Newly arriving migrants have made for great birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park this past week, though the stereotypical fallout that has trees dripping with birds that wintered in the tropics has yet to occur.
The first BLUE-WINGED TEAL of the season was in the woodpile marsh on April 21. With the campground opening this weekend, campers using tents instead of soundproof motorhomes may be treated to the sound of an early WHIP-POOR-WILL. A VIRGINIA RAIL has been both seen and heard in the marsh near the entrance to the boardwalk, where YELLOW RAILS are sometimes heard in late April and early May. The male PIPING PLOVER that successfully fathered three ploverlings on the beach last year reappeared on beach 2 on April 21, tying the record early date established in 1994. It or another was still there on April 24, 26, and 27, presumably awaiting the arrival of its mate from last year and/or one or more of its offspring. A SPOTTED SANDPIPER was near the lighthouse this morning. No one was able to pick out a LITTLE GULL from among the several flocks of BONAPARTE'S GULLS seen on the weekend, but this is normally the peak time of their spring migration. A RED-THROATED LOON was far out in Popham Bay yesterday. Indicative of surprises that may occur at this time of year was the adult NORTHERN GANNET that flew past on May 1 four years ago. GREAT EGRETS and BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS are apparently nesting on High Bluff Island, and the former have been seen from the marsh boardwalk. A RED-TAILED HAWK on Saturday was unusual in the Park at this late date.
Two new flycatcher species appeared this morning: a GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER in Newcastle woods which was one day earlier than the previous early record and an EASTERN KINGBIRD flying over near the lighthouse. A COMMON RAVEN was again seen this week. While chatting at a picnic table on the lawn in front of the lighthouse visitor centre on Sunday, three birders were surprised to see a HORNED LARK feeding only a few metres away, in an unexpected location. The good news story is that the three remaining PURPLE MARTIN houses at the end of Bayshore Road are now occupied by at least 16 of the birds, apparently having evicted previous occupants (HOUSE SPARROW and TREE SWALLOW). A BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER was at the lighthouse on Sunday. The first WOOD THRUSH of the year arrived this morning. A NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD at 12 Bayshore Road this afternoon may be the same bird that spent a few days almost a fortnight ago at 115 Bayshore Road. The warbler migration at Presqu'ile is slowly getting under way. In addition to the two species reported last week, there have been sightings of NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (since April 24), PALM WARBLER (April 24 and 25), and BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER (April 24). WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS appeared for the first time this morning. Two RUSTY BLACKBIRDS were at the lighthouse on Saturday.
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.