On Sunday at Presqu'ile Provincial Park there was a flurry (nasty word) of bird sightings, including the remote possibility that some of them might actually reflect an end to winter.
Waterfowl have been coming and going as the wind moves the ice into and out of Presqu'ile Bay. For the first time in many weeks, a dabbling duck, a lone male MALLARD, showed up yesterday at Salt Point. Among the hundreds of GREATER SCAUP, a few birders have spotted a male CANVASBACK, a few REDHEADS, and a male RING-NECKED DUCK. After being absent since late January, the first returning WHITE-WINGED SCOTER arrived on Saturday, and up to six have been present on most days since then. The first HOODED MERGANSER of the year, a female, was found on Sunday. A remarkable showing of BALD EAGLES on Sunday generated a lot of interest from birders and non-birders. Several reported seeing seven or eight and one birder counted ten, a number that was quite unprecedented at Presqu'ile in winter. Since numbers from one or two to three or four have been the norm for most of the winter, one wonders whether that influx was in part an early migration since BALD EAGLES are among the first spring arrivals in places like the Northwest Territories. Smaller counts later this week have revealed no more than four in sight at any one time. A COOPER'S HAWK was at Salt Point on Sunday and RED-TAILED HAWKS have been seen a few times. To my knowledge, no one has had the ambition (a euphemism for foolhardiness) to visit Gull Island recently, but in a normal year the RING-BILLED GULLS that nest there would be milling around by this date searching for a patch of bare ground on which to establish their territories. A GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL this morning was the first in a few weeks. A BARRED OWL was seen on February 20.
COMMON RAVENS continue to appear here and there. AMERICAN ROBINS have managed to find buckthorn and other berries to survive. On the other hand, there have been no reported sightings of the wintering PINE WARBLER for over a week. WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS have been frequenting feeders at the camp office and at 85 Bayshore Road. Two COMMON GRACKLES were at the latter address on Sunday. A HOARY REDPOLL accompanied a flock of several dozen COMMON REDPOLLS at 186 Bayshore Road this morning.
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” can walk across the gap from Owen Point without special footwear. Ice conditions may make for slippery walking. 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.