Hardly a day has gone by in the past week without at least one newly arrived species of bird appearing at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, including a few that are earlier than expected. Birders have been finding migrants with no trouble at all, though many have moved out of the Park with the cooler weather of the past two days.
A TRUMPETER SWAN was off the lighthouse on April 8. With the exception of LONG-TAILED DUCKS and BUFFLEHEADS, numbers of ducks are now sharply reduced from earlier in the month, but there is still a decent variety to be found. RUFFED GROUSE have been found on at least three days, with as many as four on a single day. Their drumming helps to locate them. Two HORNED GREBES were off the lighthouse on Tuesday, and more should be showing up soon in Popham Bay as well as in the open waters of Lake Ontario. An evening walk on the marsh boardwalk yielded the first VIRGINIA RAIL of the season on April 9. Not reported until too late for last week's report was a SANDHILL CRANE that was seen and heard over the marsh on April 5. Both WILSON'S SNIPE and AMERICAN WOODCOCK have been observed performing their aerial displays. A fly-past of a dozen or more BONAPARTE'S GULLS occurred at the lighthouse on April 7. On April 8 an adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was on a gravel bar off Owen Point and another that was nearly fully adult was on Gull Island. The former was still present on April 9, when eight GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS were counted. A few CASPIAN TERNS have also returned, as have RED-THROATED LOONS in Popham Bay, one on April 9 and two on April 11. The first AMERICAN BITTERN of the year was in the marsh on April 9, and the first GREAT EGRET flew past High Bluff Island.
OSPREYS have begun building their nest on the Salt Point lighthouse. A ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK was seen on High Bluff Island and a BARRED OWL was preening itself in Newcastle Woods. RED-BELLIED and PILEATED WOODPECKERS have both been found. MERLINS, as many as four on one day, have been seen, as well as COMMON RAVENS. Among the new arrivals are the following: PURPLE MARTINS, BARN SWALLOWS, MARSH WREN, a record early BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER near the lighthouse on April 11, RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS, BROWN THRASHER, PURPLE FINCH, PINE WARBLERS in at least three different parts of the Park, EASTERN TOWHEES, CHIPPING SPARROWS, FIELD SPARROWS, SAVANNAH SPARROW, FOX SPARROWS, RUSTY BLACKBIRDS. Another species that occasionally turns up in mid-April and should be looked for is TUFTED TITMOUSE.
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.