Presqu’ile Bird Report for the Week of 15-21 June 2018
By Doug McRae
Highlights: LESSER SCAUP, WHITE-WINGED SCOTER, LONG-TAILED DUCK, CATTLE EGRET, BROAD-WINGED HAWK, MAGNOLIA WARBLER
It was a quiet week at Presqu’ile, partly due to very limited coverage by birders. We are now in the core period of the breeding season and most observations pertain to breeding birds, although flocking grackles in the marsh at dusk may represent post-breeding gatherings or, in other words, the beginning of fall migration.
The plague of MUTE SWANS at Presqu’ile is obvious as broods can be seen everywhere in the marsh and Presqu’ile Bay, and numbers of non-breeding birds are increasing, especially around Gull Is. where 125 were seen on 20 Jun. Twelve WOOD DUCKS in the Camp Office marsh on 20 Jun was a high count for one spot. Six GADWALL were seen flying around High Bluff Is. on 20 Jun and two were off the beach the same day. A lingering LESSER SCAUP was seen at Salt Pt. on 15 Jun followed by two the next day and again on 20 Jun. Another glass calm day on 20 Jun revealed 57 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS far offshore from the beach. It’s getting very late for migrants but its also hard to believe that a large group like this is going to spend the summer. Eight LONG-TAILED DUCKS were seen on 20 Jun off the Woodpile marsh, as well as three first year COMMON LOONS.
Four LEAST BITTERN were seen from the Marsh Boardwalk Trail on 16 Jun. Two GREAT BLUE HERON were feeding with 8 GREAT EGRETS along the natural beach in the early morning on 20 Jun. The long-staying CATTLE EGRET was seen along Huff Rd. (just NW of the park gate) on 15, 16 and 17 Jun but apparently not since. Birders should keep an eye out anyway as the grass in the pasture is long making it harder to see. A GREEN HERON was at the Calf Pasture Cove on 20 Jun.
The only unusual raptor reported was an adult BROAD-WINGED HAWK seen over Bayshore Rd. on 16 Jun. This species is not known to currently breed in the park. For the first time in weeks the only shorebirds reported were the expected breeding species but if tradition holds, the first fall migrants could show up by next week so keep checking the beach!
Two NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOWS near the gate on 19 Jun are the first seen at that site in weeks. Most of the expected breeding warblers were noted this week but a MAGNOLIA WARBLER singing from a Norway Spruce plantation near the campground on 16 Jun was a surprise. This species has summered a few times before in mature conifer plantations and, although suspected, breeding has never been confirmed. Finally a loose group of 60 COMMON GRACKLES was noted flying into the marsh at dusk on 19 Jun in what is likely the beginning of “fall” roosting/migration behavior.
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.