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Birding Report

Presqu'ile Provincial Park continues to be a hot spot for winter birding. Observers can find a number of species not commonly found in winter, especially water birds, as long as there is open water, of which there has been plenty in the past week.

On most days, one or two TRUMPETER SWANS can be seen and/or heard among the hundreds of MUTE SWANS in Presqu'ile Bay. On January 17, six TUNDRA SWANS were also there. Two GADWALLS that were there on January 15 have not been seen since. The number of CANVASBACKS, while still in single digits, is rising day by day, as is the number of REDHEADS, now over 100. No one has been able to find a LESSER SCAUP among the hundreds of GREATER SCAUP, which is not surprising, given that the two species are almost identical.
 
WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS can easily be found both in the bay and in the open water of Lake Ontario. Today was the first day that the BARROW'S GOLDENEYE first detected almost two weeks ago could not be found, but it seems unlikely that it has left Presqu'ile waters altogether. A male HOODED MERGANSER has been in Presqu'ile Bay since January 17. A lone RUDDY DUCK was swimming near the Salt Point lighthouse on January 20.
A NORTHERN HARRIER was on Gull Island on January 16. On January 18, the WILD TURKEY that has entertained Bayshore Road residents and visitors periodically for weeks repeated its jay-walking habit in front of a passing car. Do jays also do that? One or two AMERICAN COOTS were off the government dock for seven consecutive days but could not be found today. There has been a rapid increase in the past few days of gulls of several species, sometimes off Gull Island and sometimes on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay.
Interesting species found on at least two of the past seven days include ICELAND GULL, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, and GLAUCOUS GULL, with two or more of each present. It is uncertain whether the dark-plumaged SNOWY OWL that was in the Owen Point/Gull Island area three times recently is the same bird as the one that was on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay on three different days, apparently a lighter-plumaged bird. The continued presence of numerous BARRED OWLS raises the question of when they will be departing.

A HORNED LARK was seen again on Gull Island, likely the same individual that has been there off and on throughout the season, perhaps wondering why winter has not yet arrived. Both BROWN CREEPER and GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET appeared on the same day at 186 Bayshore Road. A flock of ten AMERICAN ROBINS flying overhead was the largest group seen in the Park for many weeks. A flock of SNOW BUNTINGS can often be seen off Owen Point. The wintering ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK at the group campground parking lot was still present today. The wintering RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD on Bayshore Road near Langton Avenue often accompanies a small flock of EUROPEAN STARLINGS.

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. The narrow channel between Owen Point and Gull Island is normally ice-covered at this time of year, but the ice, while appearing to be thick, might not support the weight of a human. However, the water beneath the crust is only ankle-deep. The surrounding shoreline can be very slippery. 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.

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Fred Helleiner