Presqu'ile Birding Report for Week Ending February 19, 2004.

Fred Helleiner fhelleiner at trentu.ca
Thu Feb 19 20:00:30 EST 2004


In most parts of Ontario, the time when winter birding becomes 
transformed into spring birding is some time in March, but at Presqu'ile 
Provincial Park that transformation occurs much earlier, with the 
arrival of ducks and other water birds.  Even before the end of 
February, almost 60 species of birds have been sighted at Presqu'ile 
since the beginning of the year, and several of those are returned migrants.

At present, the greatest concentration of waterfowl can be viewed from 
the government dock on Bayshore Road.  Among the many Mute Swans visible 
from that point, there was another swan on February 19 which appeared 
from a distance to be a Trumpeter Swan.  With the mild weather of the 
past 24 hours, a few dabbling ducks have re-appeared, including several 
Gadwalls and American Wigeons.  Canvasbacks, as many as four at a time, 
have been present since February 12.  In addition to the three or four 
White-winged Scoters that have been lingering in Presqu'ile Bay for the 
past few weeks, a surprising flock of 22 individuals flew westward past 
Gull Island on February 19.

One or two Bald Eagles can occasionally be seen harassing the ducks in 
the bay.  For over an hour on February 18, an adult was observed on a 
drifting ice floe as it tore apart and consumed what was presumably a 
duck.Another adult was perched on High Bluff Island the next morning.  
Both Rough-legged and Red-tailed Hawks and a Northern Harrier were seen 
in the Park on February 19.

There has been a build-up in the past few days of gulls, including 
several hundred Ring-billed Gulls in the vicinity of Gull Island, 
presumably waiting for the first bare patches of ground to be revealed.  
A Glaucous Gull was also there on February 19.  Lest anyone question 
whether a February birding trip to Presqu'ile is worthwhile, bear in 
mind that, three years ago, an American Woodcock arrived at the 
lighthouse on February 26.

While the number and variety of water birds are significantly different 
from what they were a week ago at Presqu'ile, the land birds are much 
the same as they have been all winter, though aspects of their behaviour 
indicate the imminence of spring. A large owl was flushed in the woods 
alongside Lighthouse Lane, most likely a Barred Owl, but its identity 
could not be confirmed.

A Northern Flicker seen near the government dock was the second of that 
species seen at Presqu'ile recently.  Pileated Woodpeckers are being 
discovered more frequently these days, perhaps because they are more 
vocal than before.  For the second time in as many weeks, Golden-crowned 
Kinglets were in the spruces next to the government dock on February 
19.  American Robins are flying around the Park, sometimes high above 
the trees in which they have been sheltering all winter.  On a very cold 
but bright morning last weekend, a Northern Cardinal was singing as if 
it were spring.  The seven Red-winged Blackbirds and the Common Grackle 
that have been seen periodically throughout the winter near Langdon 
Avenue have re-appeared after an absence of over two weeks and are 
becoming more vocal.  As yet, the two Song Sparrows wintering at 186 
Bayshore Road have not been heard attempting to sing.

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.  Although the channel separating 
Gull Island from Owen Point appears to be frozen over, the thickness of 
the ice is probably unreliable because of the underlying currents.

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 trentu.ca>

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