For at least two days this week, southerly winds brought the first rush of spring migrants to Presqu'ile Provincial Park this month.
On Monday and Tuesday, flock after flock of CANADA GEESE flew over. Small groups of TUNDRA SWANS flew over on Monday and Wednesday. A male WOOD DUCK was present yesterday. There has been a noticeable increase in recent days in the number of GADWALLS, AMERICAN WIGEONS, and RING-NECKED DUCKS. The male HARLEQUIN DUCK that was first detected on March 10 was rediscovered on Friday at the calf pasture and has been a regular on the last four days. Yesterday it was still at the calf pasture at noon, where it has been all week, but by late in the day it had returned to its former location at the lighthouse, where it was this afternoon. It often associates with WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS. RUFFED GROUSE were heard or seen at three different locations yesterday. On March 23 and 27, there were sightings of the first KILLDEER this year. The first COMMON LOON of the season was off the calf pasture yesterday, and the first GREAT BLUE HERONS flew over on Sunday and Monday. Given the recent observation of RED-THROATED LOONS elsewhere on Lake Ontario, they may soon appear in Popham Bay.
Two immature BALD EAGLES were on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay on Friday and one on Sunday. A COOPER'S HAWK was seen on Tuesday. A SNOWY OWL was on the ice near the marsh on Friday, Sunday, and Wednesday, and two others were on the offshore islands on Wednesday, indicating a total of at least three individuals yesterday. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS are widespread in the Park, and a NORTHERN FLICKER was again seen at the calf pasture on Saturday, perhaps the same individual that was seen there twice before in recent weeks. A PILEATED WOODPECKER was heard yesterday. On Tuesday, a NORTHERN SHRIKE was near the beach 2 entrance road, where one was seen earlier in the winter. A group of four COMMON RAVENS flew past the lighthouse on Monday. On Tuesday a PURPLE FINCH was singing and two EASTERN MEADOWLARKS flew over.
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.
Though I'm not yet ready to fall off my perch, in anticipation of the imminent completion of my 85th trip around the sun, I have decided to take DOUG McRAE up on his long-standing generous offer to take over the responsibility for reporting each Thursday on the birds that have been seen in Presqu'ile Provincial Park during the preceding week. So this is not a swan song, except to the extent that, as a chronicler of Presqu'ile bird sightings, I will henceforth be mute.
I very much appreciate Doug's willingness to assume that responsibility beginning next week and will reciprocate by letting him know in a timely manner what birds I have seen myself or have heard about, as he and others have regularly done for me in the past. I have enjoyed the opportunity that writing weekly reports has given me to interact with so many birders from many parts of Ontario and beyond, whose contributions to those reports have helped to make them as comprehensive as possible and are greatly appreciated. I hope that birders will let Doug know about their sightings. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I will forward to him any reports that come my way.
Many birders visiting Presqu'ile have informed other birders about their sightings by entering them on the bird sightings board provided by The Friends of Presqu'ile at the parking lot beside the campground office, and my hope is that this tradition will continue, as it has supplemented other sources of information for my weekly reports.
I am delighted that Doug has offered his services to ensure the continuation of the weekly birding reports from Presqu'ile, which he is eminently qualified to write. He visits the Park frequently and has been THE local authority on birds for many years. I look forward to reading Doug's reports as his writings and his knowledge of the Park and its birds have always impressed me.
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.