Presqu’ile Bird Report for Week of 8-14 June 2018
Highlights: LESSER SCAUP, RED-THROATED LOON, CATTLE EGRET, SANDHILL CRANE, GREATER YELLOWLEGS, HUDSONIAN GODWIT, OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER.
A few tardy northbound migrants were still around this week, but the vast majority of sightings were of the expected nesting species.
Moult-migrant CANADA GEESE are still being seen heading north, including a group of 150 on 12 Jun. A GADWALL was off Beach 3 on 12 Jun but more unexpected was a lingering male LESSER SCAUP on the same date. WHITE-WINGED SCOTER is a late migrant but 112 in two flocks seen on a glass calm Lake Ontario on 12 Jun was an unexpected number. Three LONG-TAILED DUCKS were also seen off Beach 1 on 12 June.
A RUFFED GROUSE was still drumming on 8 Jun. The glass calm conditions on 12 Jun also produced a breeding-plumaged RED-THROATED LOON off Beach 1.
Both AMERICAN and LEAST BITTERN were seen this week from the Boardwalk and causeway areas. The star attraction, the continuing CATTLE EGRET on Huff Rd. (just NW of the park gate), was seen every day this week but is rarely present early or late in the day. NORTHERN HARRIER has been infrequently seen in the past month but a pair exchanging prey off the causeway on 11 Jun revealed their likely nesting status. A SHARP-SHINNED HAWK was seen near the gate on 12 Jun. VIRGINIA RAIL has been unreported for a few weeks but one calling at the causeway on 12 Jun shows they too are still around, just quiet. Two SANDHILL CRANES were seen in the marsh on 9 and 10 Jun. The continued sightings over the past month leaves one to wonder if this species is nesting undetected somewhere in the extensive wetlands within the Park.
A few northbound migrant shorebirds were still present this week including SEMIPALMATED PLOVER and four RUDDY TURNSTONE on 10 Jun. A GREATER YELLOWLEGS on 8 Jun was quite late. By far the best shorebird was a bright male HUDSONIAN GODWIT, quite rare in spring, seen and photographed by Park staff on High Bluff Island on 7 Jun. A WILSON’S SNIPE was still displaying over the gate area on 12 Jun and four AMERICAN WOODCOCK were heard beeping between Beach 2 and the Marsh Boardwalk Trail at night on 10 Jun, which is odd since the species has been quite in that area since the mid April ice pellet storm.
A ROCK PIGEON was seen along Bayshore Rd on 11 Jun. Two CHIMNEY SWIFTS seen along Bayshore Rd. on 11 and 12 Jun might indicate local nesting, something that has never been documented at Presqu’ile. An OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER seen along Paxton Dr. on 8 Jun is getting late, and was the only migrant passerine reported. It is the impression of several observers that the woods seem disturbingly quiet with almost no song. While many of the expected nesting species are being seen, the numbers encountered seem strangely low. Fledged young SONG and SWAMP SPARROWS were noted – a reminder of how far along in the nesting cycle some species are. Lastly, a male PURPLE FINCH – an uncommon nesting species - was singing in the Fingers on 12 June.
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.