Early spring birding is now at its best at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, with waterfowl not yet having moved on and new song birds arriving almost every day. It seems quite possible that, by the end of March, 100 species of birds will have been found at Presqu'ile since the beginning of the year.
There have been two reported sightings of Snow Geese in the past week, but no details were provided by the observer(s). Hundreds of Canada Geese have been streaming overhead each time there is a favourable wind. Small groups of Tundra Swans have dropped in for brief periods. Wood Ducks, as many as 15 at a time, have been seen on at least five of the past seven days, usually in the marsh opposite the bird sightings board. Gadwalls, American Wigeons, Northern Pintails, and Green-winged Teal have also been present almost every day, but their numbers are not yet at their peak. As the marsh and its adjacent waters open up even more, we may expect Blue-winged Teal and Northern Shovelers to appear within the next few days, and possibly even an Eurasian Wigeon or two. Anyone hoping for a good look at Ring-necked Ducks could do no better than to check the same area of the marsh, where as many as 100 or more can be easily observed from the roadside. A few Lesser Scaup are beginning to appear, and will eventually outnumber Greater Scaup as the latter move on. White-winged Scoters have been present on all sides of the peninsula for over ten days and in larger numbers than in previous years. Ruddy Ducks, normally quite uncommon at Presqu'ile, have been present since Sunday off the end of Langton Avenue and elsewhere.
The first Red-throated Loon of the season was detected in Popham Bay on the rather early date of March 23, and up to six have been there on several days since then. Foggy conditions have made them impossible to see on the other days. A few Common Loons have also been present, both there and in Presqu'ile Bay. Pied-billed Grebes are now calling to each other in the marsh. A few Horned Grebes have been sighted at Owen Point, Salt Point, and Popham Bay. The first six Double-crested Cormorants returned on March 23 (perhaps a record early date), and more have arrived daily since then. Eight Great Blue Herons were in various parts of the Park on March 26, and three days later three nests on High Bluff Island were occupied. Great Egrets and perhaps Black-crowned Night-Herons
will likely arrive within a few days.
A few Sharp-shinned
and Cooper's Hawks moved through early this week, and the first American Kestrel of the season (at least at Presqu'ile) was at the calf pasture on March 27. American Woodcocks have been performing along the entrance road and opposite 38 Bayshore Road. Two Bonaparte's Gulls on March 26 pre-date the earliest date mentioned in /Birds of Presqu'ile Provincial Park/ (1993), and another was seen on March 29. An Iceland Gull was in Presqu'ile Bay on the earlier date.
Northern Flickers were found in three different places since March 23. Other spring birds that have arrived more or less on schedule include Eastern Phoebes, Tree Swallows, Brown Creepers, Winter Wrens, Golden-crowned Kinglets, an Eastern Bluebird (March 29), and a Fox Sparrow (March 28). A report of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet on March 24 would represent a new early record if confirmed. A Northern Shrike seen at the calf pasture on March 23 may turn out to be the last one of the winter. Apart from a few that have occasionally spent the winter at Presqu'ile in previous years, the Eastern Towhee that appeared on March 28 was earlier than any published record. The feeder at 186 Bayshore Road was visited by both a male and a female House Sparrow, a species that has traditionally been rare at Presqu'ile but has occurred with increasing frequency in recent months.
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.