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Birding Report At Presqu'ile Provincial Park, as is the case throughout southern Ontario, the date of arrival of early spring migrant birds is highly variable from year to year and is largely dependent on weather conditions. This year, at least up until the vernal equinox, the arrival of most species has been delayed by a few days. Despite that, about two dozen species have already returned to the Park. Within the next week, another dozen can be expected.
All three species of swans were present on March 20, including three Trumpeter Swans dueling with a Mute Swan beside the causeway leading into the Park (where a pair consisting of those two species apparently nested last year). The largest group of Tundra Swans this week, also on March 20, was a flock of eight in Presqu'ile Bay. Wood Ducks were seen on three consecutive days, Northern Pintails on five of the last seven days, and Green-winged Teal (a pair) on March 16. Among the dabbling ducks that have yet to return are Eurasian Wigeon, which appear almost annually at this time of year, Blue-winged Teal, and Northern Shoveler. Two Ruddy Ducks were around Salt Point on March 15 and 16.
The first Horned Grebe appeared on March 15, the first Pied-billed Grebe on March 17, and the first Red-necked Grebe on March 18, all three seen from the government dock. The first Great Blue Heron of the season flew over on March 14 and the first Turkey Vulture on March 17.
Raptors have created a good deal of excitement at Presqu'ile this week. Bald Eagles, an adult and an immature, gave good views to visitors in the Park for the waterfowl festival. One of them disappointed a number of birders who had just watched a large falcon catch a duck, by chasing the falcon off its prey before the captor could be conclusively identified. What was presumably the same falcon did a brief fly-by later in the day, again eluding positive identification. The consensus was that it was likely a Gyrfalcon. Other raptors seen in the past week were Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Northern Goshawk, Merlin, and Barred Owl, a respectable list for a park not noted for raptor migration.
Three American Coots were in Presqu'ile Bay on March 16 and one was still there three days later. Five Killdeer on March 18 were the first of the year at Presqu'ile. The first American Woodcock of the year should appear any day now. An Iceland Gull flew past Gull Island on March 20.
A Belted Kingfisher flew past the lighthouse on March 15. On the following day one observer heard a Red-bellied Woodpecker near the government dock, but no one has been able to locate it since then. A Northern Shrike, the first since mid-January, flew across Presqu'ile Bay on March 18. A Carolina Wren was singing near the government dock on several recent mornings. Both Brown Creeper and Golden-crowned Kinglet have been seen in the past week, as have both Bohemian Waxwings and Cedar Waxwings in separate flocks. A Song Sparrow and a White-throated Sparrow seem to have survived the winter at feeders on Bayshore Road. Pine Grosbeaks were found on two different days. Hoary Redpolls are daily visitors to the feeders at 186 Bayshore Road, as many as three at one time.
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. Access to the offshore islands is restricted at this time of year to prevent disturbance to the colonial nesting birds there.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.