Open conditions throughout Presqu'ile Provincial Park have enabled water birds to continue frequenting places where they can easily be observed. At the same time, land birds have no trouble remaining hidden until such time as snow cover forces them to gather at roadsides or feeders. There has been enough of interest to birders to keep most of them happy, even those misguided enough to govern their birding as if winter had begun.
The two SNOW GEESE that were accompanying other geese on the beach through much of last month were present again this morning, though they had not always been visible recently at other times of day, when they were presumably off foraging in some corn field. On Sunday two adult TUNDRA SWANS and an immature were off Gull Island before taking off to the east. A NORTHERN SHOVELER was in the marsh on Monday, and a NORTHERN PINTAIL continues there as a daily sighting. Three GREEN-WINGED TEAL were there today. BLACK SCOTERS were in Popham Bay on three of the past five days (four individuals on Sunday). A HOODED MERGANSER was in the marsh on two of the last four days. The only BALD EAGLE in recent weeks was reportedly sighted on High Bluff Island, where other raptors have been seen almost every day, including NORTHERN HARRIER, RED-TAILED HAWK, and a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK that is almost totally black. Two AMERICAN COOTS were at the outer edge of the marsh yesterday. The only shorebirds this week were DUNLINS, two on Sunday and one today. On Sunday and Monday, over 100 BONAPARTE'S GULLS were along the beach as far south as Owen Point, among which on Monday was one LITTLE GULL. An ICELAND GULL was also there. Can GLAUCOUS GULLS be far behind?
SNOWY OWLS have been a featured attraction, even gaining attention from local media. In addition to the one that has been on Gull Island (except when disturbed enough to relocate to one of the other islands) for almost four weeks, one other bird sat atop the lighthouse all Sunday afternoon, delighting passersby and photographers as well as casual birders. On the next day, another one, or perhaps the same one, perched beside the beach until disturbed. A BARRED OWL was photographed yesterday along Paxton Drive before flying back into the woods. A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER paid a brief visit to a feeder at 186 Bayshore Road. Two COMMON RAVENS flew towards the Park on Monday. Although wintering AMERICAN ROBINS are not unusual at Presqu'ile, the one sitting atop a tall tree on High Bluff Island was a surprise. SNOW BUNTINGS were seen on two different days.
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 water that is knee-deep, not taking into account any wave action, 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 on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Gull Island, High Bluff Island, 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