Below normal temperatures have persisted without interruption for almost two weeks at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, and this has caused birding activity to be fairly static throughout that period. Despite the cold weather, the wind has been steadily from the west, which has kept Presqu'ile Bay from freezing over except for brief periods. Consequently, anyone willing to put up with the wind chill has been able to see a good variety of waterfowl from places like the calf pasture, the government dock, Langdon Avenue, and Salt Point. A spotting scope is usually helpful. It will take a significant change in the weather to trigger a real influx of migrants, but optimists can take note of the fact that it is only eleven days until the date of the first American Woodcock to appear a few years ago.
An estimated 800 Canada Geese and 300 Mute Swans were in Presqu'ile Bay on February 12, as well as five Tundra Swans. A few Canvasbacks and a few dozen Redheads have been there throughout the week. A Ring-necked Duck, perhaps the same one that was present on January 22, was seen at the end of Langdon Avenue on February 12. The Barrow's Goldeneye that has frequented the area around the lighthouse since at least January 22 was still there on February 10 and is probably still in the area.
At least two Bald Eagles, an adult and an immature, have provided irregular sightings, about every second day (one of each in the past couple of hours). A Northern Harrier was hunting over High Bluff Island and another flew over the opposite end of the Park. Red-tailed Hawks have also been present.
Pileated Woodpeckers are never unusual at Presqu'ile, but they are always of some interest, and when other forest birds are scarce they can often be counted on to put in an appearance, and have done so this week. A few American Robins are also always present, even in mid-winter. Cedar Waxwings have been scarce this winter, but a few of them were feeding with robins at the west end of the calf pasture, and a flock of 16 was at the lighthouse parking lot on February 15. A Red-winged Blackbird, the first at Presqu'ile since mid-December, was at 83 Bayshore Road on February 12.
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. Although the channels separating Gull Island from Owen Point appear to be frozen over, the thickness of the ice is probably unreliable because of the underlying currents, and the water below the ice is deeper than usual.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.