Not many reports have reached me with information about bird life in Presqu'ile Provincial Park in the past week, but those few contained several interesting sightings. At least one of those would be a real bonus if it stayed until Sunday, when an outing of the Ontario Field Ornithologists will be visiting the Park.
The two SNOW GEESE first spotted on November 8 were still present yesterday. Three TUNDRA SWANS seen on Monday were the only ones of that species this week. Dabbling ducks of eight species have been seen fairly regularly from the camp office viewing deck overlooking the marsh. Included among them have been WOOD DUCK, GADWALL, NORTHERN SHOVELER, and NORTHERN PINTAIL. Thousands of REDHEADS continue to produce quite a spectacle in Presqu'ile Bay, successfully dodging at least some of the hunters by congregating in large rafts towards the lighthouse. SURF, WHITE-WINGED, and BLACK SCOTERS have all been present in the waters around the Park. Two RING-NECKED DUCKS and a HOODED MERGANSER on Saturday and a RUDDY DUCK yesterday were among the less frequently seen ducks.
Two RUFFED GROUSE were heard drumming in "the fingers" on Sunday, and an anonymous observer reported six WILD TURKEYS. In the wild weather of last Friday, an observer standing in the wind hoping for CAVE SWALLOWS at Chatterson Point saw a procession of westbound RED-THROATED LOONS (but no swallows). DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS and GREAT BLUE HERONS are still around in small numbers, most recently two of the former yesterday and two of the latter today. A hawk that resembled a NORTHERN GOSHAWK disappeared into the trees near Owen Point before being conclusively identified. Another was apparently reported in Jobes' Woods some days earlier. Until today, the only shorebird species of the week was DUNLIN, but that was eclipsed this morning by a repeat appearance of a RED PHALAROPE on the beach and a subsequent sighting of it at Owen Point, possibly the same individual that was seen on November 3 and 4 but not found since then. Strong westerly winds that blew a number of rare FRANKLIN'S GULLS into southern Ontario have not yet brought any to Presqu'ile but those gulls are worth watching for. The Park has none of the agricultural fields that they favour but does have habitat suitable for the 'WHITE-WINGED" GULLS that are now due. The SNOWY OWL that first appeared a week ago was found again on three offshore islands on Sunday and Wednesday.
BELTED KINGFISHERS are not common at this time of year in the Park, but one flew past the lighthouse on Monday. SNOW BUNTINGS were on Gull Island and on the beach in good numbers on Sunday . Single YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS were seen on two different days near Owen Point and on one of those days (Sunday) at Chatterson Point. Good numbers of RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS (up to 65) and COMMON GRACKLES (at least 8) doing the rounds of Bayshore Road feeders were accompanied on Friday by a RUSTY BLACKBIRD. A small number of HOUSE SPARROWS now makes their home at Presqu'ile.
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. It should also be noted that, because duck hunting is on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Gull Island, High Bluff Island, and part of the calf pasture are not available for bird-watching on those days. 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