One rare bird and several uncommon ones have livened up the birding scene at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, and the influx of more common species bodes well for the forthcoming Warblers and Whimbrels Weekend, which begins on Saturday.
The male CANVASBACK that appeared in late April was still present on May 12 and 13, which is unusually late for that species. A late RING-NECKED DUCK was also seen on May 13. After a run of five days, the male SURF SCOTER that provided some killer looks and photographs was last seen on May 13, when two WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS were also nearby. Four other SURF SCOTERS were in a different location on May 13. A WILD TURKEY was seen on May 14. Although the beach has virtually disappeared under record high lake levels, a few shorebirds have appeared, mostly to the north of the Park boundary but visible from within the Park. Notably, a SEMIPALMATED PLOVER was present on May 14, and the PIPING PLOVER that frequented the remnants of the beach from April 21 onward was last seen on May 12 or 13. A lone WHIMBREL was just north of the Park boundary this morning. A family of AMERICAN WOODCOCKS tried to avoid traffic while crossing the road, with only partial success. SOLITARY SANDPIPERS were seen on May 12 and 13. Six BONAPARTE'S GULLS were off the lighthouse on May 12. All but one of the few ARCTIC TERN records from Presqu'ile have been in the latter half of May. A RED-THROATED LOON was still off the beach on May 12 and 13. A LEAST BITTERN did two fly-bys off the campground office viewing platform yesterday. GREAT EGRETS continue to be seen, both on their nests on High Bluff Island and at foraging locations such as the calf pasture cove.
COOPER'S HAWKS, of which one was seen this week, are likely present thoughout the breeding season but generally remain secretive. There was at least one BARRED OWL sighting this week. Yesterday and today were marked by RED-HEADED WOODPECKER sightings, of which there were five in five different places, some of which may have been of the same bird. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS are being seen and heard almost every day. A MERLIN flew past the lighthouse. Six flycatcher species seen this week are the most this year. They include the first EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE and WILLOW FLYCATCHER. A YELLOW-THROATED VIREO was seen on May 13. On at least four of the last five days, BLUE JAYS have been migrating over the lighthouse in good numbers. BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS are being seen regularly near the lighthouse. Among the six thrush species seen this week was an EASTERN BLUEBIRD. VEERY, GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH, and SWAINSON'S THRUSH all appeared for the first time this spring. A NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD was in the day use area on May 13. The CEDAR WAXWINGS seen this morning are probably the vanguard of larger numbers that normally arrive in late May. PURPLE FINCHES continue to be seen in small numbers.
The big attraction at this time of year can be the warbler variety. The 24 species seen in the past week represent a normal mixture, but the one prize sighting was anything but normal for the lucky three birders who had a 30-second view of a WORM-EATING WARBLER, only the fifth record for Presqu'ile. Others that pale in comparison but are still of interest include a female GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER, several BLUE-WINGED WARBLERS, and CAPE MAY and CANADA WARBLERS. CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, SAVANNAH SPARROW, and LINCOLN'S SPARROW were all seen this week. SCARLET TANAGERS have been moving through in the past few days. Other birds of interest this week are INDIGO BUNTINGS, BOBOLINKS, and ORCHARD ORIOLES.
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.