A few surprises have provided an incentive for birders to continue searching Presqu'ile Provincial Park for unusual birds that may be hiding there, and signs of spring are giving them hope.
Within the past few days, two each of TRUMPETER SWAN and TUNDRA SWAN have been in Presqu'ile Bay. There has been little change in the duck population in the past week, with continuing presence of CANVASBACKS, REDHEADS, and WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS among the more common species. A LESSER SCAUP was reported on February 10. The BARROW'S GOLDENEYE has not re-appeared since it was last seen on February 5; for optimists this is perhaps a sign of spring, since in previous years it has departed a few weeks later. A dead swan on the ice provided a meal for at least two BALD EAGLES for a few days. NORTHERN HARRIER, SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, and ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK were all seen in the Park this week. For the past two days, the wintering AMERICAN COOT has taken up residence on the tiny island at Salt Point (the one with the lighthouse on it). The presence of a few RING-BILLED GULLS on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay in the past few days suggests that thousands will be around Gull Island in the next week or two. A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER continues to frequent the feeders at 83 Bayshore Road. Other woodpeckers have begun drumming. A PEREGRINE FALCON was sitting on the ice near the lighthouse on February 10.
While the BOREAL CHICKADEE opposite 42 Bayshore Road continues to elude many birders, it did put in an appearance again on February 9. BROWN CREEPERS have been exceptionally plentiful at Presqu'ile this winter, with as many as six being found in one's and two's in widely scattered parts of the Park. A WINTER WREN was near the lighthouse on February 12. A HERMIT THRUSH opposite 42 Bayshore Road this afternoon was discovered by a frustrated birder making yet another attempt to find the BOREAL CHICKADEE. It was well over a kilometre away from the one seen last week, suggesting that it might be a different bird. More EUROPEAN STARLINGS than have been present all winter suddenly showed up today, another sign of spring. Late this afternoon, a SAVANNAH SPARROW was feeding on the grass at 188 Bayshore Road (visible from the bay side of 186 Bayshore Road, where it was first discovered and where birders are welcome. Three different WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS were seen on February 11. NORTHERN CARDINALS have begun singing. A few small flocks of PINE GROSBEAKS are still in the Park, as are many COMMON REDPOLLS.
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.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.