Presqu'ile Provincial Park has had its share of rare and uncommon birds this week, some of which have been very cooperative in posing for visiting birders.
A flock of 17 SNOW GEESE flew over the Park entrance on November 20, an unusually high number for this species at Presqu'ile. The 50 TUNDRA SWANS in Presqu'ile Bay on November 22 were also the largest number ever recorded at Presqu'ile. A few WOOD DUCKS were still in the marsh on four of the last seven days. Part of the marsh where a good variety of dabbling ducks has been easily visible had frozen over one morning, but most of the ducks remained in patches of open water until the ice disappeared. Among them, at the risk of sounding like a broken record (if anyone remembers what a record was), a male EURASIAN WIGEON has been there throughout this month and will likely remain until at least the next sub-zero temperatures. It is tempting to speculate that the female wigeon with which it has been consorting almost continuously was also of that species. The first CANVASBACK of the fall, a female, was with a flock of REDHEADS and SCAUP in Presqu'ile Bay on November 23. Not entirely unexpected was a male BARROW'S GOLDENEYE that has been near the lighthouse for the past two days, arriving one day later than last year. HOODED MERGANSERS have been in the marsh on four of the past five days. Singles of RED-THROATED LOON and COMMON LOON and a few HORNED GREBES have been in Presqu'ile Bay this week. Four late DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS have been regular at the calf pasture. A GREAT BLUE HERON was in the marsh on November 21.
Among the five species of hawks seen in the past few days were an adult BALD EAGLE, a COOPER'S HAWK, and a MERLIN. For the third time this fall, three RUFFED GROUSE were seen together. Over 100 AMERICAN COOTS, 174 by one count, have been present all week at the camp office viewing stand. Three BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS were still at Owen Point today.
Other shorebirds this week were SANDERLINGS, a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER, PURPLE SANDPIPERS (not seen since Sunday), and DUNLINS. Given that a GLAUCOUS GULL was on the north side of Presqu'ile Bay last Friday, one can expect both that species and ICELAND GULL to appear in the Park soon. A GREAT HORNED OWL was in Newcastle woods on Monday. That was also the first day on which a SNOWY OWL was found. There have been as many as three on Gull Island and Sebastopol Island every day since then. At one point all three could be seen from Owen Point. BARRED OWLS are always present, as they have been at least twice this week.
RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS are appearing at feeders along Bayshore Road.
There have been at least three NORTHERN SHRIKE sightings this week. Two observers separately heard a COMMON RAVEN on Tuesday. The CAROLINA WREN that has taken up residence at 83 Bayshore Road continues to perform from time to time. AMERICAN PIPITS on Gull Island were rather late. The WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS at 83 Bayshore Road appear to be planning to winter there. SNOW BUNTINGS were on Gull Island on Sunday and Tuesday. RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS and COMMON GRACKLES are patronizing several feeders along Bayshore Road. For a few days two PURPLE FINCHES were at 83 Bayshore Road, and PINE SISKINS are appearing in reasonably good numbers here and there.
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. Visitors to Gull Island not using a boat should be prepared to wade through shin-deep water in which there is often a swift current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven and slippery. It should also be noted that, because duck hunting is given priority on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Gull Island, High Bluff Island, Owen Point, and part of the calf pasture are not available for bird-watching on those days. 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.