Highlights: BRANT, CANVASBACK, HARLEQUIN DUCK, SANDHILL CRANE, EASTERN PHOEBE, CAROLINA WREN, BROWN THRASHER, FIELD SPARROW, NASHVILLE WARBLER, WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL, EVENING GROSBEAK,
By weeks’ end the cold weather gave Presqu’ile a wintery feel and look. The marsh and still water have frozen up, and a skim of ice was around Gull Island. In spite of this some lingering migrants were seen along with the expected species.
A good selection of waterfowl is about and can mostly be found in Presqu’ile Bay, and around the Islands. The puddle ducks that had been in the marsh have relocated to the shallow waters around the Islands until the marsh opens again. Some of the less common species this week included a BRANT around Gull Is. and a flock of 26 TUNDRA SWAN flying over the gate, both on 13 Nov. A CANVASBACK was seen on 14 Nov – this species was once a regular fall migrant but has become quite rare in fall over the past two decades. Large numbers of REDHEAD moved in this week with a high count of 4500 on 12 Nov. An immature male HARLEQUIN DUCK was seen on 11 Nov in the channel between Gull and High Bluff Is. and should be looked for. Small numbers of BLACK SCOTERS have been seen all week around the Lighthouse and Gull Is.
WILD TURKEYS continue to boom with a new high count of 26 seen at Calf Pasture on 15 Nov. A COMMON LOON and a DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT were reported on 14 Nov. A GREAT BLUE HERON was seen daily along the causeway until freeze-up, and it or another was seen at Salt Pt. flying across the Bay on 15 Nov. An immature BALD EAGLE was flying over the gate on 10 Nov. Five SANDHILL CRANES flew over on 15 Nov. Shorebirds are dwindling but a few hardy species persist including a BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER on 11 Nov and 13 Nov; a handful of DUNLIN through the week; a SANDERLING on 15 Nov, a PECTORAL SANDPIPER on 11, 13 and 15 Nov and a GREATER YELLOWLEGS on 10 and 14 Nov.
No unusual gulls were reported but GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS increased to a peak of 25 on 11 Nov. Three species of owls were seen this week. At least one SNOWY OWL was staked out on the islands through the week. Several birders saw BARRED OWLS this week in the traditional areas around Jobes and Newcastle woods. A GREAT HORNED OWL was flushed from the Park Store area on 11 Nov. A BELTED KINGFSIHER seen on 12 Nov is getting late. MERLINS were seen several times during the week, especially around Gull Is. An injured EASTERN PHOEBE seen on 11 Nov is likely doomed. The long-staying CAROLINA WREN continues to be found regularly near the Lighthouse. A surprising number of RUBY-CROWNED KINGETS were seen this week including 6 on 13 Nov and singles through the week with the last being one on 15 Nov.
The BROWEN THRASHER coming to a Bayshore Rd. feeder continued through the week and will hopefully stay for the CBC on 16 Dec. A CEDAR WAXWING on 14 Nov was the first of that species reported in a while. Small numbers of SNOW BUNTINGS were seen around Owen Pt. and Gull Is. through the week. Warblers have pretty much fled for warmer climes but at least 3 YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS were seen on 13 Nov and one on 15 Nov. More surprising was a late NASHVILLE WARBLER on 13 Nov in the goldenrods behind The Birdhouse Nature Store, just outside the gate.
A FIELD and FOX SPARROW were one-day wonders at a Bayshore Rd. feeder on 12 Nov. A few WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS were seen early in the period with last reports being 3 on 12 Nov and one on 13 Nov. Small numbers of RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD and COMMON GRACKLE were seen at feeders through the week. Winter finches round out the list with two WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS – the first this winter - seen flying over the High Bluff campground on 15 Nov. PINE SISKINS, which have been abundant for many weeks, declined greatly through the week with only a handful left at feeders. PURPLE and HOUSE FINCHES were seen in small numbers through the week, mostly at feeders. The flight of EVENING GROSBEAKS continues with several sightings: 9 on 12 Nov and 3 on 13 Nov.
The Presqu’ile Christmas Bird Count will be held on Sunday, 16 December. If anyone would like to take part, please contact me privately.
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).