Most of the birds seen at Presqu'ile Provincial Park in the past week are species that one might expect in winter, but as usual a few that have normally migrated further south have also appeared.
Whereas in previous years MUTE SWANS are in Presqu'ile Bay by the hundreds, recently there have been only a dozen or so even when there is plenty of open water. REDHEADS have been coming and going according to the ice conditions, with over 100 on some days and none on other days. Last year a few CANVASBACKS wintered at Presqu'ile but the first significant increase in their numbers occurred on January 27 after three days of mild weather. Perhaps a few will arrive this weekend. A few (up to half a dozen) WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS can usually be found between Salt Point and the lighthouse. Seven COMMON MERGANSERS were off the government dock on Sunday. Not unexpectedly, many of the relatively uncommon birds that have kept showing up in recent weeks have also been sighted this week. They include WILD TURKEYS, BALD EAGLES (up to six at once), SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, COOPER'S HAWK, SNOWY OWLS (at least three on the offshore islands and one near Salt Point), RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS, PILEATED WOODPECKERS (three in one day), NORTHERN SHRIKE (at the calf pasture), BROWN CREEPERS, and COMMON RAVENS (up to four in one day). There was a report of a NORTHERN FLICKER, which is not a common bird in the Park in winter. A lone HORNED LARK was again seen on Gull Island on Friday, this time in the company of the usual flock of SNOW BUNTINGS. Singles of the long-awaited PINE SISKINS have finally arrived. The feeders at 83 Bayshore Road have attracted a few welcome over-wintering birds in the past few days: SONG SPARROW, WHITE-THROATED SPARROW, RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD.
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 aware that the ice between Owen Point and the island may or may not support the weight of a human. They may also encounter a slippery coating of ice on the rocks. Ice cleats are recommended. 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.