February, while marking the onset of spring migration, is typically one of the slowest months of the year for birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, and has begun that way this year.
Waterfowl numbers in Presqu'ile Bay are governed by the day-to-day variation in ice conditions, which have been unfavourable for much of the past week, during which large rafts of ducks assemble on the open waters of Lake Ontario. Nevertheless, there have been a few CANVASBACKS, several dozen REDHEADS, and a single RING-NECKED DUCK in the vicinity of Salt Point, as well as WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS both there and off the lighthouse. The long-staying BARROW'S GOLDENEYE at the lighthouse has not been seen since Tuesday, when it was far offshore. It seems likely that it will re-appear once there is more open water. In several recent winters when inland waters have frozen over, there has been a mysterious appearance of RED-NECKED GREBES on Lake Ontario in February. While the explanation for that occurrence is far from clear, the current ice conditions might suggest that the species is worth watching for at Presqu'ile. A lone AMERICAN COOT on February 1 is nearing the point of successfully over-wintering, which would be a rare and perhaps unprecedented occurrence at Presqu'ile. An immature BALD EAGLE flew past the lighthouse. A NORTHERN HARRIER and a SNOWY OWL are regularly being seen around Gull Island.
BROWN CREEPERS are regularly seen in the Park in winter, but two on one ash tree this week were unusual. There is a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW wintering at 186 Bayshore Road. Two PINE GROSBEAKS were feeding alongside Bayshore Road, between # 16 and # 18. A couple of dozen COMMON REDPOLLS are patronizing 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. Visitors trudging to Gull "Island” need to exercise extreme caution as ice conditions may make for slippery walking: large, tilted blocks of ice are treacherous, especially when buried in snow. 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.
It has just come to light that a HERMIT THRUSH was at 83 Bayshore Road on Tuesday, perhaps the same bird as the one that was seen three times between December 11 and January 4 a few hundred metres to the west.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.