Birding has picked up a little at Presqu'ile Provincial Park over the past week, largely because of an influx of birders anxious to see one of the Park's specialties.
The long-staying but unreliable pair of SNOW GEESE was seen again on Sunday morning. On the morning of December 7, seven TUNDRA SWANS were sleeping off the lighthouse as if having just completed a long migratory flight. Four GADWALLS were off Gull Island on Tuesday. A NORTHERN SHOVELER was seen on two different days. Both male and female NORTHERN PINTAIL have been among the MALLARDS in the marsh off and on during the week. A female RING-NECKED DUCK was off 38 Bayshore Road this morning. SURF, WHITE-WINGED, and BLACK SCOTERS have all been seen this week. Although HARLEQUIN DUCKS are rare at Presqu'ile, most records come from December and the species should be watched for.
Five WILD TURKEYS were at the calf pasture on Tuesday. A RED-THROATED LOON flew past Owen Point. Rather late sightings of both PIED-BILLED and HORNED GREBE were noted on December 8 and 7, respectively. An AMERICAN COOT was off 38 Bayshore Road this morning. There has been a steady and unexpected increase this week in both numbers and variety of shorebirds on Gull Island. On Sunday a single PURPLE SANDPIPER, first spotted on Friday by hunters, delighted a large group of birders who had come hoping to see that species, which is rare in most parts of Ontario but somewhat regular at Presqu'ile in the last two months of the year. By Tuesday it had been joined by a DUNLIN, and today both of those species were joined by a very late SANDERLING. All three of those birds were close enough to each other to be seen within the field of a spotting scope. Pending confirmation, a possible BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE was photographed this afternoon. A LITTLE GULL and a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL were on beach 1 on Sunday, an ICELAND GULL was off Gull Island on Tuesday, and the first GLAUCOUS GULL of the season was there today. The SNOWY OWL that first showed up over a month ago was still present today but was disturbed by an overly keen photographer. It was back later on Sebastopol Island.
A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER appeared at 83 Bayshore Road and a PILEATED WOODPECKER flew over Bayshore Road this morning. An AMERICAN KESTREL, the first in several weeks, was seen on Tuesday. A birder heard the call note of a HERMIT THRUSH but could not locate the bird. An AMERICAN ROBIN, one of seven seen this week, was at Owen Point, perhaps awaiting an opportunity to cross the lake. The first CEDAR WAXWING in a few weeks was found on Tuesday. Two SNOW BUNTINGS were also seen on that day. A COMMON GRACKLE was at 83 Bayshore Road on Sunday. A SONG SPARROW was on Gull Island today. HOUSE SPARROWS appear to have taken a liking to the feeders at 102 Bayshore Road.
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