Not surprisingly, given the warm weather and southerly winds of most of the past week at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, the spring bird migration has been in full swing, with at least one species arriving at a record early date. Those who came to enjoy the first of the two Waterfowl Viewing weekends were not disappointed, as both the weather and the birds co-operated.
Among the thousands of Canada Geese that have passed over the Park in recent days were a few Snow Geese, including a group of twelve birds over the lighthouse on March 15. Two immature Trumpeter Swans were in Presqu'ile Bay on March 17 and Tundra Swans have been in both Presqu'ile Bay and Popham Bay between March 14 and 17. Dabbling ducks have become much more plentiful over the past week. The highlight has been an elusive male Eurasian Wigeon that was first discovered near the calf pasture on March 17 and then disappeared despite the best efforts of numerous birders to relocate it. In the afternoon of March 19, it mysteriously re-appeared off Lilac Lane and was seen by several observers. If the pattern of recent years is a guideline, the bird may stay around for a few more days.
A Northern Shoveler was also in Presqu'ile Bay on March 18. As yet there have been no sightings of Blue-winged Teal, often the last of the dabbling ducks to arrive. Other ducks seen this week include all of the common divers, a few Lesser Scaup, a female Surf Scoter, and up to a dozen White-winged Scoters, but as yet no Ruddy Ducks, which come a little later if they come at all.
Popham Bay has become renowned as a stopover for Red-throated Loons. Normally they show up in late March or early April but a single bird off beach 3 on March 17 was much earlier than the previous early date. Single Pied-billed Grebes and Horned Grebes have been in Presqu'ile Bay for several days. A Great Blue Heron flew past the calf pasture on March 15. Both Sharp-shinned Hawk and Cooper's Hawk appeared along Bayshore Road this week. The first American Woodcock of the spring was heard near 30 Bayshore Road on March 14.
On March 15 and 17 a Glaucous Gull was on the ice at the calf pasture. Almost all of the visitors to the Waterfowl Viewing Festival were able to see a Snowy Owl, which sat in plain view, albeit at some distance, for much of both Saturday and Sunday, as well as on Tuesday (March 17). One of the visitors with a particularly keen eye spotted a Barred Owl at the edge of Jobes' woods while driving by.
The first Northern Flicker of the season, near the lighthouse on March 19, was one of several land birds that returned in the past few days. A Northern Shrike was seen on four of the past five days, sometimes at the calf pasture and sometimes at 83 Bayshore Road, where the feeders attract lots of potential victims for that predator.
On March 19, a Winter Wren was found in Jobes' woods and two Eastern Meadowlarks were at the calf pasture. The finch numbers have dropped sharply since a week ago. A Purple Finch was at 83 Bayshore Road today. The last day on which the two Hoary Redpolls visited 186 Bayshore Road feeders was March 16, but a handful of Common Redpolls remains.
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.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.