Jumping the gun on the annual Waterfowl Festival set to take place this Saturday and Sunday at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, many birders have been in the Park since last weekend and have been rewarded with plenty of ducks, including one rarity.
There have been unconfirmed reports of TUNDRA SWANS recently, a species that is not common at Presqu'ile. Another unconfirmed report was of a BLUE-WINGED TEAL on the exceptionally early (almost unprecedented) date of March 13. Other dabbling ducks present this week include AMERICAN WIGEON and NORTHERN PINTAIL. It would not be out of the question if a rare EURASIAN WIGEON or even an extremely rare TUFTED DUCK turned up soon, as has happened during a previous Waterfowl Festival. While not at all rare, the number of CANVASBACKS, as many as 300, has been exceptional this week. Unquestionably the highlight of the week has been a male HARLEQUIN DUCK that has been hanging around off the lighthouse since Saturday and was still present this afternoon. Patience is required in searching for the bird as it dives frequently and for prolonged intervals. Moreover, on Sunday it made forays to a few other parts of Presqu'ile Bay. While searching for that bird, people are often able to find WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS as well.
WILD TURKEYS continue to be seen. There have been no reports of any hawks this week but owls have put on a bit of a show. Two SNOWY OWLS sat on the ice on Friday, and one was there all weekend allowing many birders to watch it at leisure. On Sunday many people were treated to the sight of a BARRED OWL beside the road near the lighthouse. At that same location yesterday two of them were hooting duets at each other. On Saturday two birders found a vocalizing RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER, and another was at a feeder on Tuesday. A NORTHERN FLICKER at the calf pasture today may be the same individual that was there almost a month ago. The NORTHERN SHRIKE that has been lingering around the calf pasture was seen on at least three days. Two flocks of CEDAR WAXWINGS were seen yesterday.
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 distrubance to the colonial nesting birds there. Birders are encouraged to record their observations on the bird sightingsboard provided near the campground office by The Friends of Presqu'ile Parkand to fill out a rare bird report for species not listed there.