Highlights: RING-NECKED DUCK, CANVASBACK, DUNLIN, ICELAND GULL, GLAUCOUS GULL, CHIPPING SPARROW, PINE GROSBEAK, RED CROSSBILL
Once again coverage was light this week with the exception of Sunday Dec 16 when the Presqu’ile CBC was held, generating lots of sightings and proving that there are birds to find when people look.
About 300 MUTE SWANS were in Presqu’ile Bay on 16 Dec, which is below the recent average but likely just a product of more open water available outside the Park. A few MALLARD and AMERICAN BLACK DUCK have been seen but otherwise puddle ducks are absent. Fifty REDHEAD were seen on 16 Dec, followed by 125 on 18 Dec. More unusual were two CANVASBACK on 17 Dec, followed by one the next day. Also unusual was a RING-NECKED DUCK on 17 Dec. Eleven WHITE-WINGED SCOTER were found on 16 Dec. LONG-TAILED DUCK, in its spectacular winter plumage, was the most common duck with 1300 found on 16 Dec. A new record high of 32 WILD TURKEY was recorded on 16 Dec. A late HORNED GREBE was off Gull Is. on 16 Dec.
Raptors were well represented this week. A NORTHERN HARRIER was seen on Dec 16. A SHARP-SHINNED HAWK was noted on 18 Dec and single COOPER’S HAWKS were seen on 16 and 18 Dec. Seven BALD EAGLES were seen during the CBC on 16 Dec, at least four of which were in Presqu’ile Bay. A single RED-TAILED HAWK was reported throughout the week.
The long-staying DUNLIN was on Gull Is. on 16 and 18 Dec. An ICELAND GULL was seen on Gull Is. on 16 Dec and a GLAUCOUS GULL was seen the same day in Presqu’ile Bay. An adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was also seen near the dump north of the park on 16 Dec., but could easily end up in Presqu’ile Bay so keep your eyes peeled. After being absent for several weeks at least four SNOWY OWLS were located on 16 Dec. BARRED OWLS were seen several times during the week.
A BELTED KINGFISHER was noted on 16 Dec. Northern Shrikes were seen on 15 Dec, 16 Dec, 17 Dec and 20 Dec. Likely the same RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET found last week was relocated on 16 Dec in the Fingers. Better coverage of conifer plantations produced 27 GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET on 16 Dec as well as 11 BROWN CREEPER, giving a better indication of how common these birds actually are in winter. 120 AMERICAN ROBIN were seen on 16 Dec, but only one CEDAR WAXWING. The lingering BROWN THRASHER took several days off over the bird count but returned on 19 Dec to be recorded for count week.
SNOW BUNTINGS remain scarce with a flock of 20 over the Bay and 11 on Gull Is. on 16 Dec. A rare winter CHIPPING SPARROW was seen along Paxton Dr. on 16 Dec. Up to two WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS visited feeders on Bayshore Rd through the week and a SONG SPARROW was seen on 18 Dec. A COMMON GRACKLE was seen at one Bayshore Rd feeder on 14 Dec. It or another appeared at a different feeder from 17 Dec. onward.
A PINE SISKIN on 19 Dec was the only report. A flock of 18 COMMON REDPOLL was located on Dec 16. Increased coverage on count day resulted in 16 PINE GROSBEAK being located on 16 Dec. More unusual were two RED CROSSBILLS heard calling over the Fingers on 16 Dec.
Directions: Presqu’ile Provincial Park is located on the north shore of Lake Ontario, just south of the town of Brighton. It can be reached from either Hwy. 401, or Cty. Rd. 2 and is well signed. A Park map can be found in the information tabloid available at the Park gate. Presqu’ile’s two offshore islands – Gull and High Bluff – support a large multi-species colonial bird nesting area and access is not permitted during the breeding season (10 March-10 September