Until today typical mid-winter birding has prevailed at Presqu'ile Provincial Park. The current thaw has been accompanied by the first stirrings of spring migration.
Well over 300 MUTE SWANS are now in Presqu'ile Bay. REDHEADS have been apparently absent since mid-December, but a January thaw invariably brings the first of that species. By 9:00 this morning the first two flew in and landed near the lighthouse. More kept arriving all morning and by mid-afternoon there were several flocks of a dozen or so flying around. Again this week one or two WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS can be found on most days. There have been two separate sightings of RUFFED GROUSE this week. WILD TURKEYS continue to make appearances, including one near the lighthouse parking lot. In years when inland waters have frozen solid, RED-NECKED GREBES occasionally show up on the Great Lakes, and this year seems likely to have provided the right conditions for that to happen.
Both adult and immature BALD EAGLES are being seen almost every day. A NORTHERN HARRIER was photographed flying past the lighthouse on January 9. SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, COOPER'S HAWK, RED-TAILED HAWK, and MERLIN, as well as two SNOWY OWLS, have also been seen during the past week. A flock of CEDAR WAXWINGS, the first in several weeks, was present yesterday and today. On Tuesday, two LAPLAND LONGSPURS, well photographed, accompanied the flock of SNOW BUNTINGS that has been regular around Gull Island and Owen Point.
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 aware that the ice between Owen Point and the island may or may not support the weight of a human. They may also encounter a slippery coating of ice on the rocks. Ice cleats are recommended. 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.