HIGHLIGHTS: NORTHERN PINTAIL, NORTHERN GOSHAWK, EASTERN BLUEBIRD, BROWN THRASHER
It was a week of variable weather with some subtle changes in birdlife. A few migrants arrived plus some other birds appeared in places they hadn’t previously been in but may represent a more local movement than actual migration.
Three NORTHERN PINTAIL seen on 9 Feb and 11 Feb are newly arrived migrants. Presumably the same three were seen on 10 Feb at Barcovan channel – about 5 km E of the Presqu’ile Lighthouse in company with a GADWALL and AMERICAN WIGEON but the latter two didn’t make it to the Park. Diving ducks are building slowly with a peak count of 1200 GREATER SCAUP on 10 Feb. REDHEAD numbers reached 150 on 10 and 14 Feb. A few CANVASBACK were also present in the scaup flock this week. WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS were seen throughout the week with a high of 15 on 13 Feb. A COMMON MERGANSER was noted on 14 Feb and 2 RED-BREASTED MERGANSER were seen on 10 Feb.
BALD EAGLES were seen around Presqu’ile Bay and the islands throughout the week with a high count of 3 on 8 Feb and 10 Feb. An immature NORTHERN GOSHAWK terrorized a Bayshore Rd feeder on 11 Feb. On the same day a large falcon – either PEREGRINE or GYRFALCON - was glimpsed but not identified to species. SNOWY OWLS were seen on Gull Is and Presqu’ile Bay on and off through the week, and several BARRED OWLS were also noted.
In the “signs of spring” department, woodpeckers are starting to drum and become more vocal. More AMERICAN CROWS are arriving at traditional breeding sites. Several GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS were noted this week in places they have not been recently – likely a more local movement rather than migrants arriving from afar. Six EASTERN BLUEBIRDS showed up by the Birdhouse Nature Store just outside the gate on 14 Feb. Like the kinglets, these are likely birds wintering nearby and moving more locally. The overwintering BROWN THRASHER continues at a Bayshore Rd feeder. Three CEDAR WAXWINGS - the first in ages - were seen with AMERICAN ROBINS just west of the Calf Pasture field on 14 Feb.
Two SNOW BUNTINGS flew past Owen Pt. on 10 Feb. A HOUSE FINCH on 11 Feb was the first in weeks. Otherwise AMERICAN GOLDFINCH was the only other finch noted.
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).