The cold weather eased up a bit by week’s end but the birding seemed pretty quiet for the most part.
Six TUNDRA SWAN were reported on 19 Nov. Puddle ducks are much scarcer now and consist mainly of MALLARDS and AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS. Two CANVASBACK were off the Lighthouse on 15 Nov. Two BLACK SCOTER were seen on 17 Nov. A somewhat late RED-THROATED LOON was off Beach 1 on 20 Nov. Six COMMON LOONS were still around on 19 Nov. Five HORNED GREBES were seen on 19 Nov. DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS have fallen off greatly with singles on 15 and 17 Nov. The only post-freeze sighting of a GREAT BLUE HERON was a single on 18 Nov.
An immature BALD EAGLE was seen on 20 Nov. Several days with northerly winds resulted in some migrating raptors being seen over the gate. The best day was 16 Nov when a TURKEY VULTURE, 2 GOLDEN EAGLES, 3 RED-TAILED HAWKS and a dark morph ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK flew over in 45 minutes. At least four ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS and one RED-TAILED HAWK could be seen on High Bluff Island on 17 Nov. Associated with the same raptor movement on 16 Nov was a lone SANDHILL CRANE flying in high circles. Shorebirds have dwindled significantly with the cold – the only reports being five DUNLIN on 16 Nov and eight SANDERLING on 17 Nov.
The first SNOWY OWL of winter showed up on 19 Nov, which is a little later than normal. A BARRED OWL was hunting in daylight near the gate on 20 Nov. The first NORTHERN SHRIKE of winter was seen on 16 Nov. Single YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS were seen on 16 and 19 Nov.
CHIPPING SPARROWS are rare in winter so it is a bit unusual to have four at one feeder on 18 Nov. The number was down to one by 20 Nov. RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS and COMMON GRACKLES persist at several feeders in small numbers. BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS, much less frequent at this time of year, were seen at several sites: a male at the Birdhouse Nature Store feeders just outside the gate on 16 Nov, a female on Gull Is. on 17 Nov, and two at a Bayshore Rd feeder on 20 Nov.
Presqu’ile allows waterfowl hunting on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and the public is not permitted in hunting areas on those days. The areas affected are the marsh, Calf Pasture Point, Gull and High Bluff Is., the High Bluff Campground and Owen Pt. The hunt will continue until 21 December.
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).