXWINGS have been absent all winter but two flocks appeared this week not far from Presqu'ile, so these wanderers may soon show up. A flock of 10-15 SNOW BUNTINGS was on Gull Island last Saturday. The PINE WARBLER present for the past weeks continues to be a regular visitor at the bird sightings board feeder, where a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW was also seen on January 16 and 17. Another WHITE-THROATED SPARROW and a WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW continue to patronize the feeders at 83 and 85 Bayshore Road. COMMON REDPOLLS are being seen daily, the largest group, variously estimated at 80-110 birds, frequenting 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 prepared to wade through water that is knee-deep, not taking into account any wave action, in which there is often a swift current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven and slippery. 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.