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Birding Report 22 February 2018

In sharp contrast to last week, there is plenty to write about as spring birds have arrived at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, which is THE place to be to see hordes of waterfowl.

The best place to view ducks is from the government dock or the calf pasture, where thousands of them have newly arrived in the past few days.  Among them were two GADWALLS today, the first of the year except for a possible GADWALL/MALLARD hybrid seen flying past
Gull Island on Monday.  Yesterday about 35 AMERICAN WIGEONS were riding an ice floe as it drifted past the lighthouse.  Some of them remained in the water long after the ice had moved out of sight.  Two others were at the government dock yesterday and at least five were in that part of Presqu'ile Bay this afternoon.  Over a dozen MALLARDS could also be seen from there yesterday, the first of the year in the Park.  Normally NORTHERN PINTAILS also arrive among the first dabbling ducks, but none has been spotted yet.  Two small ducks among the MALLARDS yesterday may have been GREEN-WINGED TEAL, but the distance was too great for a confirmed identification.  Allthough these dabbling ducks were of interest, they are vastly outnumbered by diving ducks.  A dozen or two of CANVASBACKS are among the thousands of REDHEADS and GREATER SCAUP in Presqu'ile Bay, and a dozen RING-NECKED DUCKS were also there yesterday, only one of which could be found today.  WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS continue to be found on most days, with eight seen on Monday.  The first HOODED MERGANSER of the season, a female, was near the lighthouse yesterday.

Five WILD TURKEYS were near the calf pasture today.  The 800 RING-BILLED GULLS at Gull Island on Monday represent the highest total yet this year at this breeding site.  Single BALD EAGLES have been seen on four of the last seven days.  A COOPER'S HAWK and a BARRED OWL were seen this morning.  Single SNOWY OWLS were in a tree on High Bluff Island and on a dock beside the water at 178 Bayshore Road.  A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER was at 83 Bayshore Road yesterday, and a very early NORTHERN FLICKER was at the calf pasture on Sunday, perhaps having over-wintered undetected despite frequent visits to the area by birders.  On Friday morning, several birders were able to watch a MERLIN patiently and unconcernedly consuming a MOURNING DOVE over a period of at least an hour on the lawn of 186 Bayshore Road, where people were regularly walking past.  A NORTHERN SHRIKE was in a backyard at the north end of the beach at the park boundary.  COMMON RAVENS continue to be seen.  The record early date for EASTERN BLUEBIRD in the Park was established on February 18, 1993.  On the same date in 2016 and again this year another of that species was recorded, the latter at the calf pasture, where it was seen again on the following day.  It can not be determinjed whether the AMERICAN ROBINS that were appearing all over the Park this week were among the birds that had spent the winter there or whether they were newly arrived migrants.  There were still 18 SNOW BUNTINGS on Gull Island on Monday.  Both SONG SPARROW and WHITE-THROATED SPARROW have been at 83 Bayshore Road, and RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS showed up there yesterday.  A COMMON GRACKLE on Monday was another early spring arrival.

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 aware that the ice between Owen Point and the island may or may not support the weight of a human.  They may also encounter a slippery coating of ice on the rocks.  Ice cleats are recommended. 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.