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Birding Report

This has not been an auspicious week for birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park. (For those interested in word origins, the Latin word "auspex" refers to the bird watcher in ancient Rome.) Nevertheless, at least one surprise was found by birders who braved the elements to visit the Park. For the past several days, there has been continuous ice cover over all of Presqu'ile Bay, a phenomenon that occurs rarely and seldom lasts for more than a few hours. This afternoon, however, a southerly wind has rapidly blown much of the ice away from the outer bay and has begun to expose open water off Salt Point.

TRUMPETER SWANS were reported on January 29 and TUNDRA SWANS reached a high of about 20 birds on that date, before Presqu'ile Bay froze over.

Other waterfowl have been scarce for this time of year. A WHITE-WINGED SCOTER was at Salt Point before the freeze-up, and the long-staying BARROW'S GOLDENEYE and the hybrid duck reported last week have not been seen since January 31. While the ice was moving out this afternoon, diving ducks, mostly GREATER SCAUP, were streaming back into the bay.

It is likely that REDHEADS and CANVASBACKS will be arriving within hours. A HORNED GREBE, one of very few January records, swam towards the lighthouse on January 29 but has not been seen since.

Both adult and immature BALD EAGLES appeared several times in the past week near the lighthouse. BARRED OWLS continue to be seen irregularly.

A NORTHERN SHRIKE was present on January 30. COMMON RAVENS were seen on two consecutive days.

All of the remaining sightings in this report were at feeders along Bayshore Road: a CAROLINA WREN appearing regularly at # 186, a SONG SPARROW at # 30, two WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS at # 83, about ten RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS between # 83 and # 102, and a PINE SISKIN at # 186.

The male BARROW'S GOLDENEYE, listed as missing in action in yesterday's report, is back on duty this morning, best seen with a scope from 186 Bayshore Road or from the lighthouse.

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 now ice-covered most of the time, but the ice, while appearing to be thick, might not support the weight of a human.

However, the water beneath the crust, if there is any, 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.

Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.

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Fred Helleiner