At Presqu'ile Provincial Park, the first few days of December have been interesting for birders, with a number of birds being seen that are not often found here in December.
On December 5, a Common Loon was in the inner part of Presqu'ile Bay and a Pied-billed Grebe was at the calf pasture. Horned Grebes were seen on December 4 opposite 38 Bayshore Road and on December 7 at the lighthouse. Single Double-crested Cormorants were in Presqu'ile Bay on four of the past seven days.
A small flock of Tundra Swans was at the calf pasture on December 4 (9 birds) and 5 (five birds). American Wigeons were in the marsh until December 4, after which there was no more open water. Two male Harlequin Ducks appeared off Sebastopol Island on December 7. In the outer part of Presqu'ile Bay, between Salt Point and the lighthouse, there was a male Surf Scoter on December 5. Several dozen White-winged Scoters are at the lighthouse and farther west along the shore of the lake. The latest sighting of Hooded Mergansers was of two birds on December 2.
A Sharp-shinned Hawk was seen twice at 186 Bayshore Road. On December 7, a small flight of buteos was observed: two Red-tailed Hawks and a Rough-legged Hawk.
At least 24 shorebirds were in the Gull Island area on December 7. Seven of them were Purple Sandpipers, the highest total yet this year, two others were Dunlins that have been lingering around Owen Point for some time, and the rest were unidentified as they flew off in the distance but were likely also Purple Sandpipers. There still are good numbers of Bonaparte's Gulls in that area also.
A Rock Pigeon, fairly rare at Presqu'ile, appeared on December 7. On December 5, a Park employee doing a pre-dawn survey heard a Barred Owl near the Park office and saw a Great Horned Owl along the Pioneer Trail. A Belted Kingfisher was still at the calf pasture on December 5. Also on that date, the same observers found an American
Three-toed Woodpecker near the bird sightings board, the second of that species to be seen at Presqu'ile in less than a month.
A Northern Shrike has been seen sporadically at the calf pasture, and another was just outside the Park. A Winter Wren flew out from under a boardwalk north-west of the Nature Centre. Hermit Thrushes were seen on two consecutive days, probably different birds. The first was all alone near the north-west corner of the group campground, whereas the second was with a flock of American Robins at 38 Bayshore Road. Two observers saw a Yellow-rumped Warbler at Owen Point on December 5. Unlike the few winter records of that species, this bird was probably a very late migrant. In contrast, the Red-winged Blackbird and the handful of Common Grackles that have been frequenting feeders along Bayshore Road are likely to remain for the winter.
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. Gull Island is once again an island, the connection to the mainland having been severed last weekend. Visitors to Gull Island should be prepared to wade through knee-deep water in which there is often a swift current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven. Hip waders are essential. The surrounding shoreline can be very slippery. It should also be noted that, because duck hunting is given priority on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Gull Island, High Bluff Island, Sebastopol Island, Owen Point, and part of the calf pasture are not available for bird-watching on those days.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.