In many respects, mid-May represents the peak of the birding year at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, and the past week has been true to form. Although plenty of birds have been seen every day, some days have been better than others. After Tuesday's overnight rain, a fallout of warblers and other passerine birds occurred at the lighthouse, providing great views as the birds foraged low in the shrubbery. Perhaps visitors to the Warblers and Whimbrels celebration this coming weekend will have similar opportunities. If the weather permits, the bird banding operation on Saturday and Sunday mornings near the Owen Point Trail parking lot will allow people to have some close-up views of birds in the hand.
Brant have been seen every day since May 13. Late Common Goldeneyes were seen on May 12 and 14. Only one Ruddy Duck was left on May 13 of the flock that had been present since mid-March, and recent searches have not located any. No Red-throated Loons have been reported since that date either.
Green Herons were seen on two different dates, and a Black-crowned Night-Heron
was at the calf pasture on May 14. An Osprey seen in the Park on May 11 may have been one of the birds that are nesting on the opposite side of Presqu'ile Bay. Soras were encountered on each of the past two days. While scanning for American Bitterns on the morning of May 11, two birders were surprised to observe a Sandhill Crane standing in the marsh.
Shorebirds have begun to appear along the beach and on the offshore islands. Among others, there have been up to five Black-bellied Plovers, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, and several Ruddy Turnstones. Despite the advance billing provided by the Warblers and Whimbrels title, it seems a few days early for the first Whimbrels to appear. Both Wilson's Snipe and American Woodcock were found on May 14. Two Black Terns were at the woodpile marsh on May 16.
Usually cuckoos return to Presqu'ile before Common Nighthawks, but this year three of the latter were seen over 83 Bayshore Road on May 15, though none of the former have yet been seen. A Red-headed Woodpecker was at the lighthouse on May 14, and Red-bellied Woodpeckers have been seen there and elsewhere almost every day. Several early flycatchers appeared on May 16, one each of Olive-sided Flycatcher, Alder Flycatcher, and Willow Flycatcher. An unprecedented six species of vireos were present on May 16, including a rare White-eyed Vireo that had first been found two days earlier, a Yellow-throated Vireo, and a Philadelphia Vireo. A flock of 27 Blue Jays migrated over the lighthouse on May 15, just before the storm. For the second consecutive week, a Common Raven was seen in the eastern part of the Park, this one on May 17. The previously reported Carolina Wren was still heard on May 11 and 12 and might still be present in the area between the Park store and the bird sightings board. Marsh Wrens are vocal in the marsh these days. Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers
have built a nest along Paxton Drive. Thrushes of various species have been numerous this week, but no Gray-cheeked Thrush has yet been reported.
It has not been too difficult for a keen observer to find twenty species of warblers in a day during the past week. Indeed one observer achieved or surpassed that goal on three consecutive days. Twenty-seven species in total were recorded at Presqu'ile in the past seven days, and 28 for the season. Among the recent highlights were Blue-winged Warbler, Golden-winged Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, and Mourning Warbler.
Scarlet Tanagers have been seen daily and might be as much of an attraction as the warblers for those who will be visiting the Park this weekend expecting to see colourful birds. Not as colourful are the sparrows, of which a Clay-colored Sparrow, Field Sparrows, a Savannah Sparrow, and several Lincoln's Sparrows have been seen in the past week. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Indigo Buntings, and Orchard Orioles have been plentiful and will likely remain so for a few more days.
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.