For birders at Presqu'ile Provincial Park there has been little reason to beware the Ides of March or the days leading up to it from the Nones of March. On the contrary, birding has been not only profitable but also pleasant given the exceptionally mild weather. Some record early dates have been established this week and spring migrants are abundant.
Among the thousands of CANADA GEESE passing over the Park on March 12 was a single CACKLING GOOSE, the earliest on record here. Many of the MUTE SWANS have scattered from their winter concentrations in Presqu'ile Bay, and some have settled on what appear to be their nests, which seems remarkably early for that to happen. As a prelude to the upcoming Waterfowl Viewing Weekend (March 17-18), the first WOOD DUCKS of the season (two males and two females) arrived on March 10. NORTHERN SHOVELERS may be the next to arrive. WHITE-WINGED SCOTER numbers have been higher in the past few days than at any time this winter. A record early COMMON LOON was heard on March 11. A PIED-BILLED GREBE was in the marsh this afternoon. A GREAT BLUE HERON was seen on March 11.
An anonymous and undocumented report of a BROAD-WINGED HAWK on March 11 would also be a record early date (by over five weeks!) if confirmed.
The first KILLDEER sighting was on March 10, and there have been a few sightings (or hearings) of AMERICAN WOODCOCKS. An ICELAND GULL was on Gull Island on March 12. A BARRED OWL on March 10 and a NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL on March 11 were the only owls in the past week, the SNOWY OWLS having apparently departed.
A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER has been regular at 83 Bayshore Road and nearby. A NORTHERN SHRIKE was still present on March 12. A COMMON RAVEN was heard on March 10. The CAROLINA WREN that has been wintering around 83 Bayshore Road has become much more vocal in recent days. A mixed flock of BOHEMIAN and CEDAR WAXWINGS stopped briefly near the lighthouse on March 13, the first of the former species to appear in the Park all winter. There have been several sightings of the SAVANNAH SPARROW that has spent the winter at Presqu'ile. With spring-like weather dominating this month, birders should be on the lookout for the first FOX SPARROWS. A WHITE-THROATED SPARROW was at 83 Bayshore Road on March 10. BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS put in their first appearance on March 14. Several interesting finch sightings were recorded: PURPLE FINCH, WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL, COMMON REDPOLL, PINE SISKIN.
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.