The spring bird migration is clearly under way at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, with waterfowl being the major players up till now. Among them have been two rare species, both of which have been present for much of the winter.
There are hundreds of Mute Swans and at least three Tundra Swans in Presqu'ile Bay. The discovery last weekend of a Greater White-fronted Goose a few kilometres west of Presqu'ile should serve notice to birders visiting the Park that that rarity may find its way to Presqu'ile, where a few Canada Geese can usually be found. Thousands of diving ducks have poured in during the past few days, almost all of them Greater Scaup. Apart from enjoying the spectacle of so many ducks, a keen and patient observer can usually find a few Canvasbacks and Redheads among them. The background noise of hundreds of Long-tailed Ducks is music to the ears of those who associate that clamour with spring. The three most interesting species seen at Presqu'ile in the past few days, all in the general lighthouse area, have been a female Harlequin Duck seen on February 20 (perhaps the same bird that was frequenting the western part of the Park earlier in the winter), White-winged Scoters (up to three of which have been seen on six of the past seven days), and a male Barrow's Goldeneye (which has been present for a full month and finally, on February 21, co-operated by showing itself to every birder that came looking for it, including some who had made repeated unsuccessful efforts to find it).
The remains of a Ruffed Grouse were found at the entrance to a fox's den beside the Newcastle trail. Bald Eagles have appeared about every second day, and two observers wondered whether the bird that they saw might have been a Golden Eagle.
Mourning Doves and Pileated Woodpeckers have begun vocalizing in the past few days, another sign of spring. On each of the past two days, a Northern Shrike was spotted at the calf pasture, probably the same bird that has been in that vicinity since November. Golden-crowned Kinglets were observed on February 21. The American Robins that have been at Presqu'ile all winter have moved out into the open again and are foraging on exposed patches of lawn. Since February 18 there have been as many as four Brown-headed Cowbirds patronizing the feeders at 85 Bayshore Road, the first of that species in the Park since early November.
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. Although the channels separating Gull Island from Owen Point appear to be frozen over, the thickness of the ice is probably unreliable because of the underlying currents, and the water below the ice is deeper than usual.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.