Up until the last two or three days, there was a steady influx of migrant birds to Presqu'ile Provincial Park. With the high atmospheric pressure system that has dominated recently, the numbers of birds have stabilized, with very few new arrivals. Visiting birders are finding enough birds to make their trips worthwhile, but local birders, tired of seeing the same birds two or three days in a row, are anxiously awaiting a flood of new ones when the weather finally becomes less pleasant!
One of the big attractions this week, as it is every year at this time, is the concentration of Red-throated Loons in Popham Bay. They have been seen every day this week, in numbers ranging from 6 to 17. Presqu'ile is one of the few places in southern Ontario where birders new to the game can add that species to their life lists. However, they should plan to look for the loons only on days when the water is calm (as it has been for most of this week), as the birds usually stay annoyingly far from shore. The early morning fly-over of Common Loons that occurs in late April has not yet begun, although a few individuals can usually be found in the water in recent days. A Red-necked Grebe was in Presqu'ile Bay on April 8, and two others were out in Lake Ontario on the following day.
Two or three American Bitterns are already on territory in the marsh, and one was found alongside Paxton Drive on April 13. Great Egrets seem slow to return this year, but one was seen flying in from High Bluff Island on April 12. Three Black-crowned Night-Herons
were on Sebastopol Island on April 8, but have not been seen since.
On April 9, many flocks of Canada Geese passed over the Park, one of which contained a white-phased and a blue-phased Snow Goose. Two male Eurasian Wigeons were spotted in Presqu'ile Bay on April 8, and on the following day many people had close-up views of one. Along with many other ducks, that bird appears to have moved on.
On April 10, some noisy American Crows pointed out to a birder a Northern Goshawk, which subsequently flew right past him. A Merlin flew out over the lighthouse on April 9.
Virginia Rails were found in two different parts of the Park on April 10 and 11, both of which appear to be record early dates for Presqu'ile. The next member of that family to arrive will likely be a Common Moorhen. It is also worth keeping an eye open for Sandhill Cranes, which put in several appearances last spring. A Wilson's Snipe winnowing over the calf pasture on April 13 was in an unexpected location.
Dozens of Bonaparte's Gulls can now be seen off Owen Point and elsewhere. It is probably only a matter of days until someone finds a Little Gull among them. A Glaucous Gull was off Owen Point on April 10.
The Great Gray Owl that appeared sporadically along the causeway leading into the Park during the past few months was last reported on April 9.
Surprisingly, only three species of swallows have so far made it to Presqu'ile this year, the latest being a Northern Rough-winged Swallow on April 13. The others can not be far behind. The big mystery of the past week concerns a Tufted Titmouse. The one that was a regular presence throughout the winter at feeders near the lighthouse and farther up the peninsula disappeared after March 29. Then, quite unexpectedly, that bird or another of the same species put in an appearance of less than 24 hours in the same area on April 11 and 12. Those dates are consistent with the handful of previous records of transient titmice in the Park, all of which have been in that same area.
Among the recently arrived birds this week were an early Marsh Wren on April 12, several Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Hermit Thrushes, a record early Brown Thrasher that has been devouring the suet at 186 Bayshore Road since April 10, Yellow-rumped and Pine Warblers (first seen on April 8 and 10, respectively), an Eastern Towhee on April 9, and a few each of Chipping, Field, Swamp, and White-throated Sparrows. A Lapland Longspur that flew over on April 12 was the first of that species in the Park since last fall.
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.