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Birding Report

When April turns to May, expectations are high among birders that many wonderful sightings will materialize. At Presqu'ile Provincial Park, those expectations have been only partly fulfilled because of weather conditions that were unfavourable for spring migration. Nevertheless, some interesting reports have surfaced, especially, for the second week in a row, among shorebirds. The forecast is for a change that is more conducive to typical May birding conditions.

Among birds that can soon be expected to pass through Presqu'ile are the flocks of BRANT that are more regular here than in other parts of southern Ontario. Other waterfowl of interest in the past few days have included five NORTHERN SHOVELERS and three SURF SCOTERS. Most RED-THROATED LOONS have likely moved on, but small numbers are still present in Popham Bay. GREAT EGRETS are uncommon in much of Ontario but can be counted on at Presqu'ile, where several nests on High Bluff Island are visible from the mainland with the aid of a scope. Given the preponderance of that species of egret in the Park and the extreme rarity of SNOWY EGRETS anywhere in Ontario, the report of one of the latter on May 1 requires the submission of a rare bird report form to the Park office.

Raptors have been scarce at Presqu'ile this week but both AMERICAN KESTREL and MERLIN have been present at the calf pasture. The beach from Owen Point north to the Park boundary has had several species of shorebirds in recent days. The first BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER of the season was on the natural beach yesterday and today. A banded PIPING PLOVER, an endangered species, was there on May 4 but could not be found the next morning. A GREATER YELLOWLEGS was at Owen Point today. For the second time in a week, a WILLET was at Presqu'ile, this time at Owen Point, a more logical place than last week's, on April 30. One LEAST SANDPIPER and up to eight DUNLINS have also been present.

The first of a few RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS arrived on May 1.

RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS are almost a daily observation. The first EASTERN KINGBIRDS were sighted on April 29. A record early RED-EYED VIREO was found on April 30. BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS are plentiful these days. An AMERICAN PIPIT was at Owen Point today. Two different BLUE-WINGED WARBLERS were in the Park for a couple of days. An early NORTHERN PARULA was seen on April 30. Two warblers reported in the past week by the same observer are sufficiently out of range or out of season to warrant documentation. One, a YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, was only the second ever at Presqu'ile and much earlier than the previous one. The other, a female (!) CANADA WARBLER on May 5 was almost a week earlier than the earliest date on record for males, which usually arrive later in May and before the females. Another warbler never before seen in April at Presqu'ile was an AMERICAN REDSTART on April 27. The first of two LINCOLN'S SPARROWS appeared on May 2. For a species reputed to be in serious trouble, the number of RUSTY BLACKBIRDS in the Park this week seems remarkable, though the amount of standing water in the forest is probably a factor. Both ORCHARD and BALTIMORE ORIOLES have returned to those parts of the Park where they nest.

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.

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Fred Helleiner