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Birding Report

 This has been a surprisingly productive week for birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, with several uncommon birds and one
genuine rarity being seen. All of this is further evidence that more eyes, especially expert eyes, invariably lead to more sightings, since many people came birding to the Park this week, including over twenty keen individuals on Sunday. One has to wonder how many potentially exciting birds are missed on all those other days, when birders on the ground are scarce. 


Two days ago, one observer counted 254 MUTE SWANS from a single vantage point and estimated that he saw at least another
100 elsewhere in the Park. About a dozen TUNDRA SWANS were also present for a few days. GADWALLS have been hanging around the east end of High Bluff Island, and a single NORTHERN SHOVELER was at the east end of Gull Island on Tuesday. A BLACK SCOTER was next to Sebastopol Island on Sunday. HOODED MERGANSERS have been seen on five of the past seven days, with a high count of eight birds on Tuesday. On Sunday, three loons were in Popham Bay, at least one of which was near enough to be identified as a COMMON LOON, as well as a RED-NECKED and a HORNED GREBE. One of the latter was also in Presqu'ile Bay on that day.

There were two separate sightings of a late TURKEY VULTURE on November 30, a record late date for that species at Presqu'ile. On December 3, A COOPER'S HAWK was at the calf pasture and a NORTHERN GOSHAWK was spooking the ducks at High Bluff Island. Two ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS were seen on December 1.  An AMERICAN COOT was in Presqu'ile Bay today. A few BONAPARTE'S GULLS have been seen every day this week. The highlight of the week was the discovery this morning of a LAUGHING GULL. It was first seen from Owen Point sitting on a gravel bar close to Gull Island. Later it gave some close-up views as it sat on Owen Point
before flying to join other gulls on a shoal to the east of Sebastopol Island. Although Owen Point was the best vantage point today, that location will not be accessible for the next two days. However, the bird could likely have been seen from lookout 3 on the Owen Point trail, which is the limit of accessibility on hunting days. On Sunday, both ICELAND and LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS were in that area. 

SNOWY OWLS have been easy to find. On December 3, one observer could see four at one time from Owen Point, as well as a fifth one at the other end of Gull Island and a sixth one on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay, where one was seen on Sunday and two on Monday. Another was on a television antenna on Bayshore Road. Again this week, a BARRED OWL was found, this one near the nature entre. A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER makes frequent brief visits to the feeders at 186 Bayshore Road. Although PILEATED WOODPECKERS are not uncommon at Presqu'ile, the one that was seen in the day use area on Monday was the first in several weeks. A NORTHERN SHRIKE was at the calf pasture today. A HORNED LARK on Gull Island and a WINTER WREN beside the marsh boardwalk tower were of interest. Another record late date was established today when a GRAY CATBIRD was found at 83
Bayshore Road. An AMERICAN PIPIT was on Gull Island on Sunday and Tuesday. Small numbers of SNOW BUNTINGS have been seen here and there. Two SONG SPARROWS were present on Sunday, one of which continues to visit the feeders at 186 Bayshore Road. A WHITE-THROATED and a WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW were seen at 83 Bayshore Road on December 2, and a RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD and two BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS have visited the feeders at 102 Bayshore Road. 
 

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 water that is barely shin-deep, not taking into account any wave action,.in which there is often a swift current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven and slippery. It should also be noted that, for safety reasons on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Gull Island, High Bluff Island, Owen Point, and part of the calf pasture are not available for bird-watching. 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.
 

Fred Helleiner