Presqu'ile Birding Report for Week Ending January 23, 2003.

Fred Helleiner fhelleiner at
Thu Jan 23 20:29:55 EST 2003

Survival has been the highest priority for birds at Presqu'ile
Provincial Park during the past week.  For most of them, it has meant
hunkering down in whatever shelter they can find and coming out to feed
only when there is a slight amelioration in the extreme atmospheric
conditions that have prevailed.  As part of the Brighton winterfest
activities, there will be winter birding workshops (free slide show and
hiking) this Saturday and Sunday (January 25 and 26) from 1 p.m. to 4
p.m.  In all likelihood, weather conditions will have improved somewhat
by then and birds will once again be active enough to provide a bit of
entertainment for the birding public.

The waterfowl in Presqu'ile Bay hide in the lee of hunks of ice and bury
their heads in their dorsal feathers, while seeking out whatever patches
of open water remain, even if that means venturing out into the open
waters of Lake Ontario.  Most visible among them are the 200 or so Mute
Swans, among which was at least one Tundra Swan as recently as January
19.  American Black Ducks and Mallards, which numbered in the hundreds
at the beginning of the month, are down to a few dozen.  There was still
one female Redhead on January 18, but the most recent sightings of
Greater Scaup were on January 20.  The male White-winged Scoter that was
in the Salt Point area on January 19 (a day on which there was quite a
lot of open water) has not been seen since.  This somewhat gloomy report
describes what is almost certainly a temporary situation.  In the past,
large numbers of waterfowl have re-appeared from some unknown location
as soon as there was a break in extreme wintry conditions.

An immature Bald Eagle has been seen in three different locations on
Presqu'ile Point this week:  at the calf pasture on January 19; in a
tree at Salt Point on January 23; just east of the Nature Centre along
the lake shore also on January 23.  It could well be the same bird
moving around.

The flock of 300+ gulls that was roosting on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay
throughout most of this month has dispersed, and only a handful fly by
each day, mostly Herring Gulls with an occasional Great Black-backed

A Pileated Woodpecker was seen near the lighthouse on January 23.

A positive effect of the cold weather is that hand-feeding of
Black-capped Chickadees and Red-breasted Nuthatches has become
ridiculously easy.  One flock that seems to expect such treatment can be
found about 100 metres off Paxton Drive on a ski trail;  follow the road
about one kilometre from the lighthouse until three large boulders block
the entrance to a roadway on the left; continue for another 200 metres
past a semi-open area beyond which the road curves to the left and then
the right; at that point there is a stand of pines and spruces, where
the aforesaid ski trail, marked in orange, heads off into the woods at
an angle of about 30 degrees.

A Brown Creeper appears every few days on the ash tree in front of 186
Bayshore Road.  Golden-crowned Kinglets have suddenly become more
visible in the past four days, perhaps because some of them have been
foraging at or near ground level.  They have been seen on each of those
days in four different parts of the Park, indicating, if nothing else,
that some birders are dedicated enough to venture out regardless of the
weather.  A flock of 20 or so American Robins was discovered on January
23 in the pine plantation just east of the Paxton Drive/Atkins Lane

White-throated Sparrows and three Common Grackles are regular patrons of
feeders on Bayshore Road, and the flock of American Goldfinches at 186
Bayshore has grown to about 55 birds.

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.  The channel separating Gull Island
from the mainland has almost disappeared, making the island almost a
peninsula.  The channel is only a few metres wide and about 10-15
centimetres deep.  However, when the channel between the island and Owen
Point is frozen, as it has been recently, the ice may be unsafe to walk
on without breaking through.

Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be
directed to: FHELLEINER at TRENTU.CA.

Fred Helleiner

186 Bayshore Road,
R.R. #4,
Brighton, Ontario, Canada, K0K 1H0
VOICE: (613) 475 5309
If visiting, access via Presqu'ile Provincial Park.

Fred Helleiner <fhelleiner at>

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