With the rapidly dwindling number of ducks at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, visiting birders are concentrating increasingly on newly arriving land birds, of which there are now many.
One of the specialties for which Presqu'ile has become known is the concentration of Red-throated Loons in Popham Bay in spring. Because they usually remain far offshore, the number that can be seen on any given day depends on the viewing conditions, calm water being the best. On most days, half a dozen or so can be spotted through a scope, but on April 2 nineteen were counted by one observer and fourteen by another. The early morning flight of Common Loons will soon be a daily occurrence, but two early birds flew over on April 4. In the marsh, Pied-billed Grebes are vocally engaged in courtship.
The first Great Egret showed up on March 31, and one or more have been seen almost every day since then, sometimes sitting in the trees in the extreme south-west corner of the marsh and prominently displaying their metre-long plumes. Black-crowned Night-Herons
are due to arrive any day now. They will likely be spotted first sitting in the trees on Sebastopol Island.
One or more Tundra Swans have been seen with the Mute Swans off Bayshore Road, most recently on April 2. Many people have been looking for the Eurasian Wigeon that was present over a week ago, but the only subsequent sighting was on April 2. Eight White-winged Scoters flew past the campground on April 6. An American Woodcock was at the lighthouse on March 31.
Several interesting gulls were found since last weekend, including three Bonaparte's Gulls at Owen Point on April 4 and 6, a Lesser Black-backed Gull there on April 1, an Iceland Gull at the lighthouse on the same day, and a surprising total of 24 Great Black-backed Gulls on April 3, the largest number since last summer, after which many died of disease. Caspian Terns are now a daily sighting at Owen Point and elsewhere.
Among the land birds that arrived in good numbers on the weekend were Eastern Phoebes, Tree Swallows, Brown Creepers, Winter Wrens, hordes of Golden-crowned Kinglets, an Eastern Towhee, a Field Sparrow, and a Fox Sparrow. Except for the towhee, all of those have since been around, along with an early Hermit Thrush on the Newcastle trail on April 3 and an early Ruby-crowned Kinglet on the Owen Point trail on April 6. Perhaps surprisingly, there have been no reports yet of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Swamp Sparrows, or Rusty Blackbirds, all of which are normally back by this date. A Pine Siskin and a House Sparrow paid brief visits to the feeders at 186 Bayshore Road on April 6.
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, including the peninsula that is commonly known as Gull Island, 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.