Highlights: GREATER SCAUP, CATTLE EGRET, WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER, SNOWY OWL, RED-HEADED WOODPECKER
It’s been a slow week because birds are in the height of breeding and being somewhat secretive, and it seems very few people are out birding. Because Presqu’ile has so many different habitat types it is still possible to see a good variety of breeding species, especially if one gets out early before the heat, so get out birding and report back please.
The only surprise in the waterfowl department was the three lingering GREATER SCAUP seen near the Salt Pt. lighthouse on 22 Jun. LEAST BITTERNS continue to be reported from the Presqu’ile marsh, but the star heron remains the long-staying CATTLE EGRET that was seen daily along Huff Rd. (just NW of park gate). OSPREYS are nesting in Presqu’ile Bay on the small lighthouses off Salt Pt. and Gosport (just east of the park). A male NORTHERN HARRIER with a small mammal in its claws was seen descending to presumed young in the marsh off the causeway on 24 Jun. There were also several widely separated sightings of COOPER’S HAWK.
A WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER in full breeding plumage was at Beach 1 on the evening of 22 Jun. Shorebirds are interesting in that it is possible to see northbound migrants into mid June, yet the first southbound individuals often show up in the last week of June. This bird is right in the middle of that narrow window but is most likely a tardy northbound migrant given the bright plumage and the fact that several other areas are reporting late white-rumps this year.
Although not in the park, there are two SNOWY OWLS nearby that might be of interest to weekend travellers, especially since one is just off Hwy 401 by Trenton. That bird sits on telephone poles by the McDonalds/YMCA just south of the 401 off the Glenn Miller Rd. exit and has been around for more than a week. The other one is near Carrying Place on Cty Rd. 64 about 1 km. west of Fort Kente Rd. and has also been around for some time. Note that the Murray Canal bridge is still out of service so you have to approach this bird from the east. Two BARRED OWLS were seen together in the Park on 23 Jun. A CHIMNEY SWIFT was flying around the gate on 23 Jun.
A RED-HEADED WOODPECKER was seen in the Elmvale campground on 27 Jun, another teasing sighting suggesting they may be nesting here. HAIRY WOODPECKERS were feeding fledged young in Jobes Woods on 28 Jun. A MOURNING WARBLER was heard singing in the woods north of the Jobes Woods parking area, possibly closer to Bayshore Rd. on 28 Jun. A BLACBURNIAN WARBLER was still singing from the large Norway Spruce plantation near the Jobes Woods parking area on 28 Jun. Fledged BALTIMORE ORIOLES were seen by the gate today.
On a somber note, my comment a few weeks ago about how oddly silent the forest birds seem elicited responses from a number of skilled birders who are finding the same thing in their areas.
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.