This has been an interesting week for birders at Presqu'ile Provincial Park. Along with many of the birds that have just returned more or less on schedule, there have been several unexpected rarities, all of which have been overshadowed by the RUFF which has spent the past four days nearby but outside the Park and therefore excluded from further mention here.
Within the next few days, flocks of BRANT are likely to be moving through Presqu'ile. A RING-NECKED DUCK was still present on May 7, and a HOODED MERGANSER on May 9. A RED-THROATED LOON in alternate (breeding) plumage was in Popham Bay this morning. Two AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS, the first ever spring record for Presqu'ile, were seen by five observers as they flew over the lighthouse on May 8 and were photographed as they disappeared into the east. Two GREAT EGRETS were on High Bluff Island today. An adult BALD EAGLE was photographed at the calf pasture yesterday. On Sunday evening two PIPING PLOVERS, the second and third this month, were photographed and one has remained there each day since then. The birds were banded but their provenance has not yet been established. Other shorebirds are trickling in, the latest being a SANDERLING this morning. BONAPARTE'S GULLS have been passing through, with 100 estimated on May 8.
Both male and female RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS have returned. A RED-HEADED WOODPECKER flew over the lighthouse this morning. The first RED-EYED VIREO of the spring was spotted today. A COMMON RAVEN was also seen this morning. Along with the aforementioned pelicans and plovers, other rarities among passerines have been vying for attention. They include TUFTED TITMOUSE sightings at three widely separated parts of the Park on different dates: the first was photographed at Owen Point late on May 6; another was moving to and fro between the feeders at 191 Bayshore Road and 186 Bayshore Road on May 7 until late in the day; on the following morning one was found near the Park store. It is impossible to know whether these birds were the same individual or not. Up to three BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS were frequenting the lighthouse area from May 6 - 8. A NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD, never common at Presqu'ile, was seen on May 9. There have not yet been warblers "dripping from the trees" but several noteworthy sightings have pleased birders, especially a "BREWSTER'S WARBLER" that was photographed on May 7. A BLACKPOLL WARBLER on May 12 and WILSON'S WARBLERS on May 8 and 12 were rather early. SCARLET TANAGER and INDIGO BUNTING have both been seen at the lighthouse. A RUSTY BLACKBIRD was heard on May 7. PURPLE FINCHES on May 7 and 12 and a PINE SISKIN on May 8 were of some interest.
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.