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Birding Report

Birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park has, as usual, been productive for the time of year. Of particular interest is the build-up of waterfowl that takes place in January as a first "sign of spring."

A concentration of thousands of CANADA GEESE and hundreds of swans has been present this week at the ice margin in Presqu'ile Bay. In addition to about 400 MUTE SWANS, there are also two TRUMPETER SWANS and up to five TUNDRA SWANS. Two GADWALLS and a NORTHERN PINTAIL were at Owen Point on January 1. A few CANVASBACKS have been trickling in, as they normally do early in January, on each of the past two days. An estimated 500 REDHEADS appear in Presqu'ile Bay whenever the ice permits it, which depends on the wind direction. It is worth scanning the flocks for an early RING-NECKED DUCK. WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS are at Presqu'ile in small numbers. Every day since December 29, a male BARROW'S GOLDENEYE has been near the lighthouse, and will likely stay until early March. Except on the rare days when the water is calm, it takes a good deal of patience to find it between dives.

Several interesting hawks have been seen this week. On Monday, two immature BALD EAGLES were sharing a meal on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay, and one was there two days later. On December 30, four NORTHERN HARRIERS were spotted, three near Owen Point and one at the lighthouse.

Both SHARP-SHINNED and COOPER'S HAWKS have been on the mainland and two ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS on High Bluff Island. A MERLIN was at the calf pasture on January 3 and a PEREGRINE FALCON on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay yesterday and today. Three RUFFED GROUSE again wandered into the back yard at 83 Bayshore Road in search of food dropping from the feeders.

Six SNOWY OWLS were present on December 30, three on the beach, one at Owen Point, one on Gull Island, and one on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay. Three were seen on January 1 and today three could be seen from Owen Point on the offshore islands.

Two very late BONAPARTE'S GULLS seen on Gull Island on January 1.

RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS are seen at various places along Bayshore Road.

A HAIRY WOODPECKER drumming on a pole today made a spring-like sound.

NORTHERN SHRIKES are seen at Owen Point and the calf pasture. The only CAROLINA WREN sighting was at 83 Bayshore Road. The SAVANNAH SPARROW first noticed on December 18 continues to establish new record late dates each time it is seen. This morning it was at 102 Bayshore Road and this afternoon at 83 Bayshore Road, where two WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS and a RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD were seen on December 29. The only PINE SISKIN of the past week was in a flock of AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES 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. Visitors to Gull Island not using a boat should be prepared to wade through knee-deep water in which there is often a swift current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven and slippery. Moreover, there is a great deal of ice on the surrounding shore. 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