In a month or two of summer doldrums as far as birding is concerned, any sightings that are slightly out of season are of interest, and there have been a few of those at Presqu'ile Provincial Park this week, as well as the usual broad mix of breeding birds that the Park has to offer.
MUTE SWAN numbers have been gradually building up in the past week, with about 50 birds in Popham Bay and Presqu'ile Bay in recent days, excluding numerous recently fledged young. The Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, in recent correspondence, wrote, " Ministry staff are working with the federal government's Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) to better understand the ecological impact of Mute Swans on Presqu'ile's native species and park values. Our discussions with CWS are ongoing and I trust that a joint approach to managing Mute Swans can be achieved" (emphasis mine). Perhaps the time is opportune for the birding community to weigh in on the need to manage this invasive species. For the past three days, four WOOD DUCKS have been in the marsh. Yesterday two male COMMON MERGANSERS were in Popham Bay. The family of COMMON LOONS that hatched last week was observed again on June 19. The five heron family species observed this week included AMERICAN and LEAST BITTERNS, GREAT EGRETS, and BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS. A very late BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER in full alternate (breeding) plumage was on the beach on June 23. An AMERICAN WOODCOCK was clocked at 45 kilometres per hour as it flew ahead of a birder's car on the main Park road. On the following day at the same location it or another was sitting in full view on the pavement. Two juvenile GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS were at Owen Point on June 23.
A BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO was heard twice this week between Owen Point and the Owen Point trail parking lot. No YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO has yet been reported at Presqu'ile this year though summer sightings have occurred in previous years. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS and MERLINS are known to be in the Park this summer but are not often seen. Yet both were at 83 Bayshore Road yesterday. The PURPLE MARTIN colony at the end of Bayshore Road has only half as many birds as in the past two years. A NASHVILLE WARBLER was reported near the lighthouse on June 19. Both MOURNING WARBLER and PINE WARBLER were at 83 Bayshore Road yesterday. The most interesting warbler this week, however, was a persistently singing NORTHERN PARULA on High Bluff Island on June 23, a record late date. A CLAY-COLORED SPARROW was singing in the calf pasture on June 20. A remarkable eight ORCHARD ORIOLES and two PURPLE FINCHES were at 83 Bayshore Road yesterday. Three very late PINE SISKINS are at 186 Bayshore Road as this report is being written.
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.