Again during the past week at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, there have been eastern, western, northern, and southern birds in addition to those that are more normal for this location.
A single Red-throated Loon was swimming off High Bluff Island on November 16, and several were seen in Popham Bay on the following day. A Red-necked Grebe was also in Popham Bay off beach 1 on November 17 and 18.
Five Tundra Swans flew over Owen Point on November 14, and four were swimming in Presqu'ile Bay just outside the Park on the next day. King Eiders are normally found on the east coast, but one was seen off beach 1 on November 17. The flock of Black Scoters in Popham Bay had grown to about 20 by November 12, but none has been reported since November 16. Three Hooded Mergansers that were in the marsh on November 15 have also not been seen since.
There have been no reports of the Merlin that was frequenting Gull Island during the past week. In fact, the only hawk reported in the Park during the week was a Sharp-shinned Hawk.
Four Sandhill Cranes, not often seen this far east, flew over the Owen Point trail parking lot at dusk on November 13 and were followed by car until they were out of sight near the Park gate. The only shorebirds left at Presqu'ile are two Black-bellied Plovers and an American Golden-Plover
that have been present since at least November 14 and were still present on November 18. The latter represents one of the latest dates for that species at Presqu'ile. These birds have been seen both at Owen Point and on Gull Island.
With patience and good optics, one can usually find at least one Little Gull these days, commonly consorting with Bonaparte's Gulls. As many as three were seen on November 17. Unquestionably, the bird of the week was a Black-legged Kittiwake (another east coast bird) that was with the Bonaparte's Gulls off beach 1 on November 17 and 18 and will perhaps stay around as long as the swarm of Bonaparte's Gulls remains. Few gull sightings could eclipse that one for excitement, but birders should nevertheless be on the lookout for even rarer gulls. There is a remote possibility that a Sabine's Gull or even a Ross's Gull might also turn up.
Many park visitors this week have been pleased to have the opportunity to see a Snowy Owl, an infrequent visitor from the north. As many as three of these birds have been in view at the same time, either on the beach or on one of the offshore islands. One of the resident Barred Owls put in an appearance on the roadside near Jobes' Woods earlier in the week.
On November 17, a Common Raven could be heard giving two of its distinctive calls near the lighthouse, but it remained out of sight. At the same time as that more northern bird was calling in the background, a more southern bird, a Tufted Titmouse, was visiting the feeder at 191 Bayshore Road. It has been making much more frequent visits to that feeder and the ones at 186 Bayshore Road in recent days and appears to have settled in for a long stay.
A White-throated Sparrow spent two days (November 13 and 14) at 186 Bayshore Road, and a Common Grackle has been there since November 16. Two observers found a Common Redpoll at Owen Point on November 16, the first of that species to appear this winter.
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 be prepared to wade through shin-deep water in which there is often a swift current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven. It should also be noted that, because duck hunting is given priority 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.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.