Almost all the coverage this week was focused on the group of PURPLE SANDPIPERS and a DUNLIN that continue to frequent Owen Pt; otherwise there were not many reports to review.
Waterfowl in Presqu’ile Bay continues to change around. In addition to the wintering group of GREATER SCAUP there was also a large influx of REDHEADS this week, peaking at 470 birds on 1 Jan. Mixed in were two CANVASBACKS on 1 Jan followed by a single the next day. A small number of WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS continue to be seen in the Bay or off the picnic areas with the high being eight on 2 Jan. Most surprising was a single RUDDY DUCK seen off the Government Dock on Bayshore Rd on 2 Jan – one of only a few winter records for this species here.
A few BALD EAGLES were seen but their numbers have decreased since most of the ice melted off in Presqu’ile Bay. The continuing show of PURPLE SANDPIPERS (and a lingering DUNLIN) at Owen Pt. has provided thrilling looks at this very special species all week. Most of the time they have been on the tip of Owen Pt. but in the last few days they have been more erratic, spending most of their time on the Islands instead. Usually there are three PURPLES but five were present on New Years Day!
SNOWY OWLS have been seen regularly around the islands and on the ice or shore of Presqu’ile Bay. It would seem that at least three are present. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS have been seen throughout the week, which is interesting because most seem to leave the park (or go dead quiet) in previous winters. MERLINS were in evidence this week with sightings of birds along Bayshore Rd and near the gate all week.
A WINTER WREN was seen near the Lighthouse on 2 Jan, likely the same bird seen intermittently over the past month. CEDAR WAXWINGS have picked up in numbers with a high count of 70 on 31 Dec. HOUSE FINCH and AMERICAN GOLDFINCH remain the only finches reported, the latter increasing somewhat over previous weeks.
Finally, blackbirds continue to visit the Birdhouse Nature Store by the Park Gate, although somewhat erratically. Two continuing COMMON GRACKLES were last seen on 2 Jan. A male RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD was also seen on 2 Jan. More unexpected was a single BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD at a Bayshore Rd. feeder on 2 Jan.
Directions: Presqu’ile Provincial Park is located on the north shore of Lake Ontario, just south of the town of Brighton. It can be reached from either Hwy. 401, or Cty. Rd. 2 and is well signed. A Park map can be found in the information tabloid available at the Park gate. Presqu’ile’s two offshore islands – Gull and High Bluff – support a large multi-species colonial bird nesting area and access is not permitted during the breeding season (10 March-10 September).