A week ago prospects for some early spring birding at Presqu'ile looked pretty good, but the recent freeze-up of most of Presqu'ile Bay has forced a postponement, but not before a few new arrivals.
Two AMERICAN WIGEONS were off the government dock for over a week, and a third one was there on one day. The first two NORTHERN PINTAILS, both females, showed up on February 26, and four were in the bay two days later. As long as there were patches of open water in Presqu'ile Bay, there were thousands of REDHEADS and GREATER SCAUP, some of which are still there. The rest are likely just waiting for a change in the wind to open up some more patches so that they can return from the open water of Lake Ontario. A sprinkling of CANVASBACKS and one or two RING-NECKED DUCKS among the tight flocks present a challenge to the patience of birders. For the last four days of February, i.e., before the freeze-up, WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS could be regularly seen near Salt Point. A significant influx of COMMON MERGANSERS, estimated at 350, appeared on February 28, but had mostly moved on by the next day. BALD EAGLES, up to three individuals, were seen on three different days this week. A SHARP-SHINNED HAWK scattered the birds from one of the feeders. RING-BILLED GULLS have returned en masse to their breeding grounds on Gull Island. Only one SNOWY OWL was seen this week, the long-staying bird on Gull Island.
Not in the category of new arrivals but of interest to visiting birders, both RED-BELLIED and PILEATED WOODPECKERS have been seen this week. COMMON RAVENS have again been seen doing their mid-air courtship. Unlike the loose flocks that winter at Presqu'ile, single AMERICAN ROBINS have been scouting out local lawns. (Yes, lawns are largely bare, Presqu'ile having missed most of the snowfall that occurred elsewhere in southern Ontario.) Two RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS arrived at a feeder at 102 Bayshore Road on Tuesday. PURPLE FINCHES are now regular at several feeders, but PINE SISKINS have not been seen since Saturday.
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 may need to wade through water that is knee-deep when calm and is usually obscured by a layer of ice in winter. They may also encounter a slippery coating of ice on the rocks. Ice cleats are recommended.
Access to the offshore islands is restricted from March 10 onward to prevent disturbance to the colonial nesting birds there.
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.