A taste of spring last Friday (February 18) brought thousands of ducks to Presqu'ile Provincial Park, including two species that arrived earlier than in any previous year. Since then, however, Presqu'ile Bay has frozen over completely, causing even most of the ubiquitous MUTE SWANS to seek refuge somewhere else.
Three TRUMPETER SWANS flew west over the Park office yesterday, apparently resigned to the absence of open water in the bay. One or two TUNDRA SWANS hung on until February 20 but have not been seen since.
The first WOOD DUCK of the season, a male, was at the government dock on February 18, a week earlier than the previous record. Also in that area on the same day were the first ten AMERICAN WIGEONS of the spring and a record early GREEN-WINGED TEAL and a RING-NECKED DUCK, both males.
NORTHERN PINTAILS and GADWALLS may soon be joining them. Several dozen CANVASBACKS, present all week, were last seen yesterday but may still be in the area. REDHEADS numbered an estimated 2,000 and GREATER SCAUP an estimated 6,000 on Friday but have dwindled to double digits in the past few days. As I write, the ice is beginning to move out with a change in the wind, and a return of the /Aythya/ ducks can be expected. The male BARROW'S GOLDENEYE has been off the lighthouse every day, sometimes very far out, depending on the ice conditions closer to shore. A HOODED MERGANSER appeared at the government dock on February 18.
Both adult and immature BALD EAGLES have been present this week. A COOPER'S HAWK was spying on the birds around 84 Bayshore Road on Saturday, and a PEREGRINE FALCON was at the calf pasture on Tuesday. An ICELAND GULL was in Presqu'ile Bay on February 18. Single BARRED OWLS were seen on at least two days this week. A NORTHERN SHRIKE was at the calf pasture this afternoon. A COMMON RAVEN was seen yesterday.
The BOREAL CHICKADEE that has been present for over a month was at 73 Bayshore Road on the weekend. The CAROLINA WREN that has been at 186 Bayshore Road for over four months continues to appear regularly, albeit less frequently since some of the snow has melted. Three WHITE-THROATED and a WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW have been patronizing the feeders at 83 Bayshore Road. A RUSTY BLACKBIRD and a BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD have also been in that area in the past week. There have been COMMON REDPOLLS "all over the place" for the past few days, and one HOARY REDPOLL was spotted among them today.
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. At any time, it is wise to stay off the shore ice. According to the only birders known to have ventured to Gull Island recently, there are now deep drifts to be navigated. 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.