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Presqu’ile Bird Report for 17-23 Jan 2020

There was very little coverage this week so not much to report.  A cold wave and snowstorm on 18 Jan covered the ground and froze much of Presqu’ile Bay, however by weeks’ end it had opened again to the Government Dock.

Waterfowl were largely absent from Presqu’ile Bay for much of the week but some birds returned on 23 Jan as water opened up.  MUTE SWANS appeared in their largest numbers of winter with 45 on 23 Jan, but still far below the expected numbers.  CANADA GEESE are seen regularly as they travel to cornfields for food with a high count of 375 on 19 Jan.  On 23 Jan there were two CANVASBACK with 60 REDHEAD, 310 GREATER SCAUP and one LESSER SCAUP, likely the same bird seen on the waterfowl census on 12 Jan.  COMMON GOLDENEYE numbers also picked up with 160 on 23 Jan.  Small numbers of WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS were seen through the week with a high of six on 19 Jan.

With ice reformed in Presqu’ile Bay, BALD EAGLE sightings picked up with birds seen on most days.  A COOPER’S HAWK on 20 Jan was the only other raptor report.  The DUNLIN that has been frequenting Owen Pt. since 15 Dec was seen again on 18 Jan just as the snowstorm hit.  When the area was next checked on 22 Jan the shoreline where it had been feeding was fully frozen but some exposed shore was still visible on the gravel bar between Gull Is. and Owen Pt. so its possible it may still be somewhere around the islands.  Among the 400 HERRING GULLS standing on the ice of Presqu’ile Bay on 23 Jan were three GLAUCOUS GULLS, one ICELAND GULL and a single GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL.

A GREAT HORNED OWL was seen at dusk near the Park Store on 17 Jan and a few SNOWY OWLS continue to frequent Presqu’ile Bay and the islands.  A MERLIN was at the Calf Pasture on 23 Jan.  The snow cover has brought more birds into feeders. On the day of the storm – 18 Jan - there were 33 AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS at one feeder.  A WHITE-THROATED SPARROW appeared at one feeder that day as well.  The infrequently seen SONG SPARROW was noted again at the Birdhouse Nature Store 22 Jan.  Fifteen NORTHERN CARDINALS were at one Bayshore Rd. feeder on 18 Jan.  Finally one RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD on 19 Jan and a single COMMON GRACKLE on 17 Jan were at the Birdhouse Nature Store feeders, just outside the gate.

Important Note: At the present time the channel between Owen Pt. and Gull Is. is partially frozen and appears very treacherous to attempt crossing (still requires chest waders).  I would strongly advise against attempting any crossings until the water either opens up again, or freezes completely.

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).