Highlights this week include the reappearance of the male HARLEQUIN DUCK near the Lighthouse on 11 and 12 Apr, up to four RED-THROATED LOONS in Popham Bay on the 12th, and a lingering SNOWY OWL on the Salt Pt. lighthouse on 9 Apr.
The big story this week is the very delayed state of spring migration. There were a few breaks from the dominant northerly winds this week that allowed a trickle of migrants to push in, but it remains unseasonably slow with generally small numbers of new arrivals and many expected species still not reported. Even frogs have been slow to appear with Spring Peeper, Chorus and Wood Frogs being heard for the first time only on 11 Apr. As soon as we get a substantial southerly air flow the migration flood gates should open.
Waterfowl are scattered but still present in good numbers in Presqu’ile Bay. SCAUP (mostly GREATER) and REDHEAD dominate with several thousand of each present but most expected species are present. 30 GADWALL and 20 AMERICAN WIGEON could be seen with the mixed AYTHYA flocks off the Fingers (as seen from Harbour St. just outside the Park) on 8 Apr, and 65 CANVASBACK and 13 WHITE-WINGED SCOTER were seen in the Bay the following day. The highlight was the reappearance of the male HARLEQUIN DUCK off the Lighthouse on 11 Apr and again on 12 Apr. after having been “missing” for over a week.
RUFFED GROUSE are now drumming regularly and can be heard in most wooded areas and WILD TURKEYS were also noted several times around the Calf Pasture field. Another highlight was the discovery of four RED-THROATED LOONS in Popham Bay off Beach 1 on 12 Apr, followed by a RED-NECKED GREBE there later the same day. PIED-BILLED and HORNED GREBES were seen throughout the week in the marsh and Presqu’ile Bay respectively.
The first and only AMERICAN BITTERN was noted on 11 Apr. OSPREYS returned to their nest platform at Salt Pt. this week and a COOPERS HAWK was seen displaying. The first two WILSON’S SNIPE were winnowing over the Main Rd. at Beach 1 on the 12th, joining AMERICAN WOODCOCK AND KILLDEER as the only shorebirds back so far. The first CASPIAN TERN was seen on 12 Apr on the beach.
A late SNOWY OWL spent the day on the Salt Pt. lighthouse on 9 Apr, and BARRED OWLS were reported several times from Newcastle Woods and Jobes Woods. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER is being found in Newcastle and Jobes Woods with regularity, although NORTHERN FLICKER, which should be common by now, remains scarce with just a few reports. Several pairs of MERLIN have been noted displaying and copulating. The first EASTERN PHOEBE was reported on 5 Apr and only one more has been seen since on 10 Apr – another species that should be common by now. Similarly TREE SWALLOW is still scarce with the high so far being only 12 on 9 Apr.
WINTER WRENS are becoming more frequent and one was seen gathering moss at Jobes Woods on 11 Apr. The only BROWN THRASHER so far was seen just outside the Park on 10 Apr. Even expected sparrows are scarce or absent with the only new migrants this week being two SAVANNAH SPARROWS on 12 Apr. A few EASTERN MEADOWLARKS have been seen around the Calf Pasture fields this week. Finally a PURPLE FINCH was singing at Jobes Woods on 10 Apr.
Presqu’ile Provincial Park is located on the north shore of Lake Ontario, just south of the town of Brighton. It can be reached from either Hwy. 401 or Cty. Rd. 2 and is well signed. A Park map can be found in the information tabloid available at the Park gate. Presqu’ile’s two offshore islands – Gull and High Bluff – support a large multi-species colonial bird nesting area and access is not permitted during the breeding season.