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Birding Report

With the exception of three surprises on Monday morning and the continued presence of uncommon or rare birds that have been present for a while, birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park has slowed to the customary mid-February doldrums. Moreover, there is no southerly component in the forecasted winds for at least the next week, indicating that there is unlikely to be much change until later in the month.

 

With half of Presqu'ile Bay still frozen, there have been very few CANVASBACKS and REDHEADS in evidence, and most of the GREATER SCAUP (up to 3,000) have been in the open lake off Chatterton Point. A careful scan often reveals WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS. The male BARROW'S GOLDENEYE that has been attracting birders to Presqu'ile has been less regular than before in its habits, often staying barely within range of a good spotting scope. At other times, it reverts to its usual haunts off the lighthouse in the vicinity of a red marker buoy and is there as I type this. With the Waterfowl Viewing Weekends barely five weeks away, any significant change in the wind direction should entice the ducks that are now in the Niagara River and other more southerly locations to move to Presqu'ile.

 

Both COOPER'S HAWK and NORTHERN GOSHAWK have been seen in the eastern part of the peninsula in the past week. On February 8, a rare-in-winter PEREGRINE FALCON made a desultory pass (if any peregrine pass can be described in those terms) over a group of ducks near the lighthouse before turning back in the direction whence it came. That may be the same bird that was in the area in late December and is the first February record for the Park. RUFFED GROUSE were in a tree in two different locations today. An ICELAND GULL was also seen today. A SNOWY OWL continues to sit on the ice off the calf pasture, and photogenic BARRED OWLS continue to wow visiting birders and photographers.

 

A CAROLINA WREN, last seen over a month ago, returned twice to the feeders at 115 Bayshore Road, and was last noticed on February 5. An AMERICAN ROBIN took advantage of a heated bird bath to have a long drink on a cold day. A SONG SPARROW, which must certainly have been hiding nearby for the past 2-3 months, was discovered at a feeder at 116 Bayshore Road. The RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD that has been wintering on Bayshore Road was last noticed on February 5, but may still be present.

A BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD, the only one at Presqu'ile this winter, paid a brief visit to a feeder at 186 Bayshore Road.

 

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