The recent relenting of winter has left the waters of Presqu'ile Bay completely open. As a result, the Bay has provided the most interesting birding in the Presqu'ile area.
High winds concentrated at least 500 apparently resident Canada Geese on beach four on December 30. Two Tundra Swans were seen off the Government Dock on Jan 1 - Mute Swans were everywhere throughout Presqu'ile Bay. Large numbers of American Black Ducks continued to persist at Presqu'ile particularly about Gull and High Bluff Islands. Smaller numbers of Mallards usually accompanied the Blacks. Careful scanning could usually produce up to 20 Canvasbacks among hundreds of Redheads massing between the Government Docks and Salt Point. In the same area, several Lesser Scaup and one or two Ring-necked Ducks could usually be found in the vicinity of large numbers of Greater Scaup. A couple of White-winged Scoters were dependable by the Salt Point Lighthouse and a few more were off the north end of Gull Island.
Numbers of Long-tailed Ducks continued to rise making this species the most numerous duck at Presqu'ile. Rafts numbering in the thousands could be seen off Gull Island throughout the week and smaller but significant numbers could be seen in the Government Dock-Salt Point region. For some reason, Long-tailed Ducks in the latter area became very vocal on January 1. Next in abundance and found just about everywhere in Park waters were Buffleheads and Common Goldeneyes. Numbers of mergansers seem to have diminished although small flocks of male Common Mergansers flew about Gull Island on December 28.
Raptors were not prominent on the Peninsula during the week; however, on December 28 a Northern Goshawk attempted (in vain) to take a squirrel in a yard in central Brighton.
A single American Coot is dependable about the Government Dock.
Perhaps in an attempt to humble nay-saying prognosticators, a Purple Sandpiper made a cameo appearance on December 28 on the gravel bar just off Owen Point. Despite considerable searching, the bird has not been seen again.
Unusual for Presqu'ile in late December were seven or eight Bonaparte's Gulls roosting on beach three during December 30's high winds. On the same day, another dozen or so were flying to the south in Lake Ontario amidst significant waves.
Just to the west of Presqu'ile on Lakeshore Road, a Red-bellied Woodpecker has been frequenting a feeder. American Tree Sparrows can be found here and there among brush and weeds at Presqu'ile. However, like other small birds the lack of snow has not tied the sparrows to feeders. Snow Bunting numbers seem to have declined and only one or two could be counted on about the beach or on Gull Island.
About 50 Brown-headed Cowbirds converged on the above-mentioned Lakeshore Road feeder on December 30. Back in the Park, two to three Common Grackles have been regular about feeders at 83 Bayshore Road. The same feeders have produced small numbers of Pine Siskins, American Goldfinches and Common Redpolls throughout the week. A flock of 25-30 redpolls persisted over the week on the rather harsh Gull Island landscape.
To reach Presqu'ile Provincial Park, follow the signs from Brighton. Park locations are shown on a map at the back of a tabloid available at the Park gate. The waters to Gull Island have become deeper of late and hip boots are not sufficient to keep one dry (and safe) during a crossing. Waves, strong currents and an unstable substrate can usually be depended on.
A Happy New Year and Good Birding to Everyone.