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Birding Report

When people start asking, "What birds are still to arrive back at Presqu'ile Provincial Park?" it is time to anticipate the wind-down of the spring migration. That certainly had not taken place last weekend, when a rush of new arrivals appeared on Friday (as it did in many other locations in southern Ontario) as well as on Saturday and, to a lesser extent on Sunday. Since then, the lack of migrants forced birders to focus on nesting birds, until today, which saw another new batch of arrivals.

Among the migrants passing the Park were several flocks of BRANT between May 15 and 18, including one flock of about 200. A NORTHERN SHOVELER was off Owen Point on May 17, and REDHEADS are there every day, as well as in the marsh. A late RING-NECKED DUCK was seen on May 16. The first HARLEQUIN DUCK in many months was present for much of May 14 but has not been seen since. WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS often move through here in late May, and two flocks did so on May 17. COMMON GOLDENEYES were still around Sebastopol Island on May 17. A late HORNED GREBE was in Popham Bay on May 16 - 18.

A LEAST BITTERN was seen on May 15. GREAT EGRETS continue to be seen every day. GREEN HERONS were seen on May 16 and 18. On May 15, raptors seen included a COOPER'S HAWK, a MERLIN, and another falcon that was variously identified as a MERLIN, a PEREGRINE FALCON, and "one or the other".

Some interesting shorebirds showed up this week, but the large numbers that often occur at Presqu'ile in spring have not yet materialized. The two PIPING PLOVERS found on May 13 were seen again on May 14 but not since then. Their coloured leg bands indicate that they had originated in Michigan. Both GREATER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS appeared briefly at Owen Point. A SOLITARY SANDPIPER was on the beach on May 14, an unusual location for that species. Up to four RUDDY TURNSTONES, two SANDERLINGS, two SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS, and twelve SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS were among the other shorebirds in the past few days. An AMERICAN WOODCOCK sat on the trail in front of two observers. At least two people were lucky enough to spot a WILSON'S PHALAROPE among the yellowlegs on May 17. Normally only two species of terns can be found at Presqu'ile, but between now and the end of the month the possibility exists of finding any of three other, albeit rare, terns: ARCTIC, FORSTER'S, and BLACK TERNS have all been seen in previous years at that time.

Surprisingly, no one has yet reported a cuckoo of either species in the Park this spring. A BARRED OWL was found on May 16. COMMON NIGHTHAWKS should be appearing soon. The first CHIMNEY SWIFT in the Park this year was on May 18. At least one and perhaps two RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER nests have been located, after years of suspicion that those birds do nest in the Park. The active one, in Jobes' Woods, was still being excavated on May 19. At one point, both members of the pair were in the cavity at the same time. A late YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, also suspected of having bred at Presqu'ile, was seen on May 18.

The bulk of the flycatcher migration is just beginning. Among others were an early OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER on May 17 and a singing ALDER FLYCATCHER. YELLOW-THROATED and PHILADELPHIA VIREOS were found on May 14 and 15. After a lull of a few days, the BLUE JAY migration at the lighthouse has picked up again. The COMMON RAVEN that has been in the area for weeks continues to be spotted regularly, including this morning. Only one sighting of the CAROLINA WREN at 83 Bayshore Road occurred in the past week. Two BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER nests are within about 150 metres of each other on Paxton Drive near the lighthouse.

Despite an unusually early "leaf-out", a high count of 27 warbler species was reached on May 15, with an additional one on each of May 14 and 16, for a total of 29 in three days. All of the common species were recorded, including a YELLOW WARBLER that built a nest appropriately right beside an interpretive sign (referring to the lighthouse keeper's dwelling) that reads "a home at last." Among the less common species were what traditional geographers described as the essence of their discipline: CAPES and BAYS. Bordering on rarity, or perhaps legitimately rare, were BLUE-WINGED, GOLDEN-WINGED, ORANGE-CROWNED, PRAIRIE, CERULEAN, and HOODED WARBLERS. A SUMMER TANAGER on May 15 was one of very few Presqu'ile records, two of which were found on the property of the observer. A CLAY-COLORED SPARROW was found on May 15.

Several LINCOLN'S SPARROWS appeared on May 20. A late RUSTY BLACKBIRD was seen and heard on May 14 and a late PINE SISKIN on May 15.

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. Birders are encouraged to record their observations on the bird sightings board provided near the campground office by The Friends of Presqu'ile Park and to fill out a rare bird report for species not listed there.



Fred Helleiner