In an abrupt change from earlier this month, the bird life at Presqu'ile Provincial Park has changed day by day. Not surprisingly, given the unusually warm weather, early migrants are appearing daily and ice conditions are more like what one would expect in mid- to late March.
The elderly TRUMPETER SWAN known to many eastern Ontario birders as K29 (its wing tag designation) was present near the calf pasture on Tuesday. Although there have not yet been any sightings of WOOD DUCKS, many of the other early dabbling ducks have appeared in small numbers: GADWALLS, AMERICAN WIGEONS, NORTHERN PINTAILS, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, all of which are somewhat earlier than normal. There are thousands of diving ducks in Presqu'ile Bay these days, mostly REDHEADS and GREATER SCAUP, but with a sprinkling of other ducks in the Aythya genus: CANVASBACKS, RING-NECKED DUCKS, and LESSER SCAUP. This afternoon, opposite 123 Bayshore Road, one observer saw all three scoter species within the field of his scope. The female SURF SCOTER was the first of the spring at Presqu'ile, the WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS have been there all winter, and the female BLACK SCOTER may be the same individual that was seen twice in mid- to late January as well as yesterday. A few minutes later, the same observer saw all three merganser species near the calf pasture. The pair of HOODED MERGANSERS were pre-dated by two males in the same area on Tuesday, and the COMMON and RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS have been present in small numbers all winter.
The regular group of WILD TURKEYS again crossed the road, this time near 42 Bayshore Road. With a KILLDEER being seen this afternoon just outside the Park, it is not too much of a stretch to expect that species and/or an AMERICAN WOODCOCK to show up in the Park before the end of the month, the record early dates for those two species being February 23 and 26, respectively. Both ICELAND GULL and GLAUCOUS GULL were off Gull Island on Monday. Apart from the BALD EAGLES that have been seen almost every day in the past week, there were no other raptors reported.
The previously reported injured COMMON RAVEN has taken to flying around and is being seen regularly near the government dock. A GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET, an uncommonly seen but known-to-be-present winter bird at Presqu'ile was seen this morning. Two PINE SISKINS have made infrequent brief visits to the feeders at 186 Bayshore Road, including yesterday and today. Yesterday the first RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS of the season descended on local feeders, with 14 at 83 Bayshore Road. Among them this afternoon was a BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD.
Locations within the Park are shown on a map at the back of a tabloid that is available at the Park gate. Visitors to Gull Island may encounter water a few centimetres deep on approach.
Birders are encouraged to record their observations on the bird sightings board provided near the campground office by The Friends of Presqu'ile Park and to fill out a rare bird report for species not listed there.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.