With the exception of a few new, not unexpected, arrivals, the bird life at Presqu'ile Provincial Park has not changed much in the past week, but the number of waterfowl has increased noticeably as the ice continues to move out of Presqu'ile Bay.
Those who like the gaudy plumage of male WOOD DUCKS would have enjoyed the sight of a dozen or more (male and female) yesterday and today. AMERICAN WIGEONS have been present for four of the past seven days, raising hopes that a EURASIAN WIGEON might appear soon, as they have in late March/early April in four of the past seven years. An anonymous report of a BLUE-WINGED TEAL on March 22, while not a record early date, is surprising given the prevailing ice conditions. Two GREEN-WINGED TEAL, the first of the season, were at the calf pasture this afternoon. Thousands of REDHEADS and GREATER SCAUP can be seen from the viewing platform at the calf pasture, along with lesser numbers of fifteen other duck species. The male and female RUDDY DUCK off the government dock have been there for over a week, most recently this afternoon.
A RUFFED GROUSE was seen along Paxton Drive on March 20 and three others were flushed on Tuesday in a different part of the Park. A long-staying RED-THROATED LOON and two RED-NECKED GREBES were still off the government dock this morning. The first TURKEY VULTURE of the season flew over on March 24. Single adult and immature BALD EAGLES have been seen this week. A MERLIN was seen on two consecutive days, as was an AMERICAN WOODCOCK. On Monday, an ICELAND GULL put in an appearance.
A ROCK PIGEON near the lighthouse on Sunday was a surprise. This morning and this afternoon there was a SNOWY OWL (a real one this time) on the ice off the government dock. BARRED OWLS were seen twice this week. Perhaps the biggest surprise was a very early NORTHERN FLICKER on March 24. A NORTHERN SHRIKE at the calf pasture was seen on three different days. COMMON RAVENS have become almost a daily sighting. The WHITE-THROATED SPARROW that wintered at 83 and 85 Bayshore Road survived past the vernal equinox. Two EASTERN MEADOWLARKS, the first of the season, foraged on a lawn at 188 Bayshore Road in a snowstorm this afternoon. A PURPLE FINCH on Monday was also the first of the season, but the HOARY REDPOLLS at 83 and 186 Bayshore Road have been sporadically present for weeks. A HOUSE SPARROW on Monday was an unusual find for Presqu'ile.
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. Visitors to Gull Island not using a boat should be prepared to wade through water that is knee-deep, not taking into account any wave action, in which there is often a swift current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven and slippery. It should also be noted that, because duck hunting is on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Gull Island, High Bluff Island, and part of the calf pasture are not available for bird-watching on those days. Birders are encouraged to record their observations on the bird sightings board provided near the campground office by The Friends of Presqu'ile Park and to fill out a rare bird report for species not listed there.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA