Surprising as it may seem at this early date, the spring bird migration has begun at Presqu'ile Provincial Park. Like other places in southern Ontario, Presqu'ile has had an influx of ducks in the past few days, quite apart from those that have been in the Park all winter, and a few other birds have also been on the move.
For the past two days, two TRUMPETER SWANS have been near the government dock, and the day before that five TUNDRA SWANS were there. Among the returning waterfowl six GADWALLS were off lookout 4 at Owen Point yesterday. Four NORTHERN PINTAILS were at Salt Point yesterday, and another ten were off lookout 4 at Owen Point. Today there were initially five at the latter location, but another flock of seven flew in to join them. The most surprising was a male GREEN-WINGED TEAL at that same location both yesterday and today, three to four weeks earlier than the previous Presqu'ile record. Perhaps there is even an AMERICAN WIGEON somewhere in the area. A male RING-NECKED DUCK at the calf pasture yesterday was also early. Most of the CANVASBACKS that arrived three weeks ago have apparently left, with only singles being seen on three of the last seven days. This morning there were not one but two male BARROW'S GOLDENEYES within metres of each other at the end of Bayshore Road near the lighthouse.
Two BALD EAGLES were on the ice of Presqu'ile Bay, while a NORTHERN HARRIER made futile efforts to share whatever they were eating. Another BALD EAGLE and a PEREGRINE FALCON flew over Bayshore Road. Other NORTHERN HARRIERS were at Owen Point and High Bluff Island. A MERLIN was seen on January 22. The first AMERICAN COOT since late December was at the calf pasture on the early date of January 26. On January 22 a SNOWY OWL was on the beach and another on Gull Island. One was on High Bluff Island yesterday and today. On several attempts, birders have failed to find any, a significant change from earlier in the month, perhaps attributable to the presence of snow, which makes them harder to spot. Alternatively, the ice on the east shore of Popham Bay may have made prey harder to find, in which case they may have moved to High Bluff Island. Another theory that has been offered is that there has been too much illegal harassment. Single BARRED OWLS were seen twice this week, each in a different place.
The best place to find RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS seems to be Bayshore Road between Langton Lane and the government dock, where there have been a few sightings in the past week. NORTHERN SHRIKE sightings are regular just west of there. A COMMON RAVEN was heard on January 20. One might expect HORNED LARKS to appear soon, as they have done just outside of Brighton. The CAROLINA WREN that has been wintering at 83 Bayshore Road has not been reported from anywhere else nearby but was still present on January 21. Both an AMERICAN ROBIN and a flock of EUROPEAN STARLINGS showed up today in places where they have not been all winter. The wintering SAVANNAH SPARROW has appeared several times this week at a feeder at 102 Bayshore Road, which unfortunately is not visible from the road. This afternoon it was back where first discovered, 83 Bayshore Road, where there was also a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW on January 20 and where a flock of 14 SNOW BUNTINGS appeared briefly on January 21, apparently returning migrants. The first COMMON REDPOLL of the winter was at 186 Bayshore Road on January 25.
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 prepared to wade through knee-deep water in which there is often a swift current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven and slippery. Moreover, there is a great deal of ice on the surrounding shore. 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.