To refer to birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park in the past week as a total washout would be an exaggeration, as there were a few good finds, if not mega-rarities. "Slim pickings" might be more appropriate. Birders appear to have been few in number and infrequent in their indulgence in the pastime.
On Sunday, two SNOW GEESE accompanied the CANADA GEESE on the beach, and one was still there on Monday. TUNDRA SWANS have been around in small groups, in both Popham Bay and Presqu'ile Bay, where they have been consorting with the MUTE SWANS that are visible from the camp office viewing deck. That vantage point has also regularly produced WOOD DUCKS, NORTHERN SHOVELERS, and NORTHERN PINTAILS this week, as well as periodic appearances of RING-NECKED DUCK and LESSER SCAUP. KING EIDERS, formerly regular at Presqu'ile in November, still appear occasionally and should be watched for. WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS are being seen almost daily, and SURF and BLACK SCOTERS were in Popham Bay on Sunday. Single DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS have been seen on three of the past seven days, most recently today. A BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER and small numbers of DUNLINS were the only shorebirds this week, though a GREATER YELLOWLEGS was seen just outside the Park. Several observers saw and photographed a SNOWY OWL on Gull Island on Sunday, and there was also a sighting of a BARRED OWL. Both RED-BELLIED and PILEATED WOODPECKERS are year-round residents at Presqu'ile, and both were seen this week. An AMERICAN PIPIT was heard as it flew over Gull Island. Most migrant sparrows appear to have done just that but a late WHITE-THROATED SPARROW showed up today. A male PURPLE FINCH dropped in at a feeder today, but the two HOUSE SPARROWS that were there for almost a month have disappeared.
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 knee-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, because duck hunting is on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Gull Island, High Bluff Island, and part of the calf pasture are not available for bird-watching on those days. 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