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Birding Report

The focus this week at Presqu'ile Provincial Park has been on owls, since few other birds of interest have been observed.  The late November and early December dates are not  particularly auspicious for finding rarities, but on the other hand it is worth noting that on December 1 and 2 eleven years ago a BLACK VULTURE was at the Park and two years ago a SMEW was there on December 2 and 3.

A second printing of a book entitled 
For the Birds: Recollections and Rambles
by Fred Helleiner, is now available from the author (see below) for $20 plus $2.50 for postage. It is also being sold at Out on a Limb in Brighton. All profits are being donated to the Friends of Presqu'ile's 25th Anniversary Environmental Fund, which sponsors long-term projects like the eradication of invasive species.

A count of 193 MUTE SWANS in Presqu'ile Bay this afternoon was the highest this fall and presages even higher numbers after other bodies of water freeze over and the birds congregate at Presqu'ile. Before the marsh froze over, a male WOOD DUCK was there on November 23. Three GADWALLS were near the lighthouse two days later, shortly after the marsh froze over. The REDHEADS and WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS mentioned in last week's report have not yet
departed. Yesterday a COMMON LOON swam towards the lighthouse, and at least one DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT was still present. This afternoon two prescient GREAT BLUE HERONS were winging their way straight south overhead. Small numbers of BONAPARTE'S GULLS were seen as recently as yesterday.

SNOWY OWLS have been the highlight of the week. The first one was seen on Friday. By Saturday there were two on Gull Island, one of which was seen to attack a hunter's decoy, obviously a realistic one! On Sunday three observers saw and photographed both a SNOWY and a BARRED OWL. The former was in a tree near the Park store before flying towards Owen Point. On Tuesday, two SNOWY OWLS were on the eastern end of Gull Island and a third, very white one was on High Bluff Island, all of them conspicuous against what was then bare ground. Two of them were seen yesterday, and all three are likely there to stay for the winter.

RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS continue to be seen at feeders on Bayshore Road. A SONG SPARROW has taken up residence at 186 Bayshore Road, and a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW at 83 and 85 Bayshore Road. At the latter address a WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW was again seen recently.

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 water that is barely shin-deep, 
not taking into account any wave action,.in which there is often a swift current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven and slippery. It should also be noted that, because  of safety reasons with duck hunting is on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Gull Island, High Bluff Island, Owen Point, and part of the calf pasture are not available for bird-watching on those 
days. 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:  


Fred Helleiner