With the exception of one day last weekend, there have been no southerly winds affecting Presqu'ile Provincial Park recently to break the grip of winter on the peninsula and the surrounding waters; but on that day a number of interesting birds were seen, testimony to the fact that one or two serious birders putting in the necessary effort can reinforce the reputation that Presqu'ile has acquired over the years as one of Ontario's best birding locations, even in mid-winter.
There has been little change since a week ago in the number and variety of waterfowl in Presqu'ile Bay. They simply change their location from day to day according to the position of the ice margin, which is largely dependent on the wind direction. However, the appearance of three Northern Pintails on February 19, the earliest date on record according to /Birds of Presqu'ile Provincial Park /(1993), was a sign that dabbling ducks will soon be arriving in numbers. The probable next new arrival from among that group will likely be either an American Wigeon or a Green-winged Teal.
An immature Bald Eagle perched near the lighthouse and a Northern Harrier hunting over Gull Island were the two most interesting raptors seen in the Park in the past week.
A remarkable seven species of gulls, perhaps a one-day record for Presqu'ile, and an additional subspecies were seen at Presqu'ile on February 19. In addition to the three most common species, a Thayer's Gull and two Iceland Gulls (one of which was a member of the Kumlien's race) were seen from Owen Point in the morning, and a Lesser Black-backed Gull and two Glaucous Gulls were seen later in Presqu'ile Bay.
Also on February 19, both a Great Horned Owl and a Great Gray Owl were seen in the Park.
More people continue to find the Tufted Titmouse that has been present since October, both those residents who watch their Bayshore Road feeders and wait for it to arrive and those visitors to Presqu'ile who take their chances on finding it. One of its most regular haunts remains at 186 Bayshore Road. A Golden-crowned Kinglet discovered on Saturday and a flock of Cedar Waxwings seen on two different days in the past week were known to have been present through much of the winter, but the flock of American Robins that wandered around the Park until early February has not been reported for over two weeks. Perhaps they moved into Brighton, where a flock of similar size was recently seen. The White-throated Sparrow being fed at 85 Bayshore Road shows every sign of being able to survive the 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. Although the channel separating Gull Island from Owen Point may appear to be frozen over, the thickness of the ice is probably unreliable because of the underlying currents.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.