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Birding Report

Two annual events of possible interest to birders are taking place at Presqu'ile Provincial Park in the next few weeks. The first is a winter soup hike this Saturday afternoon.  The second is the waterfowl viewing weekend on March 17-18. With most of Presqu'ile Bay already free of ice, birders seriously interested in finding masses of ducks, albeit of limited variety, might find it worthwhile to visit sooner than those dates. It will take some serious freeze-up to concentrate the ducks closer to shore than they are now.

A TRUMPETER SWAN was at the calf pasture earlier this week, offering ideal viewing opportunities. This morning the first GADWALL in two weeks was mingling with the thousands of GREATER SCAUP in Presqu'ile Bay, but other dabbling ducks have been scarce. With most of the ducks far out in the bay, it has been a challenge to spot the RING-NECKED DUCK that is present. Optimistic birders at this time of year carefully scan the flocks for a possible TUFTED DUCK, which has appeared twice before at Presqu'ile, though not in the past fifteen years. The BARROW'S GOLDENEYE at the lighthouse continues to appear every day, but on a more erratic schedule. In previous years, it has departed in March, but with phenological conditions occurring earlier this year it may leave sooner.

An immature BALD EAGLE was seen twice this week. Two NORTHERN HARRIERS were seen on Sunday. Two different COOPER'S HAWKS are being seen from time to time. A PEREGRINE FALCON killed and ate a duck on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay on Tuesday and was there again today. Two WILD TURKEYS were at the calf pasture this morning, raising the question of whether they have been present but undetected for several months or whether they have returned after spending a few months elsewhere. Only one SNOWY OWL is known to have been seen this week, far out on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay. Probably the ones on the beach and the offshore islands are still present.

The same wintering birds that have been seen regularly remain: RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER, CAROLINA WREN, and SAVANNAH SPARROW at 83 Bayshore Road, and NORTHERN SHRIKE at the calf pasture. A COMMON RAVEN was seen last Friday and another or the same one was at the calf pasture this morning. A BROWN CREEPER was seen last weekend and the first CEDAR WAXWING since early December was seen today. A WHITE-THROATED SPARROW was at 83 Bayshore Road on February 10 and 11. Ten PINE SISKINS were seen on February 13. HOUSE SPARROWS are never common at Presqu'ile but a female appeared at a feeder on February 12.

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. Visitors to Gull Island not using a boat should be prepared to wade through ice-choked water of unknown depth, in which there is often a swift current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven and slippery. Moreover, there is a great deal of ice on the surrounding shore. 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.

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Fred Helleiner