Although, according to recent reports, the spring bird migration has slowed almost to a halt in more southerly parts of the province, at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, it is still in full swing. Looking for warblers and other forest birds is more of a challenge now that the leaves are almost fully developed, but the search for horebirds is not so encumbered. The Warblers and Whimbrels weekend started out slowly on Saturday but improved greatly on Sunday. This coming Saturday, participants in the annual Taverner Cup competitive birding event will be making visits to Presqu'ile to bolster their lists with shorebirds and water birds and perhaps a few southern species.
Two Red-throated Loons, probably the last of the spring migrants, were in Popham Bay on May 22 but have not been seen since. On the same day, a Least Bittern and four Great Egrets were found, the former in the marsh and the latter on the beach. Huff Road, just outside the Park, has a pond beside the road in which Great Egrets frequently forage.
A flock of 21 Brant flew past the lighthouse on May 21. On May 27, a very late Tundra Swan was sitting on beach 3 with 3 Mute Swans before swimming off out of sight. There are still a number of ducks in Popham Bay, generally visible from Owen Point, that are normally migrants: Gadwalls, American Wigeons, Redheads, and Long-tailed Ducks.
Merlins can usually be found near their nest in Newcastle Woods, but the Peregrine Falcon seen at the beach on May 21 has not put in a repeat appearance.
Both Virginia Rails and Soras have been heard during the past week, and a Sora actually came into view at the marsh near Owen Point. Eleven species of shorebirds have been seen recently, including 57 Whimbrels on May 22 and 120 on the following day, breaking a pattern of the past few years in which no Whimbrels appeared until after the Park had scheduled an event around their arrival. There have also been a few Black-bellied Plovers, Ruddy Turnstones, and Red Knots and two Short-billed Dowitchers. There is considerable day-to-day variation in the numbers of shorebirds present on the beach and on the offshore islands, where they can be viewed only with a scope. A Forster's Tern was seen at the beach on May 22.
On May 24, a Black-billed Cuckoo called persistently for an hour or so near the lighthouse, and on May 27, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo was tracked for over half an hour as it made its way from the lighthouse to Salt Point, calling tantalizingly from each leafy tree until it could finally be seen well enough to confirm its identity. One of Presqu'ile's elusive Barred Owls put in a rare daytime appearance on May 22. Another species, not generally thought of as elusive or diurnal, Common Nighthawk, has not yet been reported this year, continuing a trend in which they are much scarcer than formerly.
At least one Red-bellied Woodpecker can be seen or heard near the lighthouse almost every morning. Flycatchers have made an excellent showing all week, with eight species having been seen in the Park. Philadelphia Vireos have been seen every day this week. Purple Martins are noisily occupying their traditional apartment houses at 192 Bayshore Road. There was a report of a Sedge Wren in the marsh on May 23.
have been uncharacteristically absent from Presqu'ile in recent weeks, but one was seen at Owen Point on May 23. A few late thrushes (Gray-cheeked, Swainson's, and Wood
) are still stopping in the Park on their migration.
Twenty-five species of warblers were seen at Presqu'ile during the past week. Highlights include Blue-winged, Golden-winged, Orange-crowned,
Cape May, Cerulean, and Mourning. Canada Warblers have been and continue to be unusually plentiful. The trees and shrubs within a kilometre of the lighthouse have been particularly productive of warblers, though their numbers, like those of shorebirds, fluctuate greatly from day to day.
Surprisingly, Scarlet Tanagers have been almost absent this week. A Clay-colored Sparrow reported on May 22 could not be found by several observers who went looking for it. For several days up to and including May 26, a late Lincoln's Sparrow, a White-throated Sparrow, and a White-crowned Sparrow were at the lighthouse. Orchard Orioles have been found in various parts of the Park. The most reliable location seems to be the feeders at 83 Bayshore Road.
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.