Continuing mild weather at Presqu'ile Provincial Park has made for pleasant birding conditions and has opened up much of Presqu'ile Bay and even a patch of open water in the marsh. Waterfowl, including a couple of surprises, have descended en masse in the bay, much earlier than usual, and even a chipmunk appeared over a week ago. Even in the "dead of winter" one can expect the unexpected, such as the group of Ross's Geese that arrived just across the bay from Presqu'ile on February 1 last year.
To my knowledge, the only swan seen this week other than the ever-present MUTE SWANS was one this afternoon that could have been either a TRUMPETER SWAN or a TUNDRA SWAN, two species that are superficially very similar. CANVASBACKS continue to trickle in, with eight seen on Sunday and over a dozen this morning. Estimates of REDHEAD numbers vary widely but are all in the thousands, creating a spectacular sight both in the water and when flushed into flight by a predator. Two male RING-NECKED DUCKS were present on Sunday. A female KING EIDER off 186 Bayshore Road on Tuesday could not be relocated, but a female BLACK SCOTER found with REDHEADS on Saturday at the calf pasture lookout was off the government dock this afternoon. Up to five WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS can usually be seen between Salt Point and the lighthouse.
The WILD TURKEYS in the calf pasture were seen at least twice this week. Gulls have begun to congregate off the shore of the islands, including 17 RING-BILLED GULLS apparently scouting the area for their forthcoming nesting season. At least two ICELAND GULLS and four GLAUCOUS GULLS have been among the hundreds of HERRING GULLS that spend each day on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay, and one of the former was at Gull Island.
Several hawk sightings were of interest: BALD EAGLES almost daily (six this afternoon); a NORTHERN HARRIER noisily dive-bombing a NORTHERN GOSHAWK yesterday; a COOPER'S HAWK in the vicinity of the feeders at 83 Bayshore Road; a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK on High Bluff Island. Both SNOWY OWL and BARRED OWL were seen at their traditional locations.
A group of 170 AMERICAN ROBINS yesterday was larger than any other seen in the Park this winter. Two PINE SISKINS paid a brief visit to the feeders at 186 Bayshore Road on Tuesday. SNOW BUNTINGS continue to be seen on Gull Island. A WHITE-THROATED SPARROW was photographed at the feeder near the campground office and another was seen far from any feeder at the calf pasture.
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 (a few metres of ankle-deep water separate it from Owen Point) may encounter drifts of snow obscuring water below.
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.