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Birding Report

At Presqu'ile Provincial Park, as at most other places in southern Ontario, birding in early February is marked by consistency. That is, almost every bird, whether a land bird or a water bird, remains in the same general location day after day. This, of course, makes it easier to follow up on sightings made previously by others.

Perhaps because of the unusual amount of open water this winter, the gathering of MUTE SWANS in Presqu'ile Bay has been smaller this year than in recent winters but still numbering well over one hundred birds.

Among them this week have been a single TRUMPETER SWAN and two TUNDRA SWANS. After a flock of five CANVASBACKS flew by last Friday, not one has been seen since then. More should be arriving any day now. A report of a KING EIDER earlier this week has brought a number of birders in search of it, but to my knowledge none has been successful. That species has become very rare at Presqu'ile, the last previous record, I believe, being about five years ago. Both male and female WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS can usually be found in small numbers off the lighthouse. A male BARROW'S GOLDENEYE has been there for nine of the last ten days.

An immature BALD EAGLE was at the lighthouse on Sunday and today. On three days this week a WILD TURKEY has been on the road near the Atkins Lane/Paxton Drive junction, often acting remarkably tame and even causing a minor traffic jam. ICELAND and GLAUCOUS GULLS are the only uncommon larids seen in the past week. A SNOWY OWL has become a "regular" on the ice off the calf pasture, and BARRED OWLS are still regular in several parts of the Park.

Single NORTHERN SHRIKES have appeared in two widely separated places in the Park. Two BROWN CREEPERS in the lighthouse area have appeared together on two recent occasions. A small flock of CEDAR WAXWINGS seen on January 29 would be a common sighting in most winters but is one of only very few in southern Ontario this winter and the only record since November at Presqu'ile. A RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD continues to be seen near the Langton Avenue/Bayshore Road junction.

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