Two birds that are seen at Presqu'ile Provincial Park on a less than annual frequency appeared this week, along with most of the species that are expected in the last week of May. Because of the full foliage in the forest canopy, most birds now are being detected and identified by sound, except in the more open areas of the Park.
A BRANT has been frequenting the south-east corner of Gull Island for the past two days, perhaps the same bird that was seen on May 25. An AMERICAN BLACK DUCK off Gull Island on May 26 was the first in over a week. Several large groups of WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS have been seen this week, including about 160 off the lighthouse on May 27. Up to four COMMON LOONS in one day lead one to hope that they may again nest in Presqu'ile Bay. A LEAST BITTERN was beside the marsh boardwalk on May 27. The leaves on High Bluff Island are making it more difficult to see the GREAT EGRETS on their nests, but individuals are often seen flying to and from the island. Four BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS were doing the same on May 27.
The focus of most birding activity this week has been on shorebirds.
Some days, like May 26, have been productive while others have been less so. On that date, a highlight was a flock of 50 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS, among which were two AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS, which are very rare in spring at Presqu'ile. The much sought after WHIMBRELS have been around through most of the week in ones and twos. The flock of eight on May 25 was the largest of the spring, an unusually low number for Presqu'ile.
Up to 50 RUDDY TURNSTONES and four RED KNOTS that have been seen on three different days but have eluded most observers have added colour to the mix of shorebirds. Hundreds of DUNLINS on May 26 have been the most prolific shorebirds this week. Six SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS were at Owen Point on May 25. An AMERICAN WOODCOCK has been flushed several times on the Owen Point trail. On May 27, several birders watching another rare bird on the beach (see below) were treated to a surprise visit from a WILSON'S PHALAROPE, the first at Presqu'ile in many months. It was seen again on the next day. It would not be too late in the spring for a RED-NECKED PHALAROPE to be added to the shorebird tally, which now stands at 22 species this spring. A few BONAPARTE'S GULLS and a GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL were the only unusual gulls, but a rare FORSTER'S TERN that sat on the beach preening between short flights was an unexpected larid on May 27 and 28.
Anywhere except at Presqu'ile, a ROCK PIGEON would not be worth a second look, but one was seen flying over this week. BARRED OWLS continue to make their presence known. A COMMON NIGHTHAWK on May 26 was the only one of the spring to date. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS appear to have gone silent but continue to patronize feeders at 83 Bayshore Road. An OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER was conspicuous on May 27. Both ALDER and WILLOW FLYCATCHERS have been recorded this week. BLUE JAYS were still migrating over the lighthouse on May 29. A lone CLIFF SWALLOW flew past Owen Point. Two BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS were found on May 27. The NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD reported last week was seen again on May 25. At least fifteen warbler species were in the Park in the past week, but in much smaller numbers than before. ORCHARD ORIOLES are fairly easy to find at this time of year. No longer rare at Presqu'ile but still uncommon are HOUSE SPARROWS, of which one was seen.
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.