Presqu'ile Birding Report for Week Ending January 8, 2004

Don Shanahan vic.hide at
Thu Jan 8 15:24:52 EST 2004

After apparently appraising the calendar with a finer eye, winter has
abandoned its recent gentle moderation and has asserted itself with a vigour
that many consider over zealous. As a result, Presqu'ile Bay is rapidly
icing over and last week's bonanza of 'spring' Aythya ducks has largely
vanished. However, good numbers of these ducks usually return throughout
January and February if warmer weather opens up the ice in Presqu'ile Bay.
Inland, with conditions suddenly much harsher, birds are gradually
rediscovering feeders.

Good numbers of American Black Ducks were seen on and about Gull Island
early in the week but diminished markedly as it got colder. By late week,
dabbler groups were small and consisted almost evenly of Blacks and
Mallards. A flock seen off Gull Island on January 6 was accompanied by two
American Wigeon. By January 7, only a handful of Redheads and Greater Scaup
could be found near the Salt Point Lighthouse. A flock of approximately 700
Greater Scaup seen south of Gull Island on January 2 may have been leaving
the area.

Long-tailed Ducks, now in prime winter plumage, continued to be the most
numerous duck about Presqu'ile. An impressive flock of several thousand flew
north of Sebastopol Island on January 6. Common Goldeneyes and Buffleheads
could also be found throughout the park's waters, albeit in much smaller
numbers. Small flocks of male Common Mergansers could be seen flying about
Gull Island throughout the week and three females were seen by the
Government Docks on January 7.

Large numbers of gulls regularly commute from the Presqu'ile Peninsula and
area northwards towards the Brighton landfill area (unfortunately this
facility is closed to birders). As occasionally Glaucous and Iceland Gulls
can be seen in these flocks, a keen birder, on a survivable day, could do
well by scanning flocks of gulls loafing on the ice now prominent in
Presqu'ile Bay.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker continues to frequent a feeder at a residence west
of Presqu'ile on Lakeshore Road. On January 5, this feeder also featured
Red-winged Blackbirds and a single Song Sparrow.

American Tree Sparrows can still be found in thickets about Presqu'ile but
are reluctant to show themselves during prolonged windy periods.
Surprisingly, no Snow Buntings were reported during the past week.

A hearty flock of about 30 Common Redpolls continued to forage about Gull
Island. January 2 produced one Hoary Redpoll among the Commons and January 6
found a Northern Shrike skulking around the redpoll flock.

To reach Presqu'ile Provincial Park, follow the signs from Brighton. Park
locations are shown on a map at the back of a tabloid available at the Park
gate. The waters to Gull Island now require chest waders and continue to
offer strong currents, large waves and a shifting substrate.

Don Shanahan

"Don Shanahan" <vic.hide at>

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