For the past week, birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park has been fairly typical of the period between the nones and the ides of March. The new arrivals have included not only thousands of waterfowl but also many songbirds, albeit of a fairly limited variety.
A Tundra Swan was seen on March 13. The first Wood Duck of the year arrived on March 10, and a pair was present off the government dock the next day. Gadwalls and American Wigeons are now a daily occurrence, but, perhaps surprisingly, no Northern Pintails have yet been reported. Two Green-winged Teal were sitting on the ice near the government dock on March 13, which is earlier than the first reported date mentioned in /Birds of Presqu'ile Provincial Park/ (1993) but not the earliest date since that book was published. Hundreds of Canvasbacks and Redheads and a few dozen Ring-necked Ducks have been in Presqu'ile Bay for several days, concentrated mainly between the calf pasture and the government dock. A few White-winged Scoters are seen almost every day between the government dock and the lighthouse. The southerly winds that have brought in so many new birds this week had also apparently driven away at least one bird that has been at Presqu'ile since January. Almost everyone who came to the first of the two Waterfowl Viewing weekends was able to get a good look at a male Barrow's Goldeneye, and, although it was also seen on the two days before and the two days after the weekend, it was not seen again until after the first draft of this report was completed. This is the second false alarm about the disappearance of that bird. Eventually, of course, it will decide to move on. Hooded Mergansers have been seen at several points in Presqu'ile Bay and are now most easily seen at the calf pasture. Two Ruddy Ducks, never common at Presqu'ile, were off the government dock on March 13 and 14. A Horned Grebe was also there on March 13, apparently the earliest date on record for that species in the Park. Pied-billed Grebes normally arrive before Horned Grebes and may be expected within a few days.
Single Bald Eagles were seen twice in the past week, as were single American Coots. A Snowy Owl was sitting on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay on March 10. The elusive Northern Shrike that has been at the calf pasture through much of the winter was seen again on March 12. In all probability there are now American Woodcocks at Presqu'ile, but a search at the calf pasture one evening proved unsuccessful.
Eastern Bluebirds are normally among the earliest songbird arrivals and, while never common, may soon be expected in the calf pasture or elsewhere. American Robins are now widespread and singing at Presqu'ile. A flock of Cedar Waxwings was at 79 Bayshore Road on March 15. Song Sparrows have been around 186 Bayshore Road since March 12. A few Brown-headed Cowbirds have been among the other blackbirds along Bayshore Road for several days.
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.