This has been a typical winter week for birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, with hardly any day-to-day or week-to-week changes. Every species seen in the past week, even the rare or semi-rare ones, has been seen this month at least twice before. The sad news of the week concerns Don Shanahan, who died on Tuesday after struggling with cancer for over a year. Don was a pillar of the Presqu'ile birding community, a leader of birding trips at home and abroad for the Ontario Field Ornithologists and Quest Nature Tours, a regular contributor to, and occasional author of, these weekly birding reports, a great birding companion, and a fine individual. He will be greatly missed.
With both Popham Bay and Presqu'ile Bay largely free of ice, there are thousands of ducks at Presqu'ile. The most noteworthy is the male BARROW'S GOLDENEYE that is around the lighthouse all the time. Its annoying habits of diving repeatedly for food and bouncing between one wave trough and the next make it a challenge to find, but persistence usually pays off. An immature BALD EAGLE has been around Presqu'ile Bay off and on all week. A female NORTHERN HARRIER was coursing over Gull Island this morning. On January 15, a PEREGRINE FALCON was around the outer part of Presqu'ile Bay, sitting on the ice and in the trees of Salt Point and at one point contesting possession of a LONG-TAILED DUCK with a BALD EAGLE. The only uncommon gull this week was an ICELAND GULL on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay. At least two attempts to find SNOWY OWLS at Owen Point were unsuccessful, but that part of the Park has had even less coverage from birders lately than the rest of Presqu'ile
There have been sightings of PILEATED AND RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS, CAROLINA WREN, and multiple AMERICAN ROBINS in the past week. The SAVANNAH SPARROW that has been seen infrequently for the past month was at 102 Bayshore Road on January 16, the latest date on record for that species at Presqu'ile. Apart from HOUSE FINCHES and AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES, no other finches have been seen this week, but WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS could appear this month.
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 knee-deep water in which there is often a swift current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven and slippery. Moreover, there can be a great deal of ice on the surrounding shore. 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.