When several experienced birders spend the weekend at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, as happened this past week, the results make for such a wealth of sightings that winnowing them down to a report becomes a welcome challenge. As part of the forthcoming Migrants and Monarchs weekend, there will be bird banding at the lighthouse and a guided walk for those needing assistance with bird identification.
Another challenge is for even expert birders to correctly identify a swan with a black bill that remains at a considerable distance. First noticed on Saturday off Gull Island, the bird was still there yesterday. Whether it is a TRUMPETER SWAN or a TUNDRA SWAN depends on whom you ask. In addition to the REDHEADS and GREATER SCAUP that have been in Popham Bay in recent weeks and were still there yesterday, a WHITE-WINGED SCOTER was there on Sunday and yesterday. RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS were off Owen Point on two different days. A RED-NECKED GREBE has been in the cove at the calf pasture.
A YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO, the first of the season, was at the lighthouse on Saturday, and BLACK-BILLED CUCKOOS were seen on two different days. Two COMMON NIGHTHAWKS were at the calf pasture on Saturday and Sunday and another was over the marsh yesterday evening. Early on Sunday morning a birder in a tent heard a few brief calls from an EASTERN WHIP-POOR-WILL, and one was photographed on a Park road at 10 p.m. yesterday.
A COMMON GALLINULE was in the marsh on Sunday. Shorebirds remained in abundance until the beginning of this week but have dwindled in number somewhat in the past few days. Two AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS landed briefly on the beach on Sunday. Two WHIMBRELS were calling while flying over "the fingers" this morning and one was visible. There was a second-hand report of 15 flying past the government dock on Friday or Saturday. Another observer reported seeing a HUDSONIAN GODWIT. However, a MARBLED GODWIT on the beach on Friday evening was found by two of the aforementioned visiting birders and seen by several local birders who rushed to the scene. Two of the RUDDY TURNSTONES that were present on Thursday were still there on Friday, and a single RED KNOT was still present on Monday. The most recent sighting of a STILT SANDPIPER was on Sunday. DUNLINS were seen on Sunday and Monday, and several BAIRD'S SANDPIPERS and WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS were on the beach on most days. The BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER that dropped in on Monday morning has not been found since. Both WILSON'S SNIPE and AMERICAN WOODCOCK were seen this week. Twice this week single SPOTTED SANDPIPERS were seen, while most of their kin left over two weeks ago. Reports of WILLET and WILSON'S PHALAROPE have not been confirmed. A late COMMON TERN flew past the beach on Friday. While GREAT EGRETS were still present in good numbers late last week, most of them have now dispersed. GREEN HERONS and BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS were also seen.
There have been a few days with minor hawk flights this week. Among others, there have been several TURKEY VULTURES, a BALD EAGLE, NORTHERN HARRIERS, SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS, COOPER'S HAWKS, and three BROAD-WINGED HAWKS. Some BLUE JAYS drew attention to a BARRED OWL in Newcastle woods. Seven species of woodpecker were seen this week, including six in one day by a pair of birders who found two adult and one juvenile RED-HEADED WOODPECKER in Newcastle woods, close to where one was found a few days earlier. Both AMERICAN KESTREL and MERLIN have been seen this week.
Flycatchers are still plentiful, though no one has found any THICK-BILLED KINGBIRDS like the one that was here five years ago this week or any of the other rare western and southern flycatchers that periodically appear in the east at this time of year. However, there were sightings of OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHERS, YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHERS, ALDER FLYCATCHER, and others. Three PHILADELPHIA VIREOS and two COMMON RAVENS were found, and more RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES than usual. WOOD THRUSHES were found twice. The first AMERICAN PIPIT of the season landed on the beach on Sunday. Warblers continue to be plentiful. Highlights were a BLUE-WINGED WARBLER at the lighthouse, an early ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER along Atkins Lane, a CERULEAN WARBLER at the lighthouse, a rather late YELLOW WARBLER, and a singing PINE WARBLER in "the fingers". A SAVANNAH SPARROW seen on Sunday was unusual for this time of year. Eight BOBOLINKS wer flying over the north end 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.