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Birding Report

Now that temperatures have returned to normal at Presqu'ile Provincial Park and winds have shifted to the north, the arrival of early migrant birds has slowed down, but some of those many early migrants are still lingering in the Park. The biggest surprise of the past week, a rare southern ibis, may be one of those.

The waterfowl migration has slowed to a trickle, but a pair of NORTHERN SHOVELERS in the marsh on March 28 was noteworthy. Whenever there is calm water in Popham Bay, a few RED-THROATED LOONS can be seen with the help of a spotting scope. Next month the numbers of that Presqu'ile specialty should rise to double digits. A COMMON LOON was in Presqu'ile Bay on March 28. This morning the first HORNED GREBE in the Park since early January was off the day use area, and the first AMERICAN BITTERN of the spring was in the marsh. A check of the GREAT EGRET nesting area on High Bluff Island on March 26 revealed none, and the BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS have apparently not yet returned to their nesting area on Sebastopol Island. An IBIS of the /Plegadis/ genus (GLOSSY or WHITE-FACED) flew over the Park entrance on March 23 but has not been re-located. Either species would be earlier than any of the very few records from Presqu'ile. The first OSPREY of the season was over the marsh on March 25, a record early date. A COOPER'S HAWK doing a flight display over the fingers on March 28 and a MERLIN eating some prey item on March 25 were the only other hawks of interest. It has been learned that the VIRGINIA RAIL mentioned in last week's report was actually outside the Park, but another in the marsh on March 23 was still much earlier than the previous Park record. A CASPIAN TERN off Owen Point on March 23 was three days earlier than the previous Presqu'ile record, set twelve years ago. Two rather late SNOWY OWLS were seen on March 25, and one was still there (on High Bluff Island) on the next day. Two BARRED OWLS were near the Nature Centre on March 25.

RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS are in at least two areas of the Park. A record early YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER was behind the Park store on March 23.

Both of the NORTHERN SHRIKE sightings in the past week, on March 23 and 25, were on the late side. With growing numbers of TREE SWALLOWS around, other swallow species should be here soon. A HERMIT THRUSH was seen on March 25. The YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER seen on March 22 was probably the earliest ever in the Park. An early EASTERN TOWHEE was heard yesterday. SWAMP SPARROWS have been found twice in the marsh in the past week. A WHITE-THROATED SPARROW was reported on March 26. A male HOUSE SPARROW, never common in the Park, was seen in two different locations.

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