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Birding Report

Understandably, insect-eating birds are having a difficult time at Presqu'ile Provincial Park these days, unless they had the good sense to delay their arrival, which many of them seem to have done. Other migrants are returning more or less on schedule, including one bird that passes through only rarely but usually right at this time of year.

Among the remaining dabbling ducks, GREEN-WINGED TEAL are by far the most plentiful, and again today were accompanied by a pair of NORTHERN SHOVELERS. All three species of scoters have been at Presqu'ile this week. A SURF SCOTER was at the lighthouse on April 19, three were there today, and a pair of BLACK SCOTERS was there on April 18 and 21.

Another pair, or perhaps the same ones, was off the day use area on April 19. Normally in mid- to late April, RED-THROATED LOONS are present in numbers of close to a dozen or more on any given day, but in the past week I know of only one being seen, as usual in Popham Bay.

GREAT EGRETS and BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS have not yet reached their summer numbers but a few can be seen on most days.

A WILD TURKEY was not far from the lighthouse this morning. Most shorebirds are not expected before May, but an early SPOTTED SANDPIPER showed up today and three DUNLINS were at Owen Point on at least two days earlier in the week. BONAPARTE'S GULLS and CASPIAN TERNS have been scarcer than normal this week, but more should soon be arriving, perhaps accompanied by a LITTLE GULL.

During the cold weather, hundreds of swallows gather at Presqu'ile, foraging for insects low over the water and resting periodically on lawns. Whenever the air temperature rises a few degrees, they disperse and rest as needed on wires and trees. The vast majority so far have been TREE SWALLOWS and BARN SWALLOWS, but PURPLE MARTINS and NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED, BANK, and CLIFF SWALLOWS have all been seen . Only one of the latter was seen, on April 16, but the others were all present this morning.

Unquestionably, the highlight of the week was a TUFTED TITMOUSE that visited a feeder at 83 Bayshore Road on April 19 but has eluded birders since then. YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS were seen in two different parts of the Park this morning, but not yet in the large numbers expected soon.

PINE WARBLERS are likely to be next. An EASTERN TOWHEE has been at 83 Bayshore Road since Saturday and might still be there. A FIELD SPARROW was near the Park store on April 15. FOX SPARROWS and SWAMP SPARROWS are present in small numbers. A WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW in full breeding (alternate) plumage at 83 Bayshore Road on April 17 would likely be a record early date if it were a migrant. Probably, however, it is the same bird that was there all winter but was still in its basic plumage when last seen on March 31. If so, the moult would have had to take place in barely over two weeks. RUSTY BLACKBIRDS have been at the lighthouse and in a swampy area beside High Bluff campground. The first PURPLE FINCH of the year was at 83 Bayshore Road on April 17. A few PINE SISKINS have also been there as recently as April 19.

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. 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.

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Fred Helleiner