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Birding Report

Presqu’ile Bird Report for the Week of 30 March-5 April 2018

I would like to start my first attempt at the Presqu’ile Bird Report by acknowledging the dedication of Fred Helleiner, who has done this report without fail for nearly two decades.  As I try to assemble the information for this edition I am just starting to realize the effort involved.  Thank you Fred, and thank you to the folks who passed along their sightings to me – please keep them coming.

Highlights are few but include two reports of SANDHILL CRANE, an ICELAND GULL, lingering SNOWY OWLS, a NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD and an overwintering immature WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW.

The persistent cold and northerly winds have really kept migration at bay and bird-wise it feels more like mid March than early April.  In spite of this a few new arrivals are being reported, but in very low numbers.  There are still lots of expected species that have yet to show.

The ice is now out of Presqu’ile Bay and the marsh has fully opened up so waterfowl are less concentrated but most of the expected species are present.  There was a report of 2 CACKLING GEESE on 30 Mar. without details.  A MUTE SWAN was seen on 1 Apr. in a shallow pond between the Beach 1 and 2 access road, which is an unusual location for this avian plague.  Four GREEN-WINGED TEAL seen on 3 Apr were the first of the year.  RUFFED GROUSE were heard drumming on Apr 3, and at least 10 WILD TURKEY have survived the winter, suggesting this introduced species is now fully established in Presqu’ile.  The first COMMON LOON and PIED-BILLED GREBE were seen on 31 March, followed by the first HORNED GREBE on 5 Apr when three were seen.  85 newly arrived DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS were roosting on Gull Is. on 31 Mar. Three GREAT BLUE HERON were noted on 31 Mar. and a GREAT EGRET was seen at a small pond on Huff Rd. just outside the Park on 3 Apr.  Hawks included an OSPREY on 30 Mar, NORTHERN HARRIERS beginning on 30 Mar., SHARP-SHINNED HAWK on 3 Apr and several sightings of COOPER’S HAWK, including a banded male photographed at Paxton Rd. and Atkins Lane. Single fly-over SANDHILL CRANES were reported on 31 Mar. and 3 Apr.  Both KILLDEER and AMERICAN WOODCOCK have been seen throughout the week but still no sightings of snipe or yellowlegs.  Thousands of RING-BILLED GULL and hundreds of HERRING GULL are busy courting on Gull Is.  A few GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS have also been seen. An immature ICELAND GULL flew past the gate on 31 Mar.  A SNOWY OWL was seen from the causeway on 30 Mar., and another was seen several times on Gull Is. as recently as 3 Apr.  One of the resident BARRED OWLS was calling in Newcastle Woods in the daytime on 3 Apr. The first BELTED KINGFISHER was seen on 3 Apr. and the first migrant NORTHERN FLICKER was seen on 1 Apr.  Up to three RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER were seen on 3 Apr, and all resident woodpeckers are becoming more obvious as drumming ramps up.  MERLINS were seen at widely scattered locations with at least two pairs displaying courtship activities.  A HORNED LARK dropped in at Owen Pt. on 3 Apr, and the first TREE SWALLOW was seen on 2 Apr., followed by two the next day.  BROWN CREEPER has seemed more obvious this past week, suggesting some migration is taking place.  A  WINTER WREN on 5 Apr was also likely a migrant. A NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD - rare here - was reported at the Marsh Boardwalk parking lot on 31 Mar.  Overwintering WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS were seen at Bayshore Rd. feeders, but a bird singing at the Park gate on 3 Apr was new for that location.  An immature WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW that has been sporadically seen throughout the winter was at the Birdhouse Nature Store feeders just outside the gate on several dates this week.  Two EASTERN MEADOWLARKS flew over the Marsh Boardwalk parking area on 3 Apr.  Last, and possibly least, a female HOUSE SPARROW (somewhat scarce in the Park) was seen entering a birdhouse near the end of Bayshore Rd.

Presqu’ile Provincial Park is located on the north shore of Lake Ontario, just south of the town of Brighton.  It can be reached from either Hwy. 401 or Cty. Rd. 2 and is well signed.  A Park map can be found in the information tabloid available at the Park gate.  Presqu’ile’s two offshore islands – Gull and High Bluff – support a large multi-species colonial bird nesting site and access is not permitted during the breeding season.