Even in mid-winter, some interesting birds can be found at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, and this week has been no exception.
Since the beginning of the year, only one individual dabbling duck has been reported, but now that February has arrived the first migrants may be expected if there is another warm front, perhaps a MALLARD or a GADWALL, either of which is usually among the first to return. On January 29, a male CANVASBACK was off the government dock. A day earlier there had been about 400 REDHEADS there, but those numbers have been dwindling ever since, as Presqu'ile Bay has largely frozen over. WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS are still being seen there in small numbers. Both RUFFED GROUSE and WILD TURKEY have been seen in the past week. An ICELAND GULL was among the HERRING GULLS off the government dock this morning. A few BALD EAGLES can be seen on most days either on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay or in the surrounding trees, including two adults this morning and an immature this afternoon. A SHARP-SHINNED HAWK and a COOPER'S HAWK have also been seen. SNOWY OWLS have been regular on the offshore islands, though photographers have been spooking them away from Gull Island to the other two. As well, one has been on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay. NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS may well be scattered throughout the wooded areas of the Park but are extremely difficult to find as they hide in the thickest foliage of cedar trees. Such was the case with the one on Saturday that sat inconspicuously for a good many observers to try to spot it. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS, PILEATED WOODPECKERS, and COMMON RAVENS are again being seen here and there. Two NORTHERN SHRIKES were present this afternoon, one at the beach 1 access road and one at the calf pasture. There continue to be WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS at 83 Bayshore Road.
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.