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Birding Report

As often happens early in December, birders have been descending on Presqu'ile Provincial Park with a view to padding their list of birds seen in what they believe to be winter, even though there still is no evidence that winter has begun in the Park. There are indeed a few birds not often seen here in December, but only time will tell whether they will still remain if winter finally does arrive.

Seven TUNDRA SWANS flew over148 Bayshore Road on November 30. GADWALLS and AMERICAN WIGEONS were off the shore of High Bluff Island on December 3, and the latter have been regular in the marsh. Two drake NORTHERN PINTAILS were still in the marsh on December 1 and two GREEN-WINGED TEAL on December 3. Four REDHEADS were in Popham Bay on November 29.

WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS are scattered around the shores. Two male and one female HOODED MERGANSER stopped in the marsh for one day on November 28. This report predicted last week that loons, grebes, and cormorants would be gone by that date, but all of them have lingered on. A COMMON LOON was in Presqu'ile Bay on three different days since then, most recently on December 2. A PIED-BILLED GREBE was in the marsh on November 30 and on November 29 two HORNED GREBES were off the lighthouse and another two off Gull Island. A DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT has been a regular between the calf pasture and the government dock, most recently on December 2. All four of those species are unlikely to be here when winter sets in.

A NORTHERN HARRIER was at Gull Island on December 1. All three of the North American accipiter species have been in the Park in the past week, a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK and a NORTHERN GOSHAWK on November 27 and a COOPER'S HAWK on December 1. Although most of the raptor migration is over, in previous years ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS have passed over Presqu'ile well into December when cold fronts have moved through.

Two WILD TURKEYS were spotted near 123 Bayshore Road on November 28. As long as the marsh remains unfrozen, which is unusual for this date, a flock of some thirty AMERICAN COOTS will likely continue to hide among the reeds off 38 Bayshore Road, but thereafter they will likely be easier to see in the nearby open water (until that, too, freezes over).

The latest sighting of the KILLDEER that spent much of November on Gull Island was on the 27th. The only two remaining shorebird species were present on all three of the non-hunting days in the past week: single PURPLE SANDPIPERS on Sunday and Tuesday and three together on the south-east corner of Gull Island today; two DUNLINS on Sunday and one with a broken or missing leg still there today. On Sunday and today, an adult LITTLE GULL was with the large flock of BONAPARTE'S GULLS around Gull Island, a flock that one observer estimated after a partial count at close to five hundred birds on Sunday. When can we expect a BLACK-HEADED GULL to show up with them?

BARRED OWLS continue to be seen here and there. A BELTED KINGFISHER has been frequenting the cove at the calf pasture, where that species often lingers until freeze-up. A COMMON RAVEN flew over 87 Bayshore Road on November 27. An AMERICAN PIPIT was on Gull Island on November 29. It is now three weeks since a ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK was discovered at the bird feeder beside the group campground parking lot. It is sometimes difficult to see among the surrounding cedars, but it was still present yesterday and today. If it stays for two more weeks, it will be a welcome "count period" bird for the Presqu'ile Christmas Bird Count on December 20. RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS and a COMMON GRACKLE show signs of planning to patronize the feeders at 85 Bayshore Road all 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. Visitors to Gull Island not using a boat should be prepared to wade through ankle-deep water that sometimes has waves that reach the shins. With hip waders one can walk to Sebastopol Island from Gull Island, but wading to High Bluff Island is not possible.
It should also be noted that, because duck hunting is given priority on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Gull Island, High Bluff Island, Owen Point, and part of the calf pasture are not available for bird-watching on those days until December 20. Birders are encouraged to record their observations on the bird sightings board provided near the campground office by The Friends of Presqu'ile Park and to fill out a rare bird report for species not listed there.

Fred Helleiner