Birds and birders have been returning to Presqu'ile Provincial Park in good numbers recently, no doubt attracted by the gradual disappearance of the ice in Presqu'ile Bay and Popham Bay. That has made for excellent waterfowl viewing, and incidental observations of other spring birds have made for exciting birding that is likely to continue over the next few days.
With flocks of Canada Geese now moving north, there is a good prospect of spotting the occasional Snow Goose. The large winter concentrations of Mute Swans at Presqu'ile have largely dispersed, and pairs are establishing territories even where there is no open water yet. Large numbers of dabbling ducks arrived back in the past two days. Two flocks of Wood Ducks were flying around the Park on March 22. Among the dabblers have been a few American Wigeons, Northern Pintails, and Green-winged Teal, but not yet any Eurasian Wigeons or Northern Shovelers, both of which occur at Presqu'ile on almost an annual basis in late March or early April. White-winged Scoters are occurring almost daily in double-digit numbers. Red-throated Loons are a Presqu'ile specialty bird that usually arrives at the end of March in Popham Bay. The first Pied-billed Grebe of the season was at the calf pasture on March 22. Single Great Blue Herons flew over the Park on March 14 and 19.
An adult and an immature Bald Eagle have been seen periodically in the past week, usually on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay. A Northern Harrier was seen on March 18. A Northern Goshawk was at Salt Point on March 17. There were unconfirmed reports of Cooper's Hawk and Broad-winged Hawk.
A few American Coots can often be spotted at the calf pasture with a careful search of the duck flocks. Single American Woodcocks were seen on March 17 at the calf pasture parking lot and on March 22 near Owen Point. A Northern Shrike was at the calf pasture on March 20.
Among the song birds whose presence appeared to be based on new arrivals rather than over-wintering birds were an early Eastern Phoebe on March 18, numerous American Robins, Song Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncoes, an Eastern Meadowlark, a Purple Finch, and a House Sparrow. Some actual migration of some of these species and of blackbirds can be observed in the early morning at the lighthouse when conditions are right.
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.