Typically, February is a slow month for birding. The past week at Presqu'ile Provincial Park has been no exception, but a surprising foretaste of spring occurred yesterday.
In the aftermath of the warm front and accompanying southerly winds that passed through Presqu'ile during the night on Tuesday, three male AMERICAN WIGEONS appeared yesterday among the REDHEADS and GREATER SCAUP at the government dock. To my knowledge, no one has reported that species anywhere near Presqu'ile all winter, so those birds may be genuine spring migrants. Other ducks of interest, including up to 22 CANVASBACKS, a male RING-NECKED DUCK, two LESSER SCAUP, and a few WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS, are merely a continuing presence from recent weeks. Likewise, the WILD TURKEYS in the calf pasture that have been seen repeatedly all winter were seen again this week.
The five BALD EAGLES that were soaring high overhead on February 1 may have been moving towards their breeding territories elsewhere, since the only subsequent sightings at Presqu'ile were single birds on February 2 and 3. Two NORTHERN HARRIERS were hunting together in a blizzard on Gull Island on Monday. Other raptors seen this week were a RED-TAILED HAWK seen through a scope from the government dock, a SNOWY OWL on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay, a sleeping BARRED OWL photographed beside the road in the Park, and a reported PEREGRINE FALCON at the lighthouse on Monday, a species not previously reported in the Park this winter.
The injured COMMON RAVEN patrolling the lawns on Bayshore Road was still present this morning. AMERICAN ROBINS have been seen every day this week. A dozen CEDAR WAXWINGS were at the calf pasture on Monday, but the presence of a flock of BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS in Brighton late this afternoon has raised hopes that some may show up in the Park. Two PINE SISKINS are regular patrons of the feeders at 186 Bayshore Road, as is a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW at 83 Bayshore Road. SNOW BUNTINGS were present on Gull Island on Monday.
Locations within the Park are shown on a map at the back of a tabloidthat is available at the Park gate. Visitors to Gull Island (a few metresof ankle-deep water separate it from Owen Point) mayencounter a slippery coating of ice on the rocks and drifts of snowobscuring water below. Ice cleats are recommended.
Birders are encouraged to record their observations on the bird sightingsboard 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.