Highlights: DUNLIN, EASTERN BLUEBIRD, HERMIT THRUSH, BROWN THRASHER, GRAY CATBIRD, WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW, EVENING GROSBEAK
The week was fairly quiet, likely due to the generally poor weather, but waterfowl continue to abound, especially diving ducks.
MUTE SWANS, the introduced plague of Presqu’ile Bay, peaked at 256 on 25 Nov, a number that will only swell and other areas freeze-up. Late sightings of single AMERICAN WIGEON, NORTHERN PINTAIL and RING-NECKED DUCK were noted near the Lighthouse on 24 Nov. One party saw all three SCOTERS this week with 24 WHITE-WINGED, 8 SURF and 2 BLACK on 25 Nov. WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS were also seen at various sites throughout the week. A high count of 1800 LONG-TAILED DUCKS was also noted on 25 Nov. HOODED MERGANSERS were seen for the first time in a while with 3 on 24 Nov and 5 the next day.
WILD TURKEY is now well established here and is easily seen most days in the Calf Pasture and picnic areas. Four HORNED GREBE were still around on 25 Nov. Presumably the same adult BALD EAGLE was widely seen at various locations on 28-29 Nov. A NORTHERN HARRIER was seen near the gate on 28 Nov. A few COOPER’S HAWKS were spotted during the week and a RED-TALED HAWK was reported on 28 Nov.
The only shorebird reported was a DUNLIN on Gull Is on 29 Nov. A single BONAPARTE’S GULL was seen on 25 Nov. BARRED OWLS were seen several times in their usual haunts but for the first time in a month, no SNOWY OWLS were seen. NORTHERN SHRIKES made their presence known with sightings of single birds on 25 Nov, 27 Nov and 29 Nov. Four HORNED LARKS were seen flying out to Gull Is. from Owen Pt. on 29 Nov.
Five EASTERN BLUEBIRDS were seen on Paxton Dr on the late date of 28 Nov and a late HERMIT THRUSH was noted on 24 Nov. Totally unexpected was a GRAY CATBIRD hiding in a patch of dense lamb’s quarters on Gull Is. on 29 Nov and the long-staying BROWN THRASHER continues at a Bayshore Rd feeder. Nine CEDAR WAXWINGS on 25 Nov was the only report of this species. SNOW BUNTINGS have been unusually scarce this fall but a flock of 110 followed by 15 more flying over Gull Is on 29 Nov may indicate an improvement in numbers.
The “usual” sparrows – DARK-EYED JUNCO, AMERICAN TREE and a smattering of WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS were all seen this week. Less common was an adult WHITE-CROWNED coming to the feeder by the Campground Office on 29 Nov and three SWAMP PARROWS in the small wetland at the base of Owen Pt.
A handful of RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS and COMMON GRACKLES are still being seen at feeders. Finches continue to baffle. A few HOUSE and PURPLE FINCHES are frequenting feeders. A single COMMON REDPOLL appeared at one feeder on 28 Nov while four more showed up at another feeder nearby on the same day. PINE SISKINS, which had seemingly left the area, have returned in smaller numbers with a peak of 12 on 29 Nov. Finally EVENING GROSBEAKS continue to be seen erratically with 26 on 27 Nov and 6 on 28 Nov.
The Presqu’ile Christmas Bird Count will be held on Sunday, 16 December. If anyone would like to take part, please contact me privately.
Note that fall waterfowl hunting in now occurring in the Park which means park users cannot go to Owen Pt., the islands, the marsh (boardwalk is open), or Calf Pasture Pt. on Saturdays, Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays even if no one is hunting on those days. This restriction will last until mid December so plan your trip accordingly.
Directions: Presqu’ile Provincial Park is located on the north shore of Lake Ontario, just south of the town of Brighton. It can be reached from either Hwy. 401, or Cty. Rd. 2 and is well signed. A Park map can be found in the information tabloid available at the Park gate. Presqu’ile’s two offshore islands – Gull and High Bluff – support a large multi-species colonial bird nesting area and access is not permitted during the breeding season (10 March-10 September).