HIGHLIGHTS: DUNLIN, GLAUCOUS GULL, RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET, EASTERN BLUEBIRD, BROWN THRASHER, CHIPPING SPARROW, WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW
It was another quiet week with limited coverage but a few unusual things were noted.
In spite of the marsh being frozen, large numbers of CANADA GEESE have been seen including 500 on the ice on 11 Dec. Small numbers of MALLARDS, AMERICAN BLACK DUCK and REDHEADS are still in the outer part of Presqu’ile Bay. A MOURNING DOVE coming to the Birdhouse Nature Store feeders, just outside the gate, on 9 Dec had significant pale fringes on the coverts indicating it had fledged fairly recently. The lingering DUNLIN was seen at Owen Pt on 9 Dec. At least two different Glaucous Gulls were seen on 11 and 12 Dec.
Raptors included a COOPER’S HAWK on 11 Dec, two BALD EAGLE on 9 Dec and at least one on 12 Dec, and a RED-TAILED HAWK on 9 Dec. BARRED OWLS have been more noticeable of late, likely due to an influx of “migrant” birds. For the second week no SNOWY OWLS were reported. A MERLIN was noted on 12 Dec. NORTHERN SHRIKES showed well with two on 11 Dec, and singles on 12 Dec and 13 Dec.
HORNED LARKS were heard flying over the gate area on 9 and 10 Dec. A RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET seen in the Fingers on 8 Dec is quite rare this late in fall. Two EASTERN BLUEBIRDS were seen just NW of the park along Huff Rd at the Railway tracks on 8 Dec. AMERICAN ROBINS were noticeable in the Calf Pasture all week with a maximum count of 45 on 12 Dec. The lingering BROWN THRASHER coming to a Bayshore Rd feeder has now made it to “Count Period” for the Christmas Count this Sunday.
Winter finches that were so prominent a month ago appear to have all but bailed from the Park leaving only small numbers of AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES reported this week. Interestingly a flock of 40 PINE SISKINS were still at a feeder in Brighton on 13 Dec. Three SNOW BUNTINGS were seen on 11 Dec – another species that is unusually scarce this winter.
A rare winter CHIPPING SPARROW was seen at the Birdhouse Nature Store feeders on 9-11 Dec and a WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW was a surprise at a Bayshore Rd feeder on 11-12 Dec. A lone male RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD is visiting the Birdhouse Nature Store feeders regularly as is a COMMON GRACKLE along Bayshore Rd near the lighthouse.
Note that fall waterfowl hunting in now occurring in the Park which means park users cannot go to Owen Pt., the islands, the marsh (boardwalk is open), or Calf Pasture Pt. on Saturdays, Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays even if no one is hunting on those days. This restriction will last until mid December so plan your trip accordingly.
Directions: Presqu’ile Provincial Park is located on the north shore of Lake Ontario, just south of the town of Brighton. It can be reached from either Hwy. 401, or Cty. Rd. 2 and is well signed. A Park map can be found in the information tabloid available at the Park gate. Presqu’ile’s two offshore islands – Gull and High Bluff – support a large multi-species colonial bird nesting area and access is not permitted during the breeding season (10 March-10 September).