The marsh at Presqu'ile Provincial Park has frozen over several times in the past week. Moreover, there have been below normal temperatures during most of that period. Those conditions and some inclement weather have discouraged birders from searching out those birds that remain in the Park. However, feeders have been more active than usual.
Seven each of Gadwalls and American Wigeons and a single Northern Pintail are the high counts of the more uncommon dabbling ducks seen at Presqu'ile this week. On November 22, a female Harlequin Duck, the first of the season, was off the waterfront between the amphitheatre and the woodpile marsh. Both that bird and a female Black Scoter off Gull Island on November 20 were consorting with Buffleheads when first seen, suggesting that it pays to give a second look at the many flocks of the latter species. There are still seven Hooded Mergansers in the unfrozen portions of the marsh. A single Ruddy Duck was with the Greater Scaup flock in Popham Bay on November 17 and 19. The most recent Red-throated Loon sighting was on November 17, but a few Common Loons have been seen almost every day since then. A few Pied-billed Grebes are still present and three Horned Grebes on November 17 were the most recent ones of that species. A Double-crested Cormorant was in Presqu'ile Bay on November 16, and another was on the north side of the bay (outside the Park) on November 21. Even after the marsh froze over, a single Great Blue Heron has been spotted a few times in the marsh.
Two different Bald Eagles were seen recently, one on November 16 at the lighthouse and another two days later flying from there to the calf pasture. A Northern Goshawk flew past the lighthouse on November 19. Wild Turkeys seldom enter the Park and normally only one at a time, but a group of four crossed the road not far inside the park gate on November 16 and three were in that same area two days later. There are still American Coots among the reeds off Bayshore Road.
The Ruddy Turnstone that has been frequenting Sebastopol Island for several weeks and still there on November 22 seems determined to tie or break the record late date of November 24. On November 22, the long-awaited Purple Sandpipers finally put in their appearance. Two were with the Ruddy Turnstone and three others were on Gull Island, two of which were with a half dozen Dunlins. Two of the Wilson's Snipe that have been lingering near the causeway leading into the Park were still there on November 21.
A Barred Owl was seen on November 18. An immature Northern Shrike was at the beginning of the Owen Point trail and an adult was found sitting on a lawn near the lighthouse, apparently stunned after likely having struck a window. The occupants of the house are hoping that it recovered and went on its way without having discovered the Carolina Wren that has been visiting their feeder. Another of the latter species was seen at 83 Bayshore Road on November 16.
A flock of 13 American Robins near the Park store on November 19 is likely to remain for the winter. Their fondness for buckthorn or other berries is shared by waxwings, which have been scarce at Presqu'ile this fall. In the light of observations elsewhere, Bohemian Waxwings may soon be appearing. American Pipits were flying around Gull Island on the late date of November 22, perhaps as many as 20 birds. The latest sighting of a Yellow-rumped Warbler was on November 17. A Chipping Sparrow and three Fox Sparrows, all very late, were at 83 Bayshore Road on November 16 and one of the latter was still there on November 19. A White-throated Sparrow was there on the following day. A Red-winged Blackbird and five Common Grackles have also been there.
Four Pine Grosbeaks were opposite the government dock on November 20. A Purple Finch visited a feeder at 186 Bayshore Road on November 18. Over 100 Common Redpolls and a possible Hoary Redpoll were on Sebastopol Island on November 22. Pine Siskins and American Goldfinches can often be found at 83 and 85 Bayshore Road.
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. It should be noted that, because duck hunting is given priority on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Owen Point, Gull Peninsula, Sebastopol Island, High Bluff Island, 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.