POSTED | January 29, 2015 - Fred Helleiner
Birders visiting Presqu'ile Provincial Park this week are finding very few birds except in the remaining patches of open water in Presqu'ile Bay and at the various bird feeders in the Park and along Bayshore Road.
Only one TRUMPETER SWAN could be found this week, largely because most of the hundreds of swans have their heads tucked under their wings while hunkered down on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay (or perhaps because there was only one!). The female CANVASBACK mentioned in last week's report was still present on Friday and Saturday, and the male RING-NECKED DUCK was there from Friday to Sunday. A group of 18-20 REDHEADS was there on the weekend, the first since early January. The first two WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS in a fortnight were off the government dock today. For the second consecutive week, a RUFFED GROUSE was seen, and this morning five WILD TURKEYS showed up. In a few recent years, when waters elsewhere in the Great Lakes region have frozen over, as seems likely to happen with the persistent cold weather this winter, RED-NECKED GREBES have found their way to open water in late January or February. No one has reported any at Presqu'ile yet, but that may happen again, as it did on January 30 last year. A few BALD EAGLES, as many as three on one day, have been present throughout the past week. The wintering RED-SHOULDERED HAWK mentioned in last week's report has not apparently entered the Park, but on Tuesday could be seen from the Park gates in a tree behind "The Gates" art gallery. On January 23, four gull species were on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay before being flushed by a BALD EAGLE: one RING-BILLED GULL, a few dozen HERRING GULLS, an adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, and an immature GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL. There were single sightings of SNOWY OWL and BARRED OWL in the past week.
A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER seen a few days ago was the only one this winter, in striking contrast to the past two winters. A PILEATED WOODPECKER was near the campground office on Monday. A NORTHERN SHRIKE was present on Saturday. A COMMON RAVEN was heard on Monday. A flock of CEDAR WAXWINGS, the only ones this month, was seen yesterday. The PINE WARBLER that has been a regular at the bird feeder near the campground office was seen every day this week, usually rewarding birders by appearing with some frequency. Two WHITE-THROATED and one WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW continue to patronize the feeders at 85 Bayshore Road. The flock of COMMON GRACKLES that had been there in the first few days of January had apparently disappeared until Tuesday, when two of them re-appeared. While the specific identity of a lone redpoll that spent a few days earlier this month at 186 Bayshore Road was never established to everyone's satisfaction, an unambiguous HOARY REDPOLL appeared there with a flock of COMMON REDPOLLS on January 23. The first PINE SISKIN since late December was at the Park office bird feeder on January 26.
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 prepared to wade through water that is knee-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. 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