Presqu'ile Provincial Park can be a great spot for winter birding, but much depends on the ice conditions in Presqu'ile Bay, which, in turn, depend on the wind direction. For most of the past week, there has been open water as far inland as the calf pasture, making for easy viewing of many waterfowl. The presence of bird feeders along Bayshore Road and in the Park attracts birds that are less likely to be found swimming in the bay.
On both Monday and Wednesday of this week, three species of swans could be seen and often heard. Yes, even MUTE SWANS make a noise, though the whistle of the TUNDRA SWANS (of which 11 were counted yesterday) and the honking of TRUMPETER SWANS, are loud enough to carry from one side of the bay to the other. Most of the dabbling ducks have vacated the bay, but a few GADWALLS remain, mostly in the open lake, and a NORTHERN PINTAIL was seen at Gull Island on January 2. By far the most numerous of the ducks this week have been REDHEADS, several thousand in number, and GREATER SCAUP have also been plentiful. Among those, there have been up to 100 CANVASBACKS, mostly off the government dock, and at least two RING-NECKED DUCKS and three LESSER SCAUP. Two WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS have been present on three different days. The long-staying male BARROW'S GOLDENEYE off 186 Bayshore Road displays an affinity for a fairly restricted patch of water, in which it can be found almost any time. Attempts to re-locate the HARLEQUIN DUCKS that were off Gull Island in December have been unsuccessful, but it would not seem unlikely that they are still in the area. A GREAT BLUE HERON stopped briefly at Salt Point on December 30.
BALD EAGLES are definitely in the area. Two adults and two immatures were seen together on December 27, though since then only singles have been seen. A dead NORTHERN GOSHAWK was turned in to the Park office on January 2, presumably having been found in the Park on that day.
RED-TAILED HAWK, ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, and PEREGRINE FALCON were also in the Park on that date. To my knowledge, there has been only one BARRED OWL sighting this week. A NORTHERN SHRIKE was at the calf pasture on December 31.
When the snow cover disappeared for a period of five days, so did the CAROLINA WREN that has been frequenting the feeders at 186 Bayshore Road. As soon as the snow returned, however, the bird was back and has paid visits both yesterday and today. The large flocks of AMERICAN ROBINS that were at Presqu'ile through much of December have thinned out, with only smaller flocks remaining. Mixed waxwing flocks were seen on December 31 (mostly BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS, about 90) and on January 2 (only one BOHEMIAN among a dozen CEDAR WAXWINGS). Three SONG SPARROWS were on Gull Island yesterday, and at least one was there today. SNOW BUNTINGS were there on January 3. At least two WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS and four RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS are visiting the feeders at 83 Bayshore Road. COMMON REDPOLLS are in the park in small numbers.
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 now ice-covered most of the time, but the ice, while appearing to be thick, might not support the weight of a human. However, the water beneath the crust, if there is any, 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.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.