Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

2016 Waterfowl Migration Presqu’ile

The 2016 Waterfowl Migration at Presqu’ile Provincial Park

During the spring migration, tens of thousands of swans, geese and ducks stop in the sheltered areas of Presqu’ile Provincial Park to rest and feed before moving on to nesting grounds further north and west.  Eight MVFN birders set out early on Saturday morning, March 19, 2016 to Presqu’ile Provincial Park to experience the annual waterfowl migration.  Our leader, Cliff Bennett, set a goal of 45 species, but some of us looked rather dubiously around Lanark County with its patchy snow and frozen lakes thinking that this time he really has set the bar too high.

When we arrived in Presqui’ile Park, however, we found it bright and sunny with the ice all but melted and the snow gone.   While this made for a warmer day down on Lake Ontario than on previous MVFN trips, the birding for waterfowl was more challenging as they were far out in the bay areas.  The spotting scopes were very useful for good sightings.

The Park was busier this year than on previous trips too, since it was the 40th Anniversary of Presqu’ile’s Waterfowl Weekend.  This event is hosted by the Park’s staff and the Friends of Presqu’ile Provincial Park volunteers who had set up feeders for the land birds and spotting scopes at prominent viewing stations.  They kindly provided information on what birds could be seen for novice birders and the children.

One memorable favourite was to see the Long-tailed Ducks.  This particular duck usually bypasses the Ottawa region as it migrates to Northern Canada and the Arctic.  Another exceptional sighting was thousands of ducks (mainly redheads) taking to the skies as we watched in awe. Closer to the shores were many Mute Swans gracefully swimming and preening themselves for a photo.  On the island from Owen Point we were delighted to see a Snowy Owl and a Great Black-backed Gull among the many hundreds of other birds.

IMG_5807 Mary and Anita inside a blind

Mary Robinson and Anita Payne in a bird blind. Photo by Howard Robinson.

At the end of the day, our group tally for the number of species seen in the Park and en route included 46 species.  So we even managed to surpass Cliff’s goal, thanks to the sharp eyes of the expert birders in our group.  The list of species seen on the day follows.  Afterwards, Pete Blancher reported that only one bird was flagged by eBird as seasonally rare – and that was the Double-crested Cormorant which was apparently about a week early for the area.

L-R: David Hinks, Mary and Howard Robinson, Cliff Bennett, Brenda Boyd, Anita Payne, Linda McCormick and Peter Blancher. Photo Howard Robinson

L-R: David Hinks, Mary and Howard Robinson, Cliff Bennett, Brenda Boyd, Anita Payne, Linda McCormick and Peter Blancher

Species Seen En Route and at Presqu’ile Provincial Park

  1. American Crow
  2. European Starling
  3. Canada Goose
  4. American Robin
  5. Red-winged Blackbird
  6. Rock Pigeon
  7. American Tree Sparrow
  8. Blue Jay
  9. Northern Cardinal
  10. Wild Turkey
  11. Ring-billed Gull
  12. Red-Tailed Hawk
  13. Bald Eagle
  14. Common Goldeneye
  15. Mallard
  16. Common Raven
  17. Mourning Dove
  18. Common Grackle
  19. Turkey Vulture
  20. Black-capped Chickadee
  21. American Wigeon
  22. Redhead
  23. Bufflehead
  24. Ring-necked Duck
  25. Mute Swan
  26. Downy Woodpecker
  27. Pied-billed Grebe
  28. Common Merganser
  29. Long-tailed Duck
  30. Herring Gull
  31. Song Sparrow
  32. White-breasted Nuthatch
  33. House Sparrow
  34. House Finch
  35. American Goldfinch
  36. Canvasback
  37. Greater Scaup
  38. Brown Creeper
  39. Hairy Woodpecker
  40. Snowy Owl
  41. Greater Black-backed Gull
  42. American Black Duck
  43. Double-crested Cormorant
  44. Cooper’s Hawk
  45. Sharp-shinned Hawk
  46. American Kestrel

– submitted by Howard and Mary Robinson