Highly variable weather conditions at Presqu'ile Provincial Park have given rise to highly variable success rates for visiting birders. On good days, many species, including some that are uncommon, can be found.
MUTE SWANS now number well over 400, approaching the numbers that were present in late December. A TRUMPETER SWAN and two TUNDRA SWANS have been among them as recently as yesterday. A male CANVASBACK was seen on January 7. REDHEADS come and go more than any other species, reaching a high of about 350 on January 6 and almost disappearing on other days. There have been sightings of single RING-NECKED DUCK and LESSER SCAUP. Up to five WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS continue to be seen on most days near the lighthouse. The flock of WILD TURKEYS at the west end of the calf pasture has become more conspicuous, being seen by a number of observers. Birders with a scope have had some success in scanning the huge flock of gulls that spends the day on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay. In addition to the predominant HERRING GULLS, there have been a single RING-BILLED GULL (as well as another at Owen Point), at least three ICELAND GULLS, two GLAUCOUS GULLS, and half a dozen GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS. It would not be out of the question if a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL were among them, but the distance involved in finding and identifying such a bird would be a challenge.
BALD EAGLES have been seen on four of the last seven days, as many as five at a time, either sitting on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay or soaring overhead. Three NORTHERN HARRIERS were on High Bluff Island this morning, in addition to at least one ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK. A COOPER'S HAWK sat watching the bird feeders at 186 Bayshore Road yesterday. On Sunday, two SNOWY OWLS were on Gull Island. Yesterday one was sitting on a duck blind in the marsh and today one was on Sebastopol Island. On Friday evening a NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL was photographed outside 54 Bayshore Road. A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER was attracted to the pocket of birds consuming food that had been put out for chickadees on Paxton Drive. One or two COMMON RAVENS were seen this week. Eight HORNED LARKS were on Gull Island on Sunday. AMERICAN ROBINS are in the Park in flocks of up to 250 or more. A probable AMERICAN PIPIT flew over Owen Point yesterday. About 200 SNOW BUNTINGS were on Gull Island on Sunday, but today only about 30 could be found. Two SONG SPARROWS and two WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS patronize feeders on Bayshore Road.
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 (a couple of metres of water with a depth of a centimetre or two separated it from Owen Point recently) may encounter a slippery coating of ice on the rocks and drifts of snow obscuring water below. Ice cleats are recommended.
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.