Unusually mild weather notwithstanding, bird life at Presqu'ile Provincial Park has taken on a wintry aspect. Most species that are present now are ones that can also be found in mid-winter.
The two TRUMPETER SWANS that were in Popham Bay for almost three months were last sighted on November 3. Several dozen GADWALLS have gathered around the north shore of Gull Island. Well over 1,000 REDHEADS are rafting in Presqu'ile and Popham Bays. Female BLACK SCOTERS are being seen regularly in Popham Bay, with a count of twelve on Sunday. HORNED GREBES are now being seen only in single digits. Up to November 8, a BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER and a few DUNLINS were being seen, but none could be found today. Four WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS on November 6 were on the late side. An adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was on Chatterson Point on Tuesday, and an immature was on the Salt Point lighthouse on Saturday. A few COMMON LOONS have been swimming near the lighthouse. Two DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS were still lingering on Tuesday.
On Sunday a COOPER'S HAWK was seen catching a shorebird in flight. Two days later, one observer found single immature NORTHERN GOSHAWKS in two widely separated parts of the Park and assumed them to be different birds. A ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK was on High Bluff Island on Sunday. The only owl reported this week was a SNOWY OWL on Sebastopol Island this morning, two days later than the first arrival last year. A BELTED KINGFISHER at Salt Point on Saturday was the first in recent weeks. Ten years ago on November 12, both AMERICAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKER and BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER were found in "the fingers", a part of the Park that is under-birded and that warrants a search for these species. PILEATED WOODPECKERS were seen on two different days this week. A MERLIN and a few COMMON RAVENS were not unexpected sightings. On Sunday, eleven HORNED LARKS and two LAPLAND LONGSPURS were on Gull Island, and a HERMIT THRUSH was near Owen Point. A WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW at 83 Bayshore Road may turn out to be an over-wintering bird.
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 water that is ankle-deep, not taking into account any wave action,.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, Owen Point, Gull Island, High Bluff Island, 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.