Many people came to enjoy the excitement of mid-May birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park. While there were some disappointingly slow days, there were enough interesting finds to keep birders from being skunked.
The peak of the BRANT migration occurred on May 18, when large flocks flew by. A BLUE-WINGED TEAL, unusual in the Park at this late date, flew past today. A male RING-NECKED DUCK continues to frequent the inner part of Presqu'ile Bay, accompanied on one occasion by a female BUFFLEHEAD and on another occasion by a female COMMON GOLDENEYE. A pair (male and female) of each of the latter two species was off the lighthouse on May 17. Flocks of WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS have been seen off the lighthouse and in Popham Bay. Hundreds of LONG-TAILED DUCKS were present on May 18, but they seem to have left on that night, as only a few have been seen each day since. Both COMMON and RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS have been in Popham Bay in the last few days, as well as a SURF SCOTER on May 19 and RED-THROATED LOONS on May 17 and 18.
A LEAST BITTERN was found on May 22. There are always GREAT EGRETS and BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS to be seen on High Bluff Island with a scope if one knows where to look and if there is no fog. There have been at least three sightings of an immature BALD EAGLE and one of an adult. A MERLIN has also been seen. COMMON GALLINULES have been seen in the marsh on at least two days.
There have been shorebirds on the beach and at Owen Point every day, the numbers and the species composition varying day by day and hour by hour. BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS had not been reported since May 18 but showed up again today. The WILLET that was reported last week was still present on May 18. The first WHIMBRELS, a flock of 31, flew past Owen Point on May 20 just in time for the conclusion of the Warblers and Whimbrels weekend, but today there were at least two flocks, some of which landed on the beach. RUDDY TURNSTONES were present on May 18 and 23. A single RED KNOT was on the beach on May 21, but more can be expected within the next week or two. The first SANDERLING showed up today. A WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER was on the beach on May 18. The majority of the shorebirds have been DUNLINS. On three different days there were SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS. Some late gulls have been around: an ICELAND GULL on May 20, several LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS, and a GLAUCOUS GULL on May 19.
We are still awaiting the first cuckoo sighting, normally expected by this date. Someone found, presumably heard, two BARRED OWLS. A NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL is nesting in the Park and the site has been declared off limits to prevent further harassment of the birds. On May 21 a COMMON NIGHTHAWK was seen. A RED-HEADED WOODPECKER re-appeared at 83 Bayshore Road this morning after an absence of a couple of weeks.
Flycatchers and vireos have been abundant this week. WILLOW FLYCATCHERS, and a YELLOW-THROATED and two PHILADELPHIA VIREOS were among them. The only OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER to date was on May 19. A TUFTED TITMOUSE was reported at the lighthouse on May 21 without any details. Single EASTERN BLUEBIRD and GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH sightings were the most interesting of that family. All afternoon today a NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD was on the lawn at 186 Bayshore Road until chased off by a RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD. CEDAR WAXWINGS have been migrating in moderate numbers for the past three days. A rather late BLUE-WINGED WARBLER was seen on May 20. MOURNING WARBLERS have begun to appear. A singing CERULEAN WARBLER at the lighthouse yesterday afternoon was a rare find. BLACKPOLL WARBLERS are among the most plentiful of the late warblers these days, but there have also been several each of BAY-BREASTED, CANADA, and WILSON'S WARBLERS. Several observers have seen a CLAY-COLORED SPARROW at the calf pasture. Two DARK-EYED JUNCOES were at 186 Bayshore Road on May 17 and one was still there on the following day. Several ORCHARD ORIOLES and PINE SISKINS round out the week's sightings.
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.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.