Not surprisingly, given the summer-like temperatures, there has been a rush of new spring bird arrivals at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, while some of the earlier ones have moved on.
A massive CANADA GOOSE migration took place on the weekend. Among the flocks were a few CACKLING GEESE: one on March 17, two on March 18, and one on March 22. A flock of ten TUNDRA SWANS flew out of Presqu'ile Bay on March 16. For only the third time in the past decade, not a single EURASIAN WIGEON has showed up (yet) at Presqu'ile in spring, and since most of the ducks have moved on, the likelihood of finding one this spring seems slim, even though the average arrival date is later in March. With the appearance of a male NORTHERN SHOVELER on March 20, the only expected dabbling duck that has not yet arrived is BLUE-WINGED TEAL. For most of the past week a flock of over twenty WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS was near the lighthouse. A record early RED-THROATED LOON was in Popham Bay on March 16, and further sightings have included five this morning. Persistent fog has made it difficult on some days to know whether the loons are present or not. DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS have returned early this year, with up to six on March 18 and more since then. Single GREAT EGRETS were seen on March 18 and 21, eclipsing the previous early record of March 29.
A COOPER'S HAWK was heard on March 18 and a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK was seen on March 16. An anonymous report of a VIRGINIA RAIL on March 17 should be documented for the Park records with a rare bird report, since it is a month earlier than the previous early date. The first WILSON'S SNIPE of the season on March 18 was also a record early date for the Park.
AMERICAN WOODCOCKS are plentiful now, including one flushed at the lighthouse on March 22. The coming week should see the first BONAPARTE'S GULLS and CASPIAN TERNS arriving.
A ROCK PIGEON on a rooftop was unusual at Presqu'ile. One observer who was out before dawn heard three BARRED OWLS and a NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL. Two early BELTED KINGFISHERS were present on March 18. In addition to the ever-present RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER at 83 Bayshore Road, another was heard on two consecutive days in Jobes' woods, where the species nested two years ago. NORTHERN FLICKERS, not normally present this early, have been ubiquitous all week. EASTERN PHOEBES and TREE SWALLOWS are also present in greater numbers than normal for this date.
The latest NORTHERN SHRIKE sighting was on March 17. A COMMON RAVEN was heard near the bird sightings board. Two HORNED LARKS flew past Owen Point this morning. CAROLINA WRENS have been heard in three different places in the past week: the lighthouse, 83 Bayshore Road and vicinity, and the "fingers". An anonymous report of a HOUSE WREN at the lighthouse may have actually been one of those. There are now plenty of WINTER WRENS throughout the wooded areas of the Park. GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS came in en masse on the weekend. A HERMIT THRUSH was reported on March 16. A report of a SCARLET TANAGER on March 17 will need to be documented. On the other hand, an EASTERN TOWHEE report, while exceptionally early, does seem credible. The over-wintering SAVANNAH SPARROW continues to be seen. An early SWAMP SPARROW was at the marsh boardwalk on March 21. A late SNOW BUNTING was on the beach on March 17. A flock of 30 WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS on March 16 was the largest of the winter at Presqu'ile.
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.