Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley
Mississippi River at Pakenham

MVFN 2017 Birding Trip to Presqu’ile Provincial Park

by Mary Robinson

Even though the forecast was bleak and calling for weather “good for ducks”, nine avid MVFN birders set out early Saturday morning, March 25, 2017 to Presqu’ile Provincial Park for the annual Waterfowl Weekend.  Fortunately, the late forecast changed, and except for a brief drizzle the weather cooperated wonderfully.

Migrating ducks and geese need time to rest and feed in the sheltered areas of the Park before they move on to more northern and western nesting grounds, while Mute Swans tend to breed in the Presqu’ile area.  Since most of the ice is now gone from Lake Ontario, the birds were sometimes far from shore and the four spotting scopes on the trip were very much in use.  Howard Robinson, our group leader, ensured that we had sufficient time in each of the nine favourite viewing stations, including time for a lunch break at the Lighthouse on Presqu’ile Point.

photo Howard Robinson

Returning from Owen Point. photo Howard Robinson

There are ducks out there! photo Howard Robinson

There are ducks out there! photo Howard Robinson

Approximately 1,300 Redheads were the most prevalent duck of the day, with about 260 Ring-necked Ducks and 200 Greater Scaup being the next most common duck sightings.  Aptly-named Gull Island, off Owen Point, was home to approximately 400 Ring-billed Gulls and 150 Herring Gulls.   A Downy Woodpecker, frozen in place for well over a minute on the side of a bird-feeder was an unusual sight for most of us, but it is known behaviour for this species when there is a predator about.  Excellent views of a mature Bald Eagle hunting low over the water at the Calf Pasture impressed us all.  Sure signs of spring were the song of a Song Sparrow, and the sighting of a Turkey Vulture soaring low over the town of Brighton.  Other highlights included Green-winged Teals, Long-tailed Ducks, one Great Black-backed Gull, and a raft of mixed ducks “escorting” a single Mute Swan, although in total we saw 32 Mute Swans.

Spot the difference. photo Howard Robinson

Spot the difference. photo Howard Robinson

Escort of a Mute Swan. Photo Howard Robinson

Escort of a Mute Swan. Photo Howard Robinson

Redheads with Lesser Scaup. Photo Howard Robinson

Redheads with Lesser Scaup. Photo Howard Robinson

At the end of the day, the total number of species seen collectively by the group was forty-seven, as listed below.  Some of us spotted birds on the car trip to and from Presqu’ile, but only those species exceptional to the Park are noted separately.  All in all, it was an excellent outing and well worth the trip, especially if one wants to hone  identification skills and knowledge of waterfowl.  Special thanks to Peter Blancher and Michel Gauthier for their expertise and advice with the species list.

Presqu’ile Provincial Park/nearby viewing stations

1    American Black Duck
2    American Crow
3    American Robin
4    American Wigeon
5    Bald Eagle
6    Black-capped Chickadee
7    Blue Jay
8    Bufflehead
9    Canada Goose
10  Canvasback
11  Common Goldeneye
12  Common Grackle
13  Common Merganser
14  Downy Woodpecker
15  Great Black-backed Gull
16  Great Blue Heron
17  Greater Scaup
18  Green-winged Teal
19  Hairy Woodpecker
20  Herring Gull
21  Hooded Merganser
22  House Sparrow
23  Lesser Scaup
24  Long-tailed duck
25  Mallard
26  Mourning Dove
27  Mute Swan
28  Northern Cardinal
29  Red-breasted Merganser
30  Red-breasted Nuthatch
31  Redhead
32  Red-winged Blackbird
33  Ring-billed Gull
34  Ring-necked Duck
35  Song Sparrow
36  White-breasted Nuthatch
37  White-winged Scoter
38  Wood Duck

En-route (to and from Brighton, ON)

39  American Kestrel

40  American Goldfinch

41  Common Raven

42  European Starling

43  Red-tailed Hawk

44  Rock pigeon

45  Rough-legged Hawk

46  Turkey Vulture

47  Wild Turkey

A managed wetland bird shelter. photo Howard Robinson

A managed wetland bird shelter. photo Howard Robinson

Inside the shelter at Brighton. photo Howard Robinson

Inside the shelter at Brighton. photo Howard Robinson

 

 

 

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FULL-SIZED  CALENDAR WITH DETAILS

MVFN natural history talks:  7:30 pm on third Thursdays of Jan, Feb, March, April,  Sept, Oct, and Nov at Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin St. Almonte ON. All welcome! Non-members $5. 

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