Now that February has arrived at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, birds are on the move again. Though it can hardly be called more than the initial stirrings of spring migration, the arrival of a few returning species despite the nasty weather of recent days is encouraging to those of us who have had enough of winter. The beginnings of bird song this week are another harbinger of spring.
Tundra Swans have been easy to find in Presqu'ile Bay through most of the past week. Two Gadwalls were there on February 4 and two American Wigeons were at Gull Island the next day. At least eight, and possibly as many as twelve, Northern Pintails also arrived on February 5. Canvasbacks, Redheads, and White-winged Scoters, as well as more common ducks, are constantly present in Presqu'ile Bay even when there are only small patches of open water. Off Gull Island a female Harlequin Duck was swimming with a small group of Greater Scaup on February 3, and two days later another observer saw three ducks in flight that were probably also that species.
An adult and an immature Bald Eagle flew over the Park on February 7, a Northern Harrier was over High Bluff Island on February 3, and on each of the next two days Rough-legged Hawks, the first of the season, were flying over.
With flocks of Horned Larks appearing not far from Presqu'ile, there is a good chance that they will soon be returning to the Park as well. Black-capped Chickadees and House Finches have been in full song this week. Every day except one for the past three weeks, the Carolina Wren at 186 Bayshore Road has put in at least one appearance. A Golden-crowned Kinglet was also seen along Bayshore Road, as were four American Robins, doubtless over-wintering birds. A flock of 60 Bohemian Waxwings with a few Cedar Waxwings was near the bird sightings board on February 4, and later that day a flock of 90 of the former was near the Park gate. A flock of eight Snow Buntings on the roadside at the calf pasture on February 5 was clearly a newly returned group, unlike the four that were at Gull Island two days earlier. A Common Grackle is a daily visitor to the feeders at 186 Bayshore Road. On the other hand, the flock of Common Redpolls and two Hoary Redpolls were there only on one day this week.
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 no longer an island, the connection to the mainland having been established several months ago.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.