Presqu'ile Provincial Park seems to be as good a place as any on the north shore of Lake Ontario for finding spring birds. Almost all of the birds reported from other places between Kingston and Burlington have been showing up in the Park for a number of days.
Although no new duck species were reported in the past week, there were still thousands of diving ducks and a smattering of dabbling ducks in Presqu'ile Bay during the Waterfowl Weekend that took place last weekend, and most of those are still present but far offshore.
PIED-BILLED GREBES have been present and vocal for the past few days. A sighting in the waters off the lighthouse on March 21 or 22 of a bird bobbing up and down which the observers were fairly certain was an EARED GREBE in transitional plumage awaits the submission to the Park of a promised rare bird report. An anonymous "x" on the bird sightings board indicates that a DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT was seen on March 22.
Although that date is two days earlier than the previous record for Presqu'ile, the appearance of that species that early is not surprising, especially since others have been seen in the past two days. GREAT BLUE HERONS began re-occupying their nests on High Bluff Island on March 24.
A BALD EAGLE was seen on March 20, and OSPREYS should soon be returning. A COOPER'S HAWK flew over on March 25. Again this week, the WILD TURKEY has shown an affinity for human habitats, appearing in a cottage lot and on the front porch of a home. A SANDHILL CRANE, never common at Presqu'ile, flew over on March 20. An AMERICAN WOODCOCK was calling behind 83 Bayshore Road. SNOWY OWLS, perhaps the same bird on each occasion, were seen at three different locations. On March 19 it was at Owen Point; on March 21 it sat all morning in a tree at the outer edge of "the fingers", to the delight of the visitors to the Waterfowl Weekend, a consolation prize for those expecting hundreds of ducks to be nearby; on March 22 it was on a duck hunters' blind on Sebastopol Island, where the uncharacteristic absence of gulls drew attention to its presence. The only report of a BARRED OWL coming to my attention in the past week was of a bird seen on March 20 by numerous visitors en route to the waterfowl viewing stations. Perhaps the influx of the past winter, like winter itself, is over. Alternatively, it may just be that everyone is too jaded by the numbers of owls of the winter to bother reporting them!
Just outside the Park along the causeway the first NORTHERN FLICKER since last fall appeared. A NORTHERN SHRIKE was seen several times on the weekend near the calf pasture and another was near the Park entrance today. The first TREE SWALLOWS flew over Presqu'ile Bay on March 20, and another was at the calf pasture on March 24. The wintering CAROLINA WREN was seen again on March 20 and 21. Normally at this time of year a few EASTERN BLUEBIRDS pass through the Park, but none has yet appeared.
FOX SPARROWS are also due very soon. The wintering WHITE-THROATED SPARROW showed up at 83 Bayshore Road on the weekend.
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.