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Birding Report

If the definition of a rare bird, as applied in Presqu'ile Provincial Park, is one that has not been recorded in either the current or the preceding year, then several rare birds have appeared in the Park in the past week. In fact, not only rarities but also those that might have been expected arrived with a vengeance on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Migration has continued since then, with new species returning every day.

No RED-THROATED LOONS have been reported since the two that were present on April 30. Six AMERICAN BITTERNS were counted in the marsh on Tuesday evening. LEAST BITTERNS may already be back also, but they are more difficult to locate. The nesting GREAT EGRETS on High Bluff Island are more conspicuous than ever before, perhaps because their numbers are up. GREEN HERONS were seen at the lighthouse and at the calf pasture.

BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS roosting on Sebastopol Island are sometimes obscured by the foliage. CANADA GEESE were migrating on May 2. Given that several broods have hatched and fledged in the Park already, those flocks likely consisted of moult migrants. Other waterfowl noted this week included WOOD DUCKS, AMERICAN BLACK DUCK, NORTHERN SHOVELERS, REDHEADS, RING-NECKED DUCKS, and late COMMON GOLDENEYES.

This has been a good week for raptor sightings. Among the eight species was a PEREGRINE FALCON that perched for a long time near the woodpile marsh on May 5. It or another was seen at the marsh boardwalk on the following morning. The long-staying and excessively tame WILD TURKEY has been seen again in the vicinity of two homes/cottages. A SORA was found on May 3. The shorebird scene has been mixed. The beach has been almost empty, though a RUDDY TURNSTONE on May 5 was rather early. On the other hand, low water in the marsh has exposed mudflats visible from the new viewing tower. Twelve GREATER and three LESSER YELLOWLEGS have been there on at least two recent days. Presumably it was that same flock that was also seen on the rocky lake shore at High Bluff campground. AMERICAN WOODCOCKS were performing behind 83 Bayshore Road. A BARRED OWL was also calling there. On May 1, two WHIP-POOR-WILLS were calling at that location and a short time later at least one was near the lighthouse.

A few species, notably CHIMNEY SWIFTS and RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS, have been conspicuous by their scarcity or absence, only three sightings of the latter having been noted and none of the former. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS have also been scarce since the first one appeared on May 1. A WHITE-EYED VIREO was discovered on May 2. This is not only a rare bird at Presqu'ile but is also the earliest spring arrival date. BLUE JAYS have been migrating past the lighthouse every morning since the weekend. A COMMON RAVEN has been seen or heard several times. BANK SWALLOWS returned en masse to their colony at the day use area of the Park. Twice this week, the CAROLINA WREN at 83 Bayshore Road put in an appearance. BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS are again building a nest beside Paxton Drive. The warbler migration is slowly getting under way.

Numbers are still low but the variety has been good (20 species). Both BLUE-WINGED and GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLERS have been located by their songs. An early TENNESSEE WARBLER was singing on May 6, and a record early AMERICAN REDSTART was at the lighthouse on April 30. The best of them all, however, was a singing male HOODED WARBLER on May 5. SCARLET TANAGERS were seen on May 4 and 5. A CLAY-COLORED SPARROW appeared on a lawn at 186 Bayshore Road on May 2. GRASSHOPPER SPARROWS are rare at any time at Presqu'ile but one was found on May 2. ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS and an early INDIGO BUNTING on May 2 have both begun to add colour to the bird scene. A BOBOLINK was at the calf pasture on May 6.

A RUSTY BLACKBIRD was still present on May 3. ORCHARD ORIOLES have been seen on most days this month and will likely remain for the summer.

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.

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Fred Helleiner