All of the expected bird species that migrate to or through Presqu'ile Provincial Park in spring have now returned, and only the unexpected can be added to the list of spring migrants in the Park in 2007. That is not to say, however, that the migration is over, for there are still a few land birds moving through the Park that will not be staying over the summer, and a good many water birds and shorebirds are also present. Among summering birds, attention this week has shifted to the marsh, where interesting sightings have occurred.
The moult migration of Canada Geese, which got under way on May 24, has been steady throughout the week, as flock after flock has honked its way northward towards Hudson Bay, where the birds will remain during their moult. Wood Ducks have been found in the more remote parts of the marsh this week. A small group of American Wigeons (five on May 29) has been frequenting the waters around Gull and Sebastopol Islands. In the inner part of Presqu'ile Bay, on May 30 there were a male and female Greater Scaup, a male Lesser Scaup, a male and female Bufflehead, and a male Common Goldeneye, all of which are uncommon this late in the season, and a male and female Common Goldeneye were near Sebastopol Island on the following day. A large flock of White-winged Scoters and a few Long-tailed Ducks were off the lighthouse on May 31. Five Common Loons were in Presqu'ile Bay on May 30.
A birder paddling through the marsh found four Least Bitterns on May 30, and three were there the next evening. A Black-crowned Night-Heron
flew over Presqu'ile Bay, one of very few that have been seen this spring compared to previous years.
A Turkey Vulture over Paxton Drive on May 28 and a Peregrine Falcon at Gull Island on May 26 were the only two noteworthy raptor sightings in the past week.
A Virginia Rail was found near Owen Point, where the species has bred in recent years. Black-bellied Plovers have been present off and on in small numbers at the beach and on the offshore islands all week. A Park employee gave a good description of a shorebird that he had observed on the beach on May 30 that fitted the description of a Willet, but the bird did not remain for its identity to be verified. A lone Whimbrel was on the beach on May 25, and nine more flew past on May 28 but continued on without landing. Small numbers of Ruddy Turnstones and Sanderlings are still present, but the vast majority of the shorebirds are now Semipalmated Sandpipers. A Red Knot was seen again twice in the past week, most recently on May 28. While there were hundreds of Dunlins less than a week ago, only a few are left. A Wilson's Snipe was heard on May 31 and American Woodcocks, a remarkable eight individuals, were displaying on May 26. Two birders had flushed one near Owen Point on the preceding day.
Four Bonaparte's Gulls were at Owen Point on May 25, and a Lesser Black-backed Gull was there on the next day. Until a decade ago, Black Terns were a common nesting bird in the marsh, but since then the species has been rare at Presqu'ile. Thus it was a pleasant surprise when a birder found an active Black Tern's nest while kayaking through the outer reaches of the marsh
Both Black-billed Cuckoo and Yellow-billed Cuckoo were found on May 29. A Chimney Swift flew over on May 28. Red-bellied Woodpeckers are regularly calling in the eastern end of the Park in the early mornings. Nine species of flycatchers were seen at Presqu'ile in the past week, including seven on one day. Both Olive-sided Flycatcher and Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, typically late migrants were among them. A Ruby-crowned Kinglet on May 26 appears to be a late record for the Park. A Gray-cheeked Thrush spent several days on a lawn at 186 Bayshore Road. Most of the warblers seen this week are those that generally occur late in May, albeit in reduced numbers, but a Yellow-rumped Warbler on May 29 near the lighthouse was an unexpected late migrant. A Lincoln's Sparrow on May 25 was another unusually late bird. Orchard Orioles continue to be seen in good numbers.
For anyone interested, a Monarch Butterfly was at the calf pasture on May 29.
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.