The most productive birding of the past week at Presqu'ile Provincial Park has been in the waters of Presqu'ile Bay, which are free of ice to a degree that is not normally seen until late February.
Almost every day in the past week, including today, a bird that has been tentatively identified as a GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE has been in the vicinity of Salt Point. The MUTE SWAN population has ballooned to about 800 birds, far more than would be healthy even for a native species, which the MUTE SWAN is not, unlike the TRUMPETER and TUNDRA SWANS which are also present but in numbers of less than a dozen of each. About twenty GADWALLS hug the shores of High Bluff Island, and a NORTHERN PINTAIL was also nearby. CANVASBACKS continue to be seen daily, but, unlike the REDHEADS, which have been increasing daily (to several thousand), there have been only one or two on most days. The first of two RING-NECKED DUCKS appeared on January 5. The vast majority of the thousands of scaup have been identified as GREATER SCAUP. WHITE-WINGED SCOTER numbers are greater than they have been for many winters, – about 90 today. Not a day has gone by this year without a sighting of the male BARROW'S GOLDENEYE off the lighthouse. Considering the amount of open water in Presqu'ile Bay and the unusually large numbers of ducks there for this date, one might expect a HOODED MERGANSER to be found soon. The best vantage point depends on the location of the ice margin, currently off the government dock, but varying with wind direction and temperature. A COMMON LOON was there on three different days in the past week, most recently yesterday. Probably attracted by the prospect of finding an injured duck among the thousands in Presqu'ile Bay, at least three BALD EAGLES, two adults and an immature, have been seen there regularly, on two occasions sitting shoulder to shoulder on an ice floe. NORTHERN HARRIERS and ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS have been seen around the offshore islands. AMERICAN COOTS have been over-wintering in unusually large numbers among the ducks in Presqu'ile Bay. A BONAPARTE'S GULL on January 6 was on one of the latest recorded dates for that species before its departure for winter. Other interesting gulls were two each of ICELAND and GLAUCOUS GULLS.
On January 6 and 7, a SNOWY OWL was found on the offshore islands. The biggest surprise of the past week was a LONG-EARED OWL that sat on a railing of a deck outside the kitchen window of a house on Bayshore Road. It remained long enough to be photographed there and as it flew away. Two different RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS were seen today, both discovered by their vocalizations. PILEATED WOODPECKERS, common enough in the Park, have also been noisy. A HORNED LARK was on Gull Island on January 5. For the third time in the past month, a HERMIT THRUSH was seen on Paxton Drive, just east of Atkins Lane. Further along Paxton Drive, a small flock of AMERICAN ROBINS has been seen on four of the past seven days. A flock of about 60 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS was on Bayshore Road on Tuesday and Thursday of this week. SNOW BUNTINGS continue to be seen on Gull Island. One of the regular sites for wintering WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS this year is at the intersection of Bayshore Road and Langton Avenue, where a feeder is semi-concealed among the cedars. Up to ten PINE GROSBEAKS move around in the area to the west of the calf pasture. A HOARY REDPOLL has been a frequent patron of the feeders at 186 Bayshore Road all week. An EVENING GROSBEAK, the first since early November, was heard overhead on Sunday.
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.