Not a day goes by at this time of year in Presqu'ile Provincial Park without new arrivals in the bird world. Many of them are more colourful than those which arrived earlier, such as grackles and cowbirds, the bane of those who are feeding birds. Those colourful birds are the ones that bring out the fair-weather birders, but, as usual, there are enough uncommon birds among them to satisfy the hard-core birders as well.
Not all of the Red-throated Loons have left Popham Bay, and the few that remain are in breeding plumage and somewhat more difficult to spot without the gleaming white front of their basic winter plumage. A Least Bittern was calling in the marsh on May 3. Great Egrets fly to and fro between High Bluff Island, where they nest, and the mainland, where they feed in the marsh.
Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, and Northern Goshawk were all seen this week and may well be nesting somewhere in the Park. Merlins were seen on three days this week and a Peregrine Falcon perched on High Bluff Island was identified through a scope. Two Virginia Rails were found on May 5. Shorebirds have begun to trickle in to Presqu'ile, with eight species recorded this month. An early Short-billed Dowitcher on the beach and an American Woodcock photographed at the lighthouse, both on May 7, were of interest, as was a Lesser Black-backed Gull on the beach on May 3. Since Black Terns nested in the marsh last year (for the first time in many years), they should be watched for in the coming week.
A Black-billed Cuckoo, identified by a single call on May 2 at the calf pasture, would be a record early date if it could have been confirmed. Single Barred Owls were found in two different parts of the Park. Red-bellied Woodpeckers are appearing in three different parts of the Park, but most frequently near the lighthouse and along Newcastle trail. Red-headed Woodpeckers were seen twice this week. Again this week, two Common Ravens were flying about calling one morning.
Three Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers
were seen on May 5. Among the 24 species of warblers found in the past week, there were a few that border on rarity. Several Blue-winged Warblers and a single Golden-winged Warbler have been seen in the past few days. Early Tennessee Warblers and a record early Orange-crowned Warbler on May 6 were also of interest. Within the seasonal norms were Northern Parulas, Cape May Warblers, and Cerulean Warblers, among others. The two red-letter days for warblers were May 3 and 4, when a Hooded Warbler and a Louisiana Waterthrush were found on those days respectively.
A few Scarlet Tanagers have arrived, and more are expected soon. There is always the possibility of a Summer Tanager, a species that has not been seen here for over four years. A very late American Tree Sparrow was found on May 7, and a rather early Clay-colored Sparrow was at the calf pasture two days earlier. A Vesper Sparrow was also at the calf pasture on May 4. The first Lincoln's Sparrows arrived on May 8. A rather late Dark-eyed Junco was still around on May 5. A few Rusty Blackbirds and Orchard Orioles have been present in recent days. Two Pine Siskins at 83 Bayshore Road late last week were the only two of that species recorded at Presqu'ile this year.
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.