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Birding Report Feb. 18 2016

A decidedly wintry week at Presqu'ile Provincial Park has delayed the start of the spring bird migration, which often shows signs of life by mid-February.  As well, only a few hardy birders ventured out.  To paraphrase a well-known philosophical question: if birds arrive at Presqu'ile and no one is there to see them, do they really emit light waves?  Or perhaps: if birds arrive at Presqu'ile and no one is there to see them, will Canadians still say they are sorry?  I'm sorry to have taken up too much space here.

Even on the coldest days and when Presqu'ile Bay is solidly frozen, one can always count on MUTE SWANS being around, but the six TUNDRA SWANS photographed at Owen Point on February 15 were the first since mid-January and may have been newly arrived migrants.  The REDHEADS and GREATER SCAUP that congregated by the thousands in Presqu'ile Bay for the first ten days of the month have dwindled to fewer than a dozen of the former and only hundreds of the latter.  CANVASBACKS disappeared altogether until today, when a few were at Salt Point, where WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS can also be seen on most days.  Yesterday at least seven RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS were there, the most this year.

The five WILD TURKEYS that have been spotted at the calf pasture occasionally all winter were seen again on Sunday.  If some of the inland waterways freeze up, a few RED-NECKED GREBES might be forced to move to Presqu'ile, as they have done in previous years when February conditions have necessitated that.  After disappearing for over a week, BALD EAGLES have returned with a vengeance.  At least four adults and two immatures have been present since the weekend.  Two different observers were able to see five of them at once.  A birder who was determined to get out on Saturday despite the frigid wind was rewarded by seeing not only five eagles but also an ICELAND GULL.  SNOWY OWLS have been seen at two different locations, and a BARRED OWL was seen today.  There have been at least two sightings of RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER.  Up to three COMMON RAVENS have been scavenging on dead ducks.  A few AMERICAN ROBINS have been spotted on even the coldest days.

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 may need to wade through water that is knee-deep when calm and is sometimes obscured by a layer of ice.  They may also encounter a slippery coating of ice on the rocks.  Ice cleats are recommended. 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