There is keen anticipation at Presqu'ile Provincial Park as the first of the two Waterfowl Festival weekends approaches. Ice and water conditions appear favourable, thousands of ducks are already present, and the weather forecast is promising, though visitors should be aware that, even on days that are balmy inland, spring temperatures are always much cooler at Presqu'ile.
It is virtually guaranteed that viewers will be able to see Canada Geese and Mute Swans, but there have been no Tundra Swans reported for the past three days. The possibility exists, albeit somewhat remote, that a Snow Goose will appear within the next week or two. Gadwalls are present in small numbers off the government dock and the calf pasture, and an American Wigeon was in that area on March 8. Northern Pintails and Green-winged Teal are also likely to be found in that area soon. The overwhelming numbers of ducks in Presqu'ile Bay are Canvasbacks, Redheads, and Greater Scaup, collectively numbering well into the thousands. A Ring-necked Duck was with them on March 7, and it is not unlikely that a Lesser Scaup may also be present, though identifying that species is nearly impossible. Two White-winged Scoters are often visible near the lighthouse that sits on an island in Presqu'ile Bay near Salt Point. In the more open waters of Lake Ontario, the main species are Long-tailed Ducks, Buffleheads, Common Goldeneyes, and more Greater Scaup, with a sprinkling of Red-breasted Mergansers. The first male Hooded Merganser of the year was with a female of that species at the calf pasture on March 7. The first American Coots should be arriving within the next week.
An adult Bald Eagle flew in and rested on the ice off the calf pasture on March 8. An adult Northern Goshawk perched in a tree at 186 Bayshore Road on March 7. One hopes that it may decide to nest in the Park, as a pair did a few years ago. A Ruffed Grouse that ran off into the woods along Paxton Drive would make a good meal for it. Among the thousands of Ring-billed Gulls and Herring Gulls swarming around Gull Island and resting on the ice nearby there was an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull on March 4, a species that is seldom seen at Presqu'ile.
A Northern Flicker that flew across Bayshore Road On March 4 was probably the same bird that was in that area in January. Two Common Ravens flew over the bird sightings board on March 7, loudly proclaiming that their presence should be duly recorded. A flock of about a dozen American Robins, together with some Cedar Waxwings, has been spending time around the crabapple and juniper trees near the calf pasture, and feeding on the lawns when a bit of thawing takes place. The two Song Sparrows that have frequented Owen Point off and on all winter appear to have made it through successfully, as have the two Common Grackles at feeders on Bayshore Road (between Langton Avenue and 116 Bayshore). After hosting the same five common species day after day all winter, with occasional visits from Pine Siskins and American Goldfinches, the feeders at 186 Bayshore Road were enlivened on March 4 by the sudden appearance of a male House Sparrow (rare at Presqu'ile) and on the following day by a male Evening Grosbeak, which paid about ten visits over the next two days. A pair of House Sparrows was at 115 Bayshore Road on March 8, raising the distressing possibility that the species may become regular here.
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.