Snow Buntings, Redpolls, and a Snowy Owl

Dec 22, 2012
Early Thursday morning under a blanket of thick grey clouds, I set off for Presqu’ile Provincial Park to see if I could find the Snow Buntings.

I got to the park at 8:00 o’clock and headed straight for Owen Point. The cloud cover was beginning to break up and there was now a modicum of light. The whitecaps that covered the lake were breaking onto the shore with some force and the icy wind made the prospect of walking over to Gull Island less than inviting. I had dressed for the occasion though and so I plodded on with cameras at the ready.

My first sighting of the day was the resident Snowy Owl sitting on a perch near the east-most point of the island – and even though I had anticipated seeing her, it is always a thrill whenever I encounter this magnificent bird.

Snowy Owl (taken on Gull Island: Dec 20, 2012)

** click on the photo for a closer look **

I stood and watched (and photographed) the owl for a while. Then I turned my head for just a moment to shoot some Mute Swans nearby, and when I looked back the great owl was gone.

I continued on to Gull Island where I did some exploring, but there was little to see. After 45 minutes or so I gave up and started to make my way back to the mainland. Suddenly a flock of small birds swarmed by and landed on some of the dead weeds that blanketed the island. The birds were moving like Snow Buntings, but that’s not what they were.

** click on the photo for a closer look **

** click on the photo for a closer look **

They were Common Redpolls! :) I quickly captured a few images before they were up in the air again swarming and landing 20 feet further east. I hurried to catch up and got a few more shots before they moved again. Eventually they flew out over the rocky shore and out of sight.

The Redpolls were just the tonic I needed to keep my mood positive as I made my way back to Owen Point. As I walked along I scanned the edge of the water hoping that I might see a Purple Sandpiper. That didn’t happen, but my vigilance did pay off because there on the windward side of the beach were three Snow Buntings that I might have otherwise easily missed – they blend in so well with their surroundings.

** click on the photo for a closer look **

** click on the photo for a closer look **

I captured a few still photos, and then I used my SX40 to take this short video of the three little beauties.

The only other bird of interest that I captured on Thursday was this American Robin.

** click on the photo for a closer look **

** click on the photo for a closer look **

This is not a great photo, and certainly it’s not a rare bird, but I wanted to include it here so that I could mention that Robins (often considered to be the first sign of Spring) often stay here all winter long. They don’t get a lot of worms in the winter, of course, but they adjust their diet to be one of berries and seeds. So don’t be surprised to see one of these birds long before Spring is in the air! :)


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2 Responses to Snow Buntings, Redpolls, and a Snowy Owl

  1. Jackie Hughes says:

    I see a few cardinals in our area! What do I do to attract them to my feeding pole I have for the chickadees & finches that I have alot of thanks to your advice.Really enjoy your site. We drove thru Presqu’ile looking for wildlife & also wondering do you think there are any deer left in the beautiful park.

    • Garry says:

      Cardinals like Safflower. I would recommend putting a Safflower feeder in your garden. Once the Cardinals find it, they will keep coming back for more.

      I’m not an expert on White-tailed Deer, but I’m fairly confident that there are still many in Presqu’ile. They just aren’t always easy to spot.

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