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Birding Report

With a few exciting twists, this has been a week of typical mid-winter birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park. That is, one can walk through the woods for an hour without seeing a single bird, but go to where there are feeders or where birds are being hand-fed, and there is always a concentration of passerines. The off-and-on freezing of much of Presqu'ile Bay has meant that water birds can be scarce for a few hours and then plentiful just as quickly.

Again this week, three species of swans have been in Presqu'ile Bay.

Along with hundreds of MUTE SWANS, there were as many as 10-20 TRUMPETER SWANS (an unprecedented number for Presqu'ile) and six TUNDRA SWANS on January 7 and 9, respectively. What appears to be a family group of the latter (two adults and an immature) has been there on three of the last four days. Five GADWALLS were at the day use area on January 11, and a NORTHERN PINTAIL was found at Owen Point on January 9. There have been a few dozen CANVASBACKS in Presqu'ile Bay, but today the number had diminished considerably. REDHEADS, numbering in the thousands last week and in the hundreds by the end of last week, have apparently left the area for now. Past experience suggests that they will return with the southerly winds predicted for Saturday. Ten to fifteen LESSER SCAUP were there on January 7 and one was seen two days later. The male BARROW'S GOLDENEYE off the lighthouse has been the most reliable target bird for visitors to the Park. Allowing for a bit of patience as the bird dives constantly, one can almost be guaranteed to find it.

One or two BALD EAGLES have been present on each of the past five days.

On January 8, a NORTHERN HARRIER made an unsuccessful attempt to dislodge another predator from a LONG-TAILED DUCK that was being consumed on the ice. On the following day, three of that species were seen, each in a different part of the Park. A ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK flew past the lighthouse on January 8, seeming not to notice the remnants of the aforesaid duck, and likely the same bird was seen later crossing the bay. A MERLIN was seen on January 7. The raptor of interest on three of the past six days has been a PEREGRINE FALCON, normally a rare bird at Presqu'ile in winter. This bird was first watched for an hour or two as it tore apart a LONG-TAILED DUCK and aggressively defended its prey against the interloper mentioned above. Since then, it has been seen flying over the ice around the lighthouse and perched on the ice and in a tree.

An AMERICAN COOT accompanied the CANVASBACKS in Presqu'ile Bay on January 9 and 10 and might still be with them. One wonders why there have been no recent reports of ICELAND or GLAUCOUS GULLS. Sporadic sightings of single BARRED OWLS continue.

A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER seems to spend most of its days around the bird sightings board. A NORTHERN SHRIKE was present along Bayshore Road on January 9. A COMMON RAVEN was almost certainly the source of a sound described well by a non-birder. The highlight of the week was a BOREAL CHICKADEE that spent this afternoon in the trees in front of 83 Bayshore Road, accompanied for at least part of the time by a BROWN CREEPER and a GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET. On only one day of the past nine, the CAROLINA WREN at 186 Bayshore Road failed to appear. It was also seen on one day at the comfort station beside the lighthouse parking lot. Some of the birds appearing regularly at 83 Bayshore Road include two WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS, a WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW, up to five RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS, a few COMMON REDPOLLS, and a PINE SISKIN (also visiting the feeders at 186 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. The narrow channel between Owen Point and Gull Island is now ice-covered most of the time, but the ice, while appearing to be thick, might not support the weight of a human.

However, the water beneath the crust, if there is any, is only ankle-deep. The surrounding shoreline can be very slippery. 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.

Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.

Fred Helleiner