The outlook for this weekend's Waterfowl Festival at Presqu'ile Provincial Park looks very promising, in terms of the weather forecast, the ice conditions in Presqu'ile Bay, and, most importantly, the thousands of ducks and other water birds that are now in the bay. In addition, there is a multitude of spring birds to replace the disappearing winter birds, and more are arriving every day.
Thousands of CANADA GEESE have been moving over the Park in the past few days, and it seems like just a matter of time before someone scanning those flocks notices one or more SNOW GEESE among them. Four TUNDRA SWANS called noisily as they flew in on Monday morning, almost certainly not the same birds that were wintering in the bay. Among the ducks seen in recent days were several WOOD DUCKS, the first EURASIAN WIGEON of the season (at dusk this evening at the tip of Salt Point - the same date as the first of that species last year), several NORTHERN PINTAILS, a GREEN-WINGED TEAL, lots of CANVASBACKS, REDHEADS, and RING-NECKED DUCKS (among which optimistic birders are forever hoping to find a TUFTED DUCK), a few WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS, and a male BARROW'S GOLDENEYE at the lighthouse. The latter bird, likely the same one that wintered there, had disappeared for four days but was found again on three consecutive days, most recently on March 14. Also of interest in Presqu'ile Bay are PIED-BILLED and HORNED GREBES and an early DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT on March 15.
A TURKEY VULTURE flew over on March 12, apparently the earliest arrival date on record for that species at Presqu'ile. The most recent BALD EAGLE sighting was on March 12. Other spring birds in recent days include numerous AMERICAN COOTS, KILLDEERS, a WILSON'S SNIPE just outside the Park, and AMERICAN WOODCOCKS. Both ICELAND and GLAUCOUS GULLS were seen this week. If this report is a little later in being sent out this evening, it is because the writer was called away from his computer to hear a NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL calling at the entrance to the "fingers". Stopping shortly afterwards (by this time almost nine o'clock but under a nearly full moon) near the bird sightings board to listen for a BARRED OWL that the original observer had also heard, the writer heard a second NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL. Anyone coming to the waterfowl festival might stand a good chance of hearing both of those species in the evening or before dawn, given that the moon will still be nearly full.
A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER at the bird sightings board feeder, a BOREAL CHICKADEE near the government dock, a CAROLINA WREN seen twice briefly at 186 Bayshore Road and again this afternoon at 83 Bayshore Road, a flock of BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS on March 12, and the WHITE-THROATED and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS at 83 Bayshore Road must be thought of as remnants of the winter bird life. Four EASTERN MEADOWLARKS on March 14, while not quite a record, were still early. A possible TREE SWALLOW, had it been seen more than very briefly, would also be very early. A few COMMON REDPOLLS are still lingering in the Park.
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.