Spring-like weather at Presqu'ile Provincial Park for the past week has brought out many birders, most of whom have not been disappointed with the variety of newly arrived migrants, especially waterfowl.
Several flocks of CANADA GEESE were migrating overhead yesterday. In previous years, such flocks occasionally include SNOW GEESE, which will again be keenly anticipated in the coming weeks. Seven TUNDRA SWANS flew over yesterday, and after that was written, late this afternoon, another flock of about 40 flew over. The first WOOD DUCK of the season, a male, appeared on February 25 and was still present two days later. At least a dozen GADWALLS, 45 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, over 100 MALLARDS, up to seven NORTHERN SHOVELERS (one of which on February 27 broke the record early date established last year by one day), and 85 NORTHERN PINTAILS have made for exciting dabbler watching in the past two days. In terms of numbers, those have been overshadowed by thousands of diving ducks, mostly REDHEADS and GREATER SCAUP, but also including over 100 CANVASBACKS, dozens of RING-NECKED DUCKS, a few LESSER SCAUP and WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS, and a pair of HOODED MERGANSERS. RUFFED GROUSE were found in three different parts of the Park. The ever-present WILD TURKEYS have been seen again, and a lone AMERICAN COOT was present on February 24 and 26. Both ICELAND GULL and GLAUCOUS GULL were on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay yesterday as well as six GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS, all of which have been scarce this winter.
One or two BALD EAGLES were still present as recently as Tuesday. The only other hawks seen this week were a COOPER'S HAWK and a RED-TAILED HAWK. However, owls were prominent. Two GREAT HORNED OWLS were calling in "the fingers", a SNOWY OWL sat on a cottage roof all one morning, and a BARRED OWL was in the deepest part of Jobes' Woods. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS were seen at two different locations. A NORTHERN SHRIKE was seen twice at the calf pasture. One observer found four COMMON RAVENS in the Park. Two HORNED LARKS flew over on Sunday. A half-heartedly singing WINTER WREN was in "the fingers" on February 24. There was an unconfirmed second-hand report of a PURPLE FINCH.
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. Visitors to Gull Island not using a boat should be aware that if there is ice between Owen Point and the island, it may or may not support the weight of a human. 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.