Well over 50 species of birds have been seen in Presqu'ile Provincial Park in the first three days of the new year, with only a handful of birders accounting for those.
One of the highlights was a GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE that spent the day between Salt Point and the lighthouse on December 31. Active waterfowl hunting on January 1 in the area where it was last seen may explain why it has not been seen since. Close to 500 MUTE SWANS and a few each of TRUMPETER SWANS (up to 6) and TUNDRA SWANS (up to 10) have been in Presqu'ile Bay before it froze over completely last night. A few of the latter were near the lighthouse this afternoon. Two NORTHERN PINTAILS were off Gull Island on January 1. The first CANVASBACKS of the season showed up on December 28 and a few have been seen on subsequent days, including two near the lighthouse this afternoon. Large numbers of REDHEADS are present there. Up to 40 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS have also been in Presqu'ile Bay. A male BARROW'S GOLDENEYE has been near the lighthouse for the past 12 days. A loon that was tentatively identified as a COMMON LOON was spotted briefly in Presqu'ile Bay on January 1 before it dove and could not be found again.
At least two BALD EAGLES have been seen regularly this week, an adult and an immature. Other hawks were a NORTHERN HARRIER at Gull Island and another NORTHERN HARRIER and a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, apparently in migration mode as they hurried westward together across the middle of Presqu'ile Bay on December 30, as well as a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK and a male NORTHERN GOSHAWK on Bayshore Road.
Two AMERICAN COOTS have been consorting with a mixed flock of GREATER SCAUP and REDHEADS in Presqu'ile Bay for much of the past week. Not surprisingly, shorebirds have almost all left, but on December 28 a birder on Gull Island spoke to someone who had seen two "sandpipers” that were not identified as to species, and an anonymous report of a DUNLIN on January 1 would be nearly an all-time late date. Single ICELAND GULLS in two different plumages were on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay this week.
The latest SNOWY OWL sighting was of one on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay yesterday. A BARRED OWL was seen and photographed on Paxton Drive. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS were in the vicinity of Langton Avenue on two consecutive days. PILEATED WOODPECKERS are not vocal these days and are therefore difficult to find, but one was posing cooperatively along Paxton Drive. Yesterday morning a PEREGRINE FALCON appeared twice within an hour off Salt Point, on one visit sitting close to an adult BALD EAGLE. NORTHERN SHRIKES are normally regular in the Park in winter, but since November have been seen only on the Christmas Bird Count. A COMMON RAVEN was first heard and then seen yesterday.
A reported sighting of a HORNED LARK on January 1 without details of its location was likely on Gull Island. A HERMIT THRUSH on December 28 was in exactly the same location as one that was seen on December 11. Since mid-December, the only AMERICAN ROBIN seen was a single bird on January 2, normally a fairly common wintering bird in the Park. BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS, having cleaned out most of their favourite berries, have largely disappeared in the past fortnight, but a flock of ten was near the bird sightings board on January 1. A big surprise on January 2 was a FIELD SPARROW that fed for a few minutes on a patch of grass that had been swept clear of snow by the wind. A WHITE-THROATED SPARROW is a daily visitor to the feeders at 186 Bayshore Road. Flocks of SNOW BUNTINGS are regularly being seen. The winter finch population continues to be of interest. A flock of eight PINE GROSBEAKS keeps appearing from time to time between Lilac Lane and Paxton Drive. A single WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL stopped briefly near the Park entrance. COMMON REDPOLLS are ubiquitous, and at least one HOARY REDPOLL has been among those patronizing the feeders at 186 Bayshore Road.
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” can walk across the gap without special footwear. Ice conditions may make for slippery walking. 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.