As this report is being written, winter has returned with a vengeance to Presqu'ile Provincial Park. Through the past week, however, there have been tantalizing hints that the next season is about to arrive.
There was an unconfirmed report of a Snow Goose on February 23. With Presqu'ile Bay being more than half ice-covered, there have been fewer Canada Geese there than in previous weeks. Several dozen were grazing on Gull Island on March 1. Mute Swans remain as numerous as ever, mostly concentrated on the north side of Presqu'ile Bay, where there is open water. As yet the only dabbling ducks at Presqu'ile are American Black Ducks and Mallards. Probably by the time the Waterfowl Viewing Festival begins on March 10, there will be a few others, perhaps Gadwalls or Northern Pintails. The hundreds of Greater Scaup that were in the Park through most of the winter have been augmented by new arrivals and now number in the thousands, among which are a few Canvasbacks and Redheads. Single White-winged Scoters have been seen several times between Salt Point and the lighthouse, the same area where a male Barrow's Goldeneye has become a fixture. It was erroneously stated in last week's report that it had last been seen on January 21, but that should have been February 21. Every day in the past week it has been feeding in front of 186 Bayshore Road, retreating to the lighthouse only when ice cover drives it there temporarily. A few Red-breasted Mergansers are also in that area on most days.
Two Ruffed Grouse were feeding in the top of a very tall deciduous tree along Paxton Drive. Ring-billed Gulls have returned to Gull Island by the thousands and some are beginning to stake out their territories.
The Northern Shrike that has appeared irregularly all winter at the calf pasture was seen there on February 24. A few more American Crows have arrived than were present all winter, and one American Robin near the lighthouse on the morning of March 1 was also thought to be a new arrival. Three Brown-headed Cowbirds continue to visit the feeder at 85 Bayshore Road. A lone Snow Bunting was on Gull Island on March 1.
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. The channels separating Gull Island from Owen Point are frozen over, but the coming weekend will be the last until September for accessing the island, partly because the ice will soon disappear and partly because of the access restrictions that apply in spring and summer.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.