In anticipation of this Sunday's Christmas Bird Count at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, birders have managed to turn up a few interesting birds that are not normally here at this time of year.
As well as the 180 MUTE SWANS that were counted today, a TRUMPETER SWAN was calling repeatedly at dawn in Presqu'ile Bay, perhaps warning the hunters to back off. There have been as many as six TUNDRA SWANS there, and two were there this afternoon. Two AMERICAN WIGEONS were seen yesterday and two NORTHERN PINTAILS yesterday and today. A LESSER SCAUP was reported on Tuesday. Two BLACK SCOTERS flew in and landed yesterday. A BARROW'S GOLDENEYE was still at the lighthouse on December 7, but has not been seen since. On four of the last seven days a RED-THROATED LOON has been in Presqu'ile Bay and two were there today. The latest HORNED GREBE sightings were on December 8. Two GREAT BLUE HERONS were in the marsh on December 9 and one the next day. Another was seen this morning at the causeway leading into the Park. SHARP-SHINNED, COOPER'S, and ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS have been seen by birders on Gull Island. Also on Gull Island, a PURPLE SANDPIPER was seen on December 11 and three DUNLINS on December 8, 9, and 13. High counts of gulls included 32 BONAPARTE'S and 14 GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS.
Although bird migration has slowed to a crawl, exotic birds from far afield can still show up at this time of year, for example the BAND-TAILED PIGEON that was at Presqu'ile on December 18, thirty-three years ago. The three owl species found in the Park this past week were GREAT HORNED, SNOWY (up to four on the offshore islands and one on the mainland), and BARRED OWLS. A BELTED KINGFISHER was at the calf pasture on December 10. Two BOREAL CHICKADEES were seen yesterday. One observer saw two different BROWN CREEPERS on the same day, another saw a WINTER WREN, and another saw a HERMIT THRUSH, all of which are uncommon this late in the year. BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS are more plentiful at Presqu'ile than they have been for several years, with flocks being seen in several different locations. SNOW BUNTINGS are being seen regularly on Gull Island. A RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD was at 83 Bayshore Road today. Small flocks of PINE GROSBEAKS are staying in the same general areas along Bayshore Road. A HOARY REDPOLL showed up at 83 Bayshore Road on December 9 and was seen irregularly until December 11.
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 able to walk across the gap without special footwear unless a wind change creates a gap of shallow water. It should also be noted that, becauseduck 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.