Fewer birders than usual have ventured to Presqu'ile Provincial Park this week, and as a result there are fewer sightings to report, but the quality of some of the birds seen has been rewarding to those who have persevered.
Two adult and one juvenile TUNDRA SWAN were swimming off Gull Island this morning. A few days ago, there were three adults in the marsh.
The EURASIAN WIGEON that first appeared almost a month ago is still present. For a few days (November 18 - 23) it was frequenting the east shore of High Bluff Island, where viewing conditions had to be good in order for it to be seen from Gull Island. Yesterday it was re-discovered in the marsh, slightly to the east of where it used to forage, and it was still there this morning, near the edge of the newly formed ice margin, where it seems likely to stay until the next cold night freezes the marsh. Whether it will then return to the other location (which seldom freezes over) remains to be seen. Two NORTHERN SHOVELERS were in the marsh on November 19, and NORTHERN PINTAILS have been there in small numbers fairly consistently all week. Today there were also two of the latter off Gull Island. There have been a few WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS in Presqu'ile Bay. On November 22 and 23, a male BARROW'S GOLDENEYE was off 186 Bayshore Road, and on November 24 a clearly identifiable female (i.e., with a bright yellow bill and the typical head shape) was there. A HOODED MERGANSER was in Popham Bay on November 22.
An immature BALD EAGLE was near Owen Point twice this week. The latest sightings of a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER were on November 21 and 23 (a rather late date), in the company of a small flock of DUNLINS. Only one of the latter could be found on November 25, and that one had an injured leg. PURPLE SANDPIPERS have been seen this week on each of the non-hunting days. On Sunday, three were on the east end of Gull Island and visible from the mainland, on Tuesday, one was at the west end of Gull Island, and today there were four on Sebastopol Island, identifiable with a spotting scope from Gull Island. The largest concentration of BONAPARTE'S GULLS of the fall (about 200 earlier in the week) has been off Owen Point and on the adjacent portion of Gull Island. That is also the area where the first SNOWY OWL of the season is likely to show up, and that could happen at any time now. The only other owls seen this week were BARRED OWLS, of which there were a couple of sightings.
A BELTED KINGFISHER was present on November 23, and a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER on November 21. Twice this week, a juvenile NORTHERN SHRIKE was at Owen Point. COMMON RAVENS continue to be seen regularly. A HORNED LARK was on Gull Island on November 21. The CAROLINA WREN that has been commuting between 186 and 191 Bayshore Road for over a month continues to appear from time to time,but stays well hidden most of the time. There was still a rather late AMERICAN PIPIT on Gull Island today. A late FOX SPARROW on November 19 has not been seen since. Ten LAPLAND LONGSPURS and 150 SNOW BUNTINGS on Gull Island on November 21 were the largest numbers of the season. Two BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS at 81 Bayshore Road may be visiting nearby feeders. The most plentiful finches of the week were PINE SISKINS, about 80 on November 21.
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 ankle-deep water (deeper when there are waves, which can come up quickly) 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 given priority on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Gull Island, High Bluff Island, Owen Point, 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.