On April 26 (last Saturday) there was a surge of birds arriving at Presqu'ile Provincial Park that included several species that do not normally return until early May. The residue of that influx, along with a few other surprises, has kept birding interesting throughout this week. The unsettled weather of the next few days might bring on another wave of migrants.
While waterfowl have not totally disappeared, their numbers are such that the migration is essentially over. As an example, Common Goldeneyes, present in the hundreds through the winter, are now difficult to find. Sightings of Red-throated Loons have also dwindled to one or two in the past week. Only the flocks of Brant that pass through Presqu'ile in early to mid-May have yet to be recorded. Great Egrets are now a daily sighting, with as many as five visible on High Bluff Island, where they nest.
The beach has been the scene of exciting finds this week. Four Turkey Vultures were consuming some kind of carrion along the shore. The first Spotted Sandpiper arrived on April 25, and Dunlins were there on April 26 and 29. On the latter date, they were accompanied by a rare find, one of the few Western Sandpipers known to have been found in spring in Ontario. A Wilson's Snipe was again heard winnowing in that area. Dare we hope for a repetition of the events of May 4, 1984, when a Lesser Sand-Plover
(then known as Mongolian Plover), Five Willets, and a Baird's Sandpiper showed up?
In the interlude between the waterfowl migration and the shorebird migration, for both of which Presqu'ile is noted, attention has shifted to land birds. A Chimney Swift flew over on April 26 and a Ruby-throated Hummingbird has been at the feeder at 83 Bayshore Road since April 27. Both of those observations may be the earliest on record for the Park. Whip-poor-wills may also be present but are not likely to be found unless one goes out after dusk or before dawn. Red-bellied Woodpeckers are infrequently seen but frequently heard in the eastern part of the peninsula. A pair of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers were seen excavating what appeared to be a nest hole. That species is not known to have nested at Presqu'ile in the past. Two new flycatcher arrivals were also early: a Least Flycatcher on April 26 and an Eastern Kingbird on April 29. The only two vireo species seen this week were Blue-headed Vireos and an early Warbling Vireo on April 27. Two Common Ravens made a noisy pass over the east end of the Park on April 27, renewing questions as to where they are living. All six of the usual swallows have been found in the past few days. A Tufted Titmouse, the second this spring, was around the lighthouse on April 30, but the Carolina Wren that has been singing for weeks has either gone quiet or moved on. One or two Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers
have been around on most days. One wonders why no American Pipits have yet been recorded.
Finally, the /piece de resistance/ for spring birders, the wood warblers, have been making a good showing. Eight species, including a record early Blue-winged Warbler, were discovered on April 26, and two additional species (Black-throated Blue Warbler and Blackburnian Warbler) were found on May 1. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were seen by several observers on May 1. A Bobolink, perhaps a record early arrival, was seen on April 26, the same day that Baltimore Orioles (also a probable record early date) first appeared. A Rusty Blackbird was seen on Paxton Drive today. The feeders at 83 Bayshore Road hosted two Pine Siskins on May 1 and an Evening Grosbeak on April 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.