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Birding Report

Since bitterly cold weather has dominated Presqu’ile Provincial Park for much of the past week, most bird sightings have been at feeders or on the one mild day, since birds and birders have been keeping a low profile.

A high count of 434 MUTE SWANS was tallied on Sunday, and one or two TRUMPETER SWANS have accompanied them on at least three of the past six days.  Dabbling ducks generally are absent from Presqu’ile Bay in winter, even when the bay is not frozen, but the first two MALLARDS  were there today, so other species might also ride the warm front that has begun to move in.  A male RING-NECKED DUCK was off Salt Point on Sunday, and up to 14 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS have been there whenever there was open water.  Both adult and immature BALD EAGLES have been present on the ice of Presqu’ile Bay, sometimes two at a time and sometimes feeding on MUTE SWANS or LONG-TAILED DUCKS.  A NORTHERN HARRIER, a COOPER’S HAWK, and two ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS were also seen this week.  Five RING-BILLED GULLS were on the ice of Presqu’ile Bay on Saturday.  Although gulls have been generally scarce this week, it is worth bearing in mind, especially with the recent presence of a "polar vortex”, that two of the four IVORY GULL records from Presqu’ile have been in early January.  SNOWY OWLS have been seen fairly regularly on the beach, on the offshore islands, and on the ice of Presqu’ile Bay.

The female RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER at 83 Bayshore Road and the male at 186 Bayshore Road continue to be seen regularly.  A COMMON RAVEN was heard on Sunday.  There is a mixed flock of AMERICAN ROBINS, EUROPEAN STARLINGS, and CEDAR WAXWINGS frequenting the area of the calf pasture.  A SONG SPARROW has been wintering at 186 Bayshore Road, and at least one COMMON GRACKLE at 83 Bayshore Road.  A female BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD has been seen for the past two days at the corner of Bayshore Road and Langton Avenue.  A PURPLE FINCH was at 83 Bayshore Road on Saturday and at 186 Bayshore Road on Sunday.

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 should exercise extreme caution. The entire approach to the island is covered with glare ice, and footing is dangerous.

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.

Fred Helleiner