No major surprises have enlivened the birding scene at Presqu'ile Provincial Park in the past week, largely because of continuing wintry weather and the accompanying freezing of most of Presqu'ile and Popham Bays.
Even the ducks have been fewer than in recent weeks. The hundreds of REDHEADS that arrived a week ago were present up till Friday had dwindled to a few dozen by Saturday. Only one has been sighted since then. Six WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS were in Presqu'ile Bay on Friday but not one has been reported since then. Two COMMON MERGANSERS off the government dock today were the first in several weeks. Two RUFFED GROUSE were flushed on the Owen Point trail. Surprisingly, no GLAUCOUS GULLS have been sighted this year, but that may change as gulls often gather on the ice in good numbers in late winter.
For the past fortnight, BALD EAGLES have been a daily sighting, with five individuals contesting a prey item on the ice on Monday. Other raptors seen in the past week include NORTHERN HARRIER, SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, COOPER'S HAWK, ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, SNOWY OWL, BARRED OWL, and MERLIN. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS have appeared irregularly. A NORTHERN SHRIKE was seen twice this week. COMMON RAVENS continue to appear. On Saturday a lone HORNED LARK was photographed on Gull Island, perhaps an extra early migrant having been fooled by the thaw of the preceding two days. Flocks of AMERICAN ROBINS have been in the Park all winter and a group of eight was seen yesterday. On cold nights a few EUROPEAN STARLINGS have taken to roosting in one of the Purple Martin houses at 190 Bayshore Road. As many as four WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS are being fed at 83 Bayshore Road. In the same area, a COMMON GRACKLE appeared on January 12 and a BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD on January 17.
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 aware that the ice between Owen Point and the island may or may not support the weight of a human. They may also encounter a slippery coating of ice on the rocks. Ice cleats are recommended. 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.