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Birding Report

As the spring bird migration tapers off in Presqu'ile Provincial Park, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find new birds (ones that haven't been here since last year). Despite that several interesting sightings have been reported in the past week. A few birds' nests of interest have also been discovered.

What appears to have been a moult migration of CANADA GEESE took place on May 24, when three flocks passed overhead. A maximum of 500 BRANT in two flocks passed Presqu'ile on May 21, but none appeared since May 23.

Among the ducks lingering along the north shore of Gull Island are AMERICAN WIGEONS, AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, NORTHERN SHOVELER, NORTHERN PINTAIL, and REDHEADS. Further out in Popham Bay, a male SCAUP was seen on May 25 and 14 late COMMON GOLDENEYES were seen on May 26. Flocks of WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS moved past the lighthouse on May 23 (50) and 25 (14). Single male and female COMMON MERGANSERS were off Owen Point.

For the past five days a HORNED GREBE and a RED-NECKED GREBE have been in Popham Bay, the latter also present on May 22 but showing signs of ill health. In addition to the four species of herons and related birds that can be found every day at Presqu'ile, a GREEN HERON was seen on May 25.

MERLINS have appeared at Owen Point and the lighthouse, which may be a minor contributing factor to the disappointing shortage of shorebirds so far this year. What is needed is a good overnight storm. In the meantime, what is lacking in numbers is compensated for by quality.

PIPING PLOVERS have appeared sporadically since May 22 but have proven elusive for most of the birders who have searched the beach from the locations that have not been posted as off limits. Other shorebirds of note were BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS, a measly two WHIMBRELS that nevertheless cooperated nicely for participants in the Warblers and Whimbrels weekend, some colourful RUDDY TURNSTONES, a RED KNOT on May 22, a rare-in-spring BAIRD'S SANDPIPER on May 23, an equally rare-in-spring PURPLE SANDPIPER on May 22 that, based on some plumage and bill characteristics, might actually have been a new-to-Ontario ROCK SANDPIPER, a few SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS, and a WILSON'S PHALAROPE. An immature GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL was at Owen Point for two days.

A single ROCK PIGEON, never common at Presqu'ile, was on the spit at Owen Point and another was at the lighthouse. BLACK-BILLED CUCKOOS have been in the Park now for over a week, but YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOOS are among very few of the expected species that have not yet returned, COMMON NIGHTHAWKS being another. Single CHIMNEY SWIFTS have been around the lighthouse for the past two days. A RED-HEADED WOODPECKER called repeatedly near the lighthouse on May 21 but could not be spotted among the foliage in the willows.
The RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER nest in Jobes' Woods continues to be monitored, while a second pair likely has a nest near the lighthouse. Within the past five days, five OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHERS have been seen in different parts of the Park, most recently north of the Owen Point trail access road on May 27. YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHERS are among the few remaining expected species that have not yet been seen this spring. EASTERN KINGBIRDS are building a nest high in a tree beside the lighthouse. A late PHILADELPHIA VIREO was watched on May 27 as it sang its RED-EYED VIREO sound-alike song. The frustrating wait for the discovery of a COMMON RAVEN'S nest has ended. The first ever at Presqu'ile was located near the Elmvale campground.

Again this week, a CAROLINA WREN appeared at 83 Bayshore Road on May 24. A BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER'S nest is in plain view right beside the road (Paxton Drive) not far from the lighthouse. Only one GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH and very few SWAINSON'S THRUSHES have been seen here this spring. A large flock of CEDAR WAXWINGS circled over the lighthouse on May 23. On the same morning an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER was also there.

A female "BREWSTER'S WARBLER" was seen on May 22 and a female CERULEAN WARBLER on May 21. An AMERICAN REDSTART has a nest beside the lighthouse parking lot. A MOURNING WARBLER has apparently set up territory beside Paxton Drive, about 100 metres beyond the Jobes' Woods trail parking lot. A LINCOLN'S SPARROW was banded on the weekend and another observer found two on May 25. ORCHARD ORIOLES are building a nest for the second consecutive year beside the lighthouse visitor centre.

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