Since last weekend, the onset of wintry conditions has significantly altered birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park. Not only has much of the open water frozen over, but birders themselves have become scarce, a situation that will change this Sunday during the Christmas Bird Count.
On Sunday 380 MUTE SWANS were counted, as well as several duck species generally encountered in only small numbers in winter: 9 GADWALLS, AMERICAN WIGEON, 5 NORTHERN SHOVELERS, 28 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS. Also on that day, two HORNED GREBES were in Popham Bay and one in Presqu'ile Bay. A DUNLIN was on Gull Tombolo on Sunday and Tuesday. There were still three BONAPARTE'S GULLS off Owen Point on Sunday. In years past, both IVORY GULL and LITTLE GULL have been seen at Presqu'ile in the last few days of astronomical autumn, including one of the former during a Christmas Bird Count. A COMMON LOON was off the lighthouse on December 10 and 13.
Two ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS were on High Bluff Island on Sunday. BARRED OWLS are present year-round in the Park, and one was photographed this week. A PILEATED WOODPECKER at the entrance to Jobes' Woods was unconcerned about the four birders who watched it from a short distance for 15 minutes. Four HORNED LARKS were on Gull Tombolo on Tuesday, and 30 SNOW BUNTINGS were there on Sunday. A SAVANNAH SPARROW with no tail paid a brief visit to 186 Bayshore Road yesterday.
The Savannah Sparrow that was at 186 Bayshore Road briefly yesterday re-appeared five minutes after this week's birding report was sent.
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 (now a tombolo) are now able to walk there without special footwear, but under certain conditions such as high winds there may be a few metres of water a few centimetres deep to cross. Much of the shoreline there is ice-covered, making walking potentially dangerous. It should also be noted that, because duck hunting is given priority this Saturday, Owen Point, Gull Tombolo, High Bluff Island, and part of the calf pasture are not available for bird-watching on that day.
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