At Presqu’ile Provincial Park this past week, birds destined for the Arctic and other northern locales arrived with remarkable suddenness and left almost as quickly. Some of those are sufficiently uncommon that birders from elsewhere came to the Park specifically to try to find them. If birders are visiting the Park on Saturday, they might wish to attend the official opening of the refurbished Jobes’ Woods trail at 1:30 p.m.
BRANT were seen on several different occasions, including two flocks numbering about 80 and 35 birds. Two other individuals have been lounging around Sebastopol Island. Two flocks of CANADA GEESE appeared to be in moult migration. Given the late date, the variety of ducks, if not the actual number, has been remarkable and included GADWALL, AMERICAN WIGEON, AMERICAN BLACK DUCK, BLUE-WINGED TEAL, NORTHERN PINTAIL, REDHEAD, and 15-20 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS. LONG-TAILED DUCK numbers dropped off suddenly on the weekend, and one flock of about 100 was seen at dusk on May 25 circling high in the sky over the lighthouse as if planning to head out. A RED-THROATED LOON, perhaps the last of the season, flew past the lighthouse on May 27. There were no further LEAST BITTERN sightings reported this week, but GREAT EGRETS and BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS were seen regularly. On three consecutive days an immature BALD EAGLE was sighted, including one that delighted birders by sitting for an hour or so in a tree by the lighthouse parking lot. Both VIRGINIA RAIL and SORA were found this week.
Most of the attention this week has focused on shorebirds, which, after a lacklustre start to the season and a modest showing on the weekend, descended on the Park by the thousands on Monday before dwindling sharply on the next day. Not only were they crowded from one end of the beach to the other, but even tiny patches of flotsam in the marsh had groups standing shoulder to shoulder on them, and the nearby Brighton constructed wetland was also teeming with them. There were respectable numbers of BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS, up to 8 WHIMBRELS, plenty of RUDDY TURNSTONES, up to 14 RED KNOTS, SANDERLINGS, SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS, and WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS, but the vast majority were DUNLINS. SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS were not only on the beach but also in the marsh. A BONAPARTE’S GULL on May 27 and a GLAUCOUS GULL on May 23 were late. Late May and early June are the periods when all of the ARCTIC TERN records for Presqu’ile have occurred.
Pre-dawn owling on May 27 proved profitable for three keen birders, who heard GREAT HORNED OWL (not in the Park but within earshot of it), two BARRED OWLS, and a NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL. On the same day, the first COMMON NIGHTHAWK of the spring was seen. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS have largely gone quiet but are still showing up periodically at feeders at 83 Bayshore Road. Surprisingly, no one has yet spotted an OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER, but YELLOW-BELLIED, ALDER, and WILLOW FLYCATCHERS have all been seen. A few PHILADELPHIA VIREOS have been passing through, as recently as yesterday. The BLUE JAY migration seems to be almost over. A CLIFF SWALLOW, not often seen this late in the spring, was seen on May 24. A CAROLINA WREN was singing on Bayshore Road earlier in the week and at the lighthouse parking lot this morning. In addition to the BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS that have been frequenting the east end of the Park, one was at the west end as well. A GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH was at the lighthouse on Monday. A NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD was at 54 Bayshore Road on Saturday and at the beach 2 parking lot on Sunday and Tuesday. CEDAR WAXWINGS have been at the lighthouse every day for over a week. There has been a decent warbler migration this week, in which the highlight was two PRAIRIE WARBLERS. Today is the 12th anniversary of a LARK SPARROW sighting. A SAVANNAH SPARROW on a Bayshore Road lawn and LINCOLN’S and SWAMP SPARROWS at the lighthouse were obviously not on breeding territories and were likely still in migration mode. A late WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW was seen on May 22. ORCHARD ORIOLES are present in various parts of the Park.
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.
Birders are encouraged to record their observations on the bird sightings board provided near the campground office by The Friends of Presqu'ile Park and to fill out a rare bird report for species not listed there.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.