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Birding Report

A number of birders from various parts of Ontario have visited Presqu'ile Provincial Park in the past week. As a result, there have been more sightings of interest than usual for this time of year, both on the offshore islands and at mainland feeders.

Over 150 MUTE SWANS were counted recently in Presqu'ile Bay, but many more are expected after other bodies of water in the area freeze over.

A flock of 20 TUNDRA SWANS flew by on December 5, and a few others, as well as a possible TRUMPETER SWAN, have been spotted with them. The last day on which dabbling ducks were in the marsh before it froze over was December 5, when there were still AMERICAN WIGEONS, AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, MALLARDS, and GREEN-WINGED TEALS. The flock of GREATER SCAUP that gathers every year in Presqu'ile Bay has begun to appear, but the significant numbers will likely await the end of the hunting season in another ten days. WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS often frequent the waters around the Salt Point lighthouse and are there again this week. Two or perhaps three COMMON LOONS have also been in Presqu'ile Bay, at least up till December 8. A PIED-BILLED GREBE was there on December 5 and a HORNED GREBE on December 8 and 10. The most recent DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT sighting was of two birds flying past the lighthouse on December 8.

A WILD TURKEY was feeding on berries at 115 Bayshore Road and its tracks could be seen nearby after the first snowfall. On December 8, a group of three RUFFED GROUSE was spotted by the roadside in the Park, with one of them, presumably the male, spreading its tail for the benefit of either the two observers or the two other birds. A flock of about 30 AMERICAN COOTS off 38 Bayshore Road is likely to remain there until freeze-up. By this date, shorebirds become more difficult to find, and on December 6 several birders came up empty in their search. Yet two days later, there were a SANDERLING, three PURPLE SANDPIPERS, and two DUNLINS on the offshore islands, and four PURPLE SANDPIPERS and a DUNLIN were still there today. Two LITTLE GULLS were at the beach on December 5. There still are a few BONAPARTE'S GULLS in Presqu'ile Bay and off Owen Point.

Surprisingly, no one has yet found a GLAUCOUS GULL at Presqu'ile this season.

A SNOWY OWL was observed flying from Gull Island to High Bluff Island on December 8. BARRED OWLS are still being seen in various places in the Park, though some searching or luck is often required. A NORTHERN SHRIKE was on the wire outside 52 Bayshore Road on December 7. A HORNED LARK was on Gull Island on December 6 and 10. A BROWN CREEPER was at the end of Bayshore Road on December 8. Two WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS were at the feeder at 85 Bayshore Road on December 10. SNOW BUNTINGS are usually easy to find on Gull Island. The most recent sighting of the ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK at the group campground parking lot was on December 9. Six RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS were at 85 Bayshore Road on December 10, a COMMON GRACKLE was there on December 5, and a PINE SISKIN on December 6.

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