Birders contemplating a trip to Presqu'ile Provincial Park in the near future should be aware that, while migration is past its peak except for shorebirds and a few late migrating song birds, the month of June has in the past yielded some significant rarities (American Avocet, Franklin's Gull, Sandwich Tern, Chuck-will's-widow).
A lone Brant was present on May 25 and 26. A female Canvasback was in Popham Bay on May 26 and four Lesser Scaup were there on May 25. Five Red-throated Loons were there on May 23 and one on May 26. One observer saw five Great Egrets in one day, and Black-crowned Night-Herons
have been seen on each of the past four days. A Merlin on May 26 was the only raptor of note.
Shorebirds have responded magnificently to the Park's apparent decision to leave the beaches unmanaged for the first time in several years, at least until the migration ends. Some have commented that this year's display has been the best in a long time. The birds have been erratic, appearing in huge numbers for a few hours and then moving on just as quickly. Some of the more remarkable numbers of the past week were about 25 Black-bellied Plovers on May 28, 15 Whimbrel on May 26, perhaps a hundred or more Ruddy Turnstones and at least twice as many Red Knots on May 29, hundreds of Dunlins on May 26, 27, and 29, and 36 Short-billed Dowitchers on May 24. As well, there have been smaller numbers of Semipalmated Plovers, Sanderlings, White-rumped Sandpipers, and other common species. A female Wilson's Phalarope that stayed on the beach for a short while on May 25 was the first of that species at Presqu'ile in a couple of years. An American Woodcock continues to offer views at almost arm's length at the lighthouse.
Common Nighthawks have not yet appeared, but a Chimney Swift flew over the lighthouse on May 24. One cannot differentiate with certainty between migrant and resident birds, but it is safe to say that birds seen at the lighthouse or Owen Point (with a few notable exceptions that are known to breed there) are in the former category, even if they are known to breed elsewhere in the Park. Thus, the Eastern Kingbirds, Blue Jays, and Cedar Waxwings that have been moving past the lighthouse in numbers this week are still in migration, as are Ruby-crowned Kinglets seen in ones and twos up until May 26. The status of the male Eastern Bluebird in the day use area on May 28 is less certain. Another of that species was seen on May 23, but the location was not specified in the report. An American Pipit was on the beach on May 24 and 25. Warblers are still moving through, albeit in fewer numbers and smaller variety, among others: Orange-crowned Warbler, Cape May Warbler, and Palm Warbler each as late as May 24; Louisiana Waterthrush at the lighthouse on May 24; Mourning Warblers here and there. A late Lincoln's Sparrow on May 26, a White-throated Sparrow on May 29, and a record late Dark-eyed Junco on May 28, all at the lighthouse, are considered to be migrants. Orchard Orioles are regular visitors to the feeders at 83 Bayshore Road. Two Pine Siskins showed up at the feeders at 186 Bayshore Road on May 25.
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.