There has been a slow but steady movement of normal May arrivals at Presqu'ile Provincial Park in the past week. Soon there is bound to be a day when warblers and other colourful migrants are swarming everywhere. Meanwhile, visits to the beach and Owen Point are becoming more fruitful. By this time next week, the first of the flocks of Brant that pass this part of Lake Ontario will have arrived.
While most of the Mute Swans have dispersed to the wetlands where they nest, there are still close to sixty apparently unmated individuals in Presqu'ile Bay. On several occasions this week, observers have been treated to the odd spectacle of Wood Ducks, both male and female, perched high in deciduous trees. Although the Green-winged Teal flock in Popham Bay seems to have disappeared, a Blue-winged Teal, one of very few seen in the Park this year, flew over the marsh. A drake Northern Pintail was far out in Popham Bay on the rather late date of May 2.
There have been a few sightings of White-winged Scoters this week, and Common Goldeneyes are still present in small numbers, as are Red-throated Loons.
The marsh boardwalk, finally open to the public after several years of frustration for birders wanting better access to the marsh, is a good place to look for American Bitterns, and Least Bitterns should be appearing soon. When not on their nests on the offshore islands, Great Egrets and Black-crowned Night-Herons can also be seen there, either foraging or flying over. A Green Heron was seen on May 2. Northern Harriers are likely nesting there. Other raptors seen in the past week include a Cooper's Hawk and, on both May 3 and May 4, single Broad-winged Hawks flew overhead. That species is rare at Presqu'ile. A Merlin and a Peregrine Falcon were seen on May 2 and another Peregrine Falcon flew over the marsh on May 3. Two Great Horned Owls were calling to each other across the marsh from the new viewing tower.
Single Wild Turkeys were seen along the road inside the Park gate on two consecutive days. Both Virginia Rails and a Sora have been found along the marsh boardwalk. The former has become a regular at the new viewing tower, where Yellow Rails have been detected at this season in recent years. Seven species of shorebirds were found in the past week.
Semipalmated Plovers first arrived on May 4. A lone Greater Yellowlegs, also the first of the season, was on the beach on May 5. A Sanderling accompanied two Dunlins there on May 1 and 2. Wilson's Snipe, formerly common in "the pannes", have been back there several times in the past week.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers and Pileated Woodpeckers are found regularly at various locations in the Park. There was an unconfirmed and anonymous report of a Willow Flycatcher at the lighthouse on May 4, two days earlier than the previous early record. A late Golden-crowned Kinglet was reported from there two days later. Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers are a regular feature in the Park these days. The first Veery of the season appeared on May 3. A Northern Mockingbird, the second of the year, was at 83 Bayshore Road briefly on May 5. The first American Pipit of the season was at Owen Point on May 6 and 7. The variety of warblers has not yet lived up to expectations. A small number of Northern Parulas and, on May 5, a Magnolia Warbler were the nearest thing to a highlight. A late Dark-eyed Junco was spotted on May 3. Orchard Orioles are being seen with increasing frequency. Pine Siskins, albeit in reduced numbers, are still patronizing local feeders.
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.Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA