A respectable 61 species of birds were seen in the past week at Presqu'ile Provincial Park. Of those, 58 were seen on Sunday, when the Christmas Bird Count took place. No additional species were added since then, with birders apparently taking a pre-Christmas hiatus. Next week's report will be posted on Wednesday, covering only a six-day period.
Two TRUMPETER SWANS and 20 TUNDRA SWANS were in Presqu'ile Bay, which remains largely ice-free. Among the hundreds of ducks, some of the less common ones seen on Sunday were REDHEAD, LESSER SCAUP, WHITE-WINGED SCOTER, and HOODED MERGANSER. For the second consecutive week, a group of five WILD TURKEYS was seen. A freshly dead COMMON LOON was late. The first December record of a TURKEY VULTURE for Presqu'ile (though not for vultures, since a BLACK VULTURE was in the Park in December twelve years ago) was established last week when one flew over. A BALD EAGLE and two NORTHERN HARRIERS were seen on December 12. There were two sightings of ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK on the offshore islands. The PURPLE SANDPIPER that has been on the north shore of Gull Island for over a week was still there this afternoon. A GLAUCOUS GULL has been in Presqu'ile Bay for some time and was most recently seen on December 14. A GREAT HORNED OWL was in "the fingers" on Sunday. Of the five SNOWY OWLS seen on the Christmas Bird Count, three were still present this afternoon, one on the beach and one each on Gull and High Bluff Islands. BARRED OWLS have been seen on at least three of the past seven days.
A NORTHERN SHRIKE has been in the vicinity of the calf pasture, most recently on December 17. A COMMON RAVEN was seen and heard. Four WINTER WRENS were an unusual number for this time of year, as were two RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS, a HERMIT THRUSH, two SWAMP SPARROWS, two WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS, and a WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW. A RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD and a dozen COMMON GRACKLES have been sampling several feeders on Bayshore Road, as have a few COMMON REDPOLLS and PINE SISKINS.
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 knee-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 duck hunting is on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Gull Island, High Bluff Island, 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: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA