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Birding Report

At least for part of the past week, conditions at Presqu'ile Provincial Park have been March-like, in terms of both weather and bird life. The open water of Presqu'ile Bay extends as far as the calf pasture, which is unusual this early in the season.

When most of the swans have their heads tucked under their wings, as is often the case in cold or windy weather, it is difficult to determine which species are present among the 300 or so, but six TRUMPETER SWANS were detected on one day. CANVASBACKS and REDHEADS are both fairly easy to spot from the government dock. For the past three and a half weeks, WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS have been seen every day. A surprising sighting of a male BLACK SCOTER near the lighthouse on January 25 was one of only a few winter records in the Park. After an apparent absence of five days, the male BARROW'S GOLDENEYE in that same area re-appeared on January 26 and has been present constantly since then, seeming to favour surfing the big waves at the entrance to Presqu'ile Bay.

A NORTHERN GOSHAWK paid a brief visit to the feeders at 186 Bayshore Road on January 22. RING-NECKED PHEASANT, RUFFED GROUSE, and WILD TURKEY have all been seen this week, the first near the Park entrance (not seen here alive for a long time) and the last at the Paxton Drive /Atkins Lane junction. Gulls have put on a good showing this week, including ICELAND and LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS. Owls, too, have been noteworthy. A pale GREAT HORNED OWL was seen on January 24, a SNOWY OWL has been on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay, and BARRED OWLS continue to be ubiquitous.

There has been little change among passerines this week. A WHITE-THROATED SPARROW was at 85 Bayshore Road today. I am not aware of any sightings since January 21 of the ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK that has been present all winter. The RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD frequenting the Bayshore Road/Langton Avenue area was seen at least twice in the past week.

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. The narrow channel between Owen Point and Gull Island is normally ice-covered at this time of year, but the ice, while appearing to be thick, might not support the weight of a human. However, the water beneath the crust is only ankle-deep. The surrounding shoreline can be very slippery. 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.

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Fred Helleiner