Again this week, a few rarities spiced up the birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, indicating that the spring migration is not over.
A lone BRANT spent a few days on the shore of Gull Island. Both RING-NECKED DUCK (May 22) and LESSER SCAUP (May 24 and 25) were among the late waterfowl migrants. Fifteen WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS flew past on Sunday. A RED-THROATED LOON flew past Owen Point on May 26. At least one HORNED GREBE, the first in several weeks, appeared on May 25. This morning a LEAST BITTERN flew past in the marsh. The GREAT EGRET colony on High Bluff Island appears to have been destroyed by raccoons, but a few individuals have been seen there in the past week. At least for this year, the species is no longer one of the common summer birds. Two SANDHILL CRANES were at the marsh boardwalk on Saturday.
Shorebirds have been the news-makers this week, with thousands descending on Presqu'ile on Sunday and respectable numbers on every other day. There were double-digit numbers of BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS on at least three different days. The expected WHIMBRELS did not disappoint, with small groups on the traditional date of May 24 and singles on at least two subsequent days. RUDDY TURNSTONES have also been present in good numbers. One of the biggest attractions was a flock of 50 RED KNOTS on May 24 that stayed only briefly. SANDERLINGS, while present every day this week, have not yet reached their expected numbers, but SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS, now in the hundreds, are currently the dominant shorebirds. For two consecutive days a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER was present. All the foregoing sightings notwithstanding, the unquestioned shorebird highlights, marveled at by birders and non-birders alike, were the thousands of DUNLINS that occupied, it seemed, every square metre of shoreline and much of the air space. SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS were seen on May 24 (10 birds on Gull Island), 25, and 26. All of the few ARCTIC TERN records for Presqu'ile have fallen between May 26 and June 2, and the one on Owen Point yesterday was within that window.
Two fledgling BARRED OWLS accompanied by an adult in an undisclosed location provided an opportunity for a close-up photo of one of the young birds. COMMON NIGHTHAWKS were seen on May 24 and 25 and CHIMNEY SWIFTS on May 22 and 25. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS are apparently here to stay for the summer. MERLINS appear to be nesting in the Park, though no nest has yet been found. A PEREGRINE FALCON was attracted to the shorebird swarms on Sunday. At least one OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER was seen on Sunday. A PHILADELPHIA VIREO on Sunday was on the late side. A COMMON RAVEN on Monday was the only one noted this week. A BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER on Sunday was one of the few seen in the Park this year. The latest RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET was on May 22. Surprisingly, no one has yet reported a GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH or a NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD this spring. Although the warbler migration has definitely slowed down, Sunday's birdathon yielded a good variety of both early and late species. Since the most recent PROTHONOTARY WARBLER record for the Park was in June, birders should not yet give up on their search for migrants, rare or otherwise. CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS continue at the calf pasture. One of only three Presqu'ile LARK SPARROW records was on May 29 (in 2002), so even rare sparrow sightings can not be ruled out even this late in the season. A LINCOLN'S SPARROW on May 24 was rather late. A BOBOLINK on the ground at Owen Point on May 22 was a bit of a surprise. ORCHARD ORIOLES will likely remain a fairly common bird in the Park for the rest of 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 from March 10 onward 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.