Presqu’ile is pretty much deserted these days. The picnic-ers, birders, photographers, and campers have virtually disappeared. I do see the occasional dog- walkers bundled up against the cold with their faithful friends at their sides. But really, Presqu’ile belongs to the owls now.
It’s amazing to see the difference one month can make. Winter is a wonderful time to visit. The peace and quiet has afforded me some terrific opportunities to sit tight and observe the Snowy Owl going about her business.
In the calm of the morning, with the golden light of the rising sun, Gull Island can be quite lovely. These days, the crossing to the island is barely ankle deep, and is covered in a thin coat of ice that gauges how much you had for breakfast that morning by how often you break through.
I love to watch her preen her feathers, since it allows me to see her feathery feet and long sharp talons.
This young female was keeping a close eye on her surroundings, and seemed to have her eye on the large rafts of Long-Tailed Ducks out on Lake Ontario.
Off she went, and took a long slow flight over the ducks in a big arc. I don’t think she caught one this time.
Driving out of the park, there was another owl sitting sleeping up in a dead tree! I have never seen a Snowy Owl anywhere near there before. They seem to be everywhere this year!
A large seasonal southerly movement of a large number of birds is called an “irruption.” I just learned yesterday that if the birds repeat this the following year, it is called an “echo.” From what I have read, this year is an “echo” year for Snowy Owls.
Time will tell whether the Snowy Owls populations ultimately benefit from this huge seasonal migration. One thing I do know is there is plenty for them to eat at Presqu’ile, with all the waterfowl that congregate there in the winter months, and the voles and mice that live in the park too.
I feel so fortunate that I can visit and watch these majestic birds of prey. Keep your eyes open- they are popping up everywhere in our area right now!