For those who are interested in seeing colourful birds from warblers up to grosbeaks and orioles, Presqu'ile Provincial Park is again living up to its reputation as an excellent place to find them without too much difficulty. That, together with the variety of bird life (at least 124 species in the past week), is attracting more and more birders to the Park every day.
Perhaps because of choppy water, Red-throated Loons have been difficult to find this week, but six were still in Popham Bay on April 30 (as well as one Horned Grebe) and one on May 3. Five species of herons were found in the Park during the past week, including Great Egret and Green Heron. Perhaps as a result of boat traffic in Presqu'ile Bay, there was a final exodus between April 29 and 30 of most of the ducks in that area. Gadwalls and American Wigeons, numbering 7 and 35 respectively on April 29, were gone by the following day, as was the lingering drake Canvasback. However, a group of six Northern Pintails in Popham Bay on April 30 was a surprise. A few dozen Green-winged Teal were present in Popham Bay a week ago but now seem to be all gone. Redheads, Ring-necked Ducks, and Lesser Scaup are now the most numerous species in Presqu'ile Bay.
Northern Harriers were seen on five of the last seven days. A Merlin acted as if it might be seeking out a nest site. The first Sora of the year has been calling from the reeds in the little marsh behind Owen Point. A trickle of new shorebirds has been passing through the Park: Greater Yellowlegs on May 2 (two birds in the pannes) and May 4 (four birds at Owen Point); a Willet on May 2 (perhaps the earliest date on record at Presqu'ile); Spotted Sandpipers on May 1 and 4; two Dunlins on May 1 and 3. It is difficult to predict which shorebirds will be the next to return, but Semipalmated Plovers and Least Sandpipers are among the candidates. It is tempting, on this 22nd anniversary of the appearance at Presqu'ile of Canada's first Lesser Sand-Plover
(then known as Mongolian Plover), to hope that that species might again show up. An American Woodcock strutted across the main Park road at mid-day on May 1, quite oblivious to passing cars. On the weekend, hundreds of Bonaparte's Gulls were gathered at Owen Point, only to have since disappeared except for one or two individuals. Also on the weekend, Common Terns put in their first appearance.
After a Whip-poor-will was heard not far from Presqu'ile on May 1, another was calling in the Park early in the morning of May 3. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have been visiting feeders on Bayshore Road since May 1. A Red-bellied Woodpecker was present at the lighthouse for much of the morning on May 4. Four species of flycatchers have appeared this week, including Least Flycatcher (first noted on May 1) and Great Crested Flycatcher and Eastern Kingbird (both first noted on May 2). For much of this week, there has been a significant early morning reverse migration of Blue Jays and Black-capped Chickadees. A Carolina Wren was present for two days near the lighthouse. Several Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers
have been sighted. Five species of thrushes have been reported in the past week, including an Eastern Bluebird on April 29. Swainson's Thrushes should be appearing soon. Unusually large numbers of Brown Thrashers have been reported by several observers, especially on May 1, when one observer counted eight.
Fifteen species of warblers have made for exciting birding in the past few days, with two birders reporting twelve species each, one on May 3 and one on May 4. The highlights have been Blue-winged Warblers and Golden-winged Warblers on both of the last two days. The latter species had not previously been seen this early in May, according to Birds of Presqu'ile Provincial Park
(1993). A Clay-colored Sparrow near the lighthouse on May 4 also appears to be a record early date. Lincoln's Sparrows were in three different parts of the Park on May 3. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Orchard Orioles, and Baltimore Orioles have been pleasing feeder watchers and appearing at the lighthouse and elsewhere for several days. The first Bobolink to migrate past the lighthouse was seen on April 30, and on the same date a Pine Siskin visited a feeder at 83 Bayshore Road. A male House Sparrow was seen at 187 Bayshore Road on May 2.
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.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.