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Birding Report This week there has been a steady stream of migrating birds arriving at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, especially on Monday and Tuesday, when hundreds of birds were migrating over the lighthouse in the early hours of the day, as might have been expected, given the southerly winds and above average temperatures. Almost every day has seen new species returning, some of them earlier than any record published in Birds of Presqu'ile Park (1993).
One of the highlights of the past week has been the arrival of a number of loons. Red-throated Loons appeared in Popham Bay on March 27, and have been seen almost every day since, in numbers up to 17. A spotting scope is required to find these birds, as they have been remaining far offshore. A Common Loon could be seen from the calf pasture on March 28, a day earlier than the published early date. Small numbers of Horned Grebes have also been in Popham Bay since March 28. Several dozen Double-crested Cormorants are occupying their nest sites on the offshore islands and others can be seen flying over the Park at almost any time of day.
Wood Ducks have returned to Presqu'ile and can occasionally be seen flying around in pairs or threes. Other ducks, while still present in the thousands, are fewer than they were a week ago. A flock of White-winged Scoters was off Owen Point on March 28 (27, by one count), but neither Surf nor Black Scoters have yet been reported in the Park this year. They should be watched for.
Among raptors (and raptor-like birds), three Turkey Vultures on April 1, a Red-shouldered Hawk on March 30, and an American Kestrel and a Sharp-shinned Hawk on March 26 were of interest.
An American Woodcock that was flushed from beside a trail on March 29 was clearly a migrant that had not yet reached its breeding grounds. Caspian Terns were present on March 30 and 31, several days ahead of the earliest published record at Presqu'ile.
Also the earliest by several days, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was found on March 27, and another on each of the next two days, the only records prior to April 3. Small numbers of Northern Flickers moved in on March 27, and have been sighted every day since. A female Pileated Woodpecker has been excavating what appears to be a nest cavity for several days this week. The first Eastern Phoebe was found on March 27, and several others have been present almost every day since then.
One of very few Common Raven records for Presqu'ile was a bird being mobbed by American Crows on March 28. A few Tree Swallows arrived on March 28, and others were present on March 29 and 30. Winter Wrens have been in the Park since March 28, and an incredibly early Marsh Wren was reported on March 27 (along the marsh boardwalk). There is no published March record for Ruby-crowned Kinglet at Presqu'ile, but one was at Owen Point on March 29. An Eastern Bluebird, the only one so far this spring, put in an appearance near the lighthouse on March 29. Although warblers are not to be expected this early, there have been a few previous March sightings, so the next shift of winds to the south may bring in a few.
An unexpected Chipping Sparrow was at 83 Bayshore Road on March 30, a week earlier than the previous early date published in Birds of Presqu'ile Provincial Park. Normally, this species arrives at the same time as American Tree Sparrows leave, and there are still plenty of the latter around. Eastern Meadowlarks have been among the early morning migrants at the lighthouse since March 26, but a group of 16 near Owen Point on March 28 was exceptional.
It is rare to see a House Sparrow at Presqu'ile, but a male briefly visited the feeder at 186 Bayshore Road on March 28 and a female was there equally briefly on the following day.
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.