At Presqu'ile Provincial Park, birding has been fairly static for the past week, which translates into lots of interesting birds being seen, but mostly the same ones over and over again.
One of the most easily found is a goose that has most of the markings of a GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE but also has features that suggest some other genetic background, perhaps a barnyard goose. Birders seeing it are making up their own minds about its provenance. Some TUNDRA SWANS are regularly in Presqu'ile Bay, and more may return after other areas nearby become frozen. Normally, dabbling ducks are absent from Presqu'ile Bay in January, but this week there have been numerous GADWALLS, AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, MALLARDS, and, on January 12, a female GREEN-WINGED TEAL. The vast majority of the ducks are REDHEADS, GREATER SCAUP, and LONG-TAILED DUCKS. To make things interesting, a careful scan of the rafts of those ducks is likely to reveal a few CANVASBACKS, RING-NECKED DUCKS, LESSER SCAUP (which are much more tricky to pick out), WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS, and AMERICAN COOTS. On three days between January 11 and 14, a female HOODED MERGANSER was also among them. Most people are having little trouble finding the male BARROW'S GOLDENEYE at the lighthouse, but knowing where to look can be helpful when conditions are less than ideal: mostly around a red marker buoy to the left as one stands at the lighthouse. Failing that, birders are encouraged to make their way to 186 Bayshore Road and scan from the lake side of that property. Any claim that the bird is not there is likely false and bespeaks a lack of sufficient patience to await the brief moments when it surfaces after a dive. Along the main entrance road to the Park, a RUFFED GROUSE was seen on January 15. The COMMON LOON in Presqu'ile Bay was still present on January 12. One wonders whether a HORNED GREBE might also be lingering somewhere in the area. A few BALD EAGLES have been seen on the ice of that bay and elsewhere, as has a PEREGRINE FALCON on at least two days in the past week. Gull Island continues to be the place to find NORTHERN HARRIERS and ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS (actually on High Bluff Island but seen from Gull Island). A SHARP-SHINNED HAWK has made passes at a local feeder. Most of the gulls loitering on the ice have been too far out to identify, but two ICELAND GULLS and a GLAUCOUS GULL have been spotted on several occasions.
At least two different SNOWY OWLS are present, one on the offshore islands, conspicuous against the bare ground, and one on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay. A BARRED OWL has been seen and photographed twice on Paxton Drive. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS are now in three areas of the Park, the most recent being at the Park office today. A COMMON RAVEN was being chased by AMERICAN CROWS at Salt Point. The real surprise of the week was (is?) a BOREAL CHICKADEE, first spotted on January 11 where Lilac Lane meets Bayshore Road, and subsequently relocated on three occasions in the same area, mixed in with a flock of BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES, GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS, and BROWN CREEPERS. It has proved elusive for some who have searched the area repeatedly. Almost as surprising for their behaviour rather than their rarity have been WINTER WRENS singing as if it were spring in the "fingers” since at least January 10. On two occasions, a flock of BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS has appeared along Bayshore Road. A SONG SPARROW found on January 11 was the first at Presqu'ile in several weeks. There have been a few PINE GROSBEAK sightings in the past week, including one today west of Atkins Lane. A RED CROSSBILL was heard overhead on January 11. COMMON REDPOLLS are the most abundant finch in the Park these days.
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” can walk across the gap without special footwear. Ice conditions may make for slippery walking. 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.