Presqu’ile Bird Report for Week of 27 Apr – 3 May 2018
Highlights this week include SANDHILL CRANE, SANDERLING, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD and SUMMER TANAGER
It was a fun week at Presqu’ile with fairly strong movements on several days and a host of retuning species.
There were moderate eastbound flights of CANADA GEESE on several mornings but in general waterfowl numbers are starting to dwindle, especially among diving ducks, which are much reduced and widely scattered. 100 RING-NECKED DUCKS on 30 Apr was a good count for the date. The first SURF SCOTER was a female with 12 WHITE-WINGED SCOTER off the Lighthouse on 2 May. Up to 350 LONG-TAILED DUCKS were seen and heard calling off the Lighthouse on 3 May and smaller numbers were scattered offshore. BUFFLEHEADS remain common but COMMON GOLDENEYES are much reduced. A female HOODED MERGANSER was off the causeway on 28 Apr.
A RED-NECKED GREBE was swimming offshore from Coot Lookout on 28 Apr. AMERICAN BITTERN was heard on several days but numbers seem very low. Conversely GREAT EGRET put on quite a show with 50 seen on 1 May, most visible at their nesting site on High Bluff Island (which can easily be scoped from Beach 1 early in the morning before heat haze kicks in). 6 BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON were also visible on the Island.
An immature BALD EAGLE, which has become scarce since the ice went out, was seen on 28 Apr. A COMMON GALLINULE was at the Camp Office Marsh on 1 May and SANDHILL CRANE was reported daily in the marsh between 29 Apr and 2 May. Both SPOTTED SANDPIPER and GREATER YELLOWLEGS were seen on 28 Apr. A SANDERLING found on 1 May at Beach 2 has been seen there daily since. BONAPARTE’S GULL seems scarce with only one seen on 28 Apr. An adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was seen at the beach today. A COMMON TERN on 27 Apr was only the second of the year and another was seen today.
A BARRED OWL was heard calling on 29 Apr. The first RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD was seen on 2 May. There have been several sightings of AMERICAN KESTREL in the Calf Pasture this week, a species that has not bred in the park in several decades. The first GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER and EASTERN KINGBIRD were noted on 2 May. Vireos started to show this week with BLUE-HEADED on 1 May and WARBLING arriving on 3 May. COMMON RAVEN was seen several times in the Newcastle Woods and by the Amphitheatre this week. Three HOUSE WRENS were seen on 28 Apr and the species is now common, and the first MARSH WREN was noted on 30 Apr. The first BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER was seen today.
In addition to the numerous HERMIT THRUSHES seen this week, a single WOOD THRUSH was found on 29 Apr and a SWAINSON’S THRUSH was seen on 2 May – both a bit early. The first GRAY CATBIRD was noted on 2 May and a NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD, a rare but annual visitor in spring, stayed briefly at the Lighthouse this morning.
Warblers really brightened the woods up this week with several new arrivals, joining PINE, YELLOW-RUMPED AND PALM WARBLERS that arrived last week. These include the first NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH on 28 Apr, BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER on 29 Apr, NASHVILLE and BLACK-THROATED GREEN on 1 May, YELLOW on 2 May, BLACK-THROATED BLUE and TENNESSEE on 3 May. Next week should see another dozen species arrive.
Two AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS seen on 1 May and a DARK-EYED JUNCO seen on 2 May might be the last until they return next fall. A SONG SPARROW heard along the east end of Bayshore Rd. this morning was consistently singing a strange song that most resembled a Lark Sparrow. WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS are present in some numbers and the overwintering WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW at the Birdhouse Nature Store, just outside the gate, is singing daily.
The undisputed highlight of the week was the first-year male SUMMER TANAGER that spent 10 minutes at the Calf Pasture on 1 May before flying off over the field never to be seen again. This southern overshoot is very rare here with just a handful of previous records. The first ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK was seen on 2 May followed by the first INDIGO BUNTING the next day. A few migrating EASTERN MEADOWLARKS were seen in atypical locations such as the Lighthouse this week, and small numbers of RUSTY BLACKBIRDS (up to 10 on 27 Apr) are being seen, especially near the Lighthouse. BALTIMORE ORIOLES arrived on May 2 and were further augmented this morning. A PURPLE FINCH was heard singing this morning.
Presqu’ile Provincial Park is located on the north shore of Lake Ontario, just south of the town of Brighton. It can be reached from either Hwy. 401 or Cty. Rd. 2 and is well signed. A Park map can be found in the information tabloid available at the Park gate. Presqu’ile’s two offshore islands – Gull and High Bluff – support a large multi-species colonial bird nesting area and access is not permitted during the breeding season.