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Birding Report

Presqu’ile Bird Report for 19-25 Apr 2019

HIGHLIGHTS: RED-THROATED LOON, CATTLE EGRET, LAUGHING GULL, CAROLINA WREN, SNOW BUNTING

There were several days with good numbers of migrant passerines arriving although we still haven’t had a “big” day yet.  Waterfowl numbers have thinned out considerably although most species are still around. The beach showed signs of life with several species of shorebirds seen this week.

A single CACKLING GOOSE was seen on 23 Apr within a bigger push of 750 CANADA GEESE that flew over the gate in the morning. A pair of SURF SCOTERS was off Beach 4 on 25 Apr.  RED-THROATED LOONS have returned to Popham Bay where eight were found on 22 Apr, followed by 5 on 23 Apr and 5 on 25 Apr.  These birds, mostly in non-breeding plumage, are best searched for on calm mornings with a scope from the Beach.  A RED-NECKED GREBE was with 7 HORNED GREBE off Owen Pt on 25 Apr.  The nesting GREAT EGRETS on High Bluff Island can be scoped from the beach where 30 were noted on 23 Apr.  A single BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON could also be seen this way on 24 Apr with 3 the next day.  A rare CATTLE EGRET was a one-day wonder just outside the park on Huff Rd on 23 Apr.

An adult BALD EAGLE was seen on 21 Apr.  On 20 Apr one observer watched a female NORTHERN HARRIER chase and rob a MERLIN of the small bird it was carrying.  The first VIRGINIA RAIL was heard from the Marsh Boardwalk on 21 Apr and the first COMMON GALLINULE in the park was seen 19 Apr.  Shorebirds are starting to appear.  Apart from the resident breeders – KILLDEER, AMERICAN WOODCOCK AND WILSON’S SNIPE – there were several sightings of GREATER YELLOWLEGS with one on 21 Apr and one on 25 Apr.  Just outside the park four were seen on 20 Apr in the flooded areas near the south end of Huff Rd. On 24 Apr a LESSER YELLOWLEGS was seen on Huff Rd.  The first two SPOTTED SANDPIPERS were on Owen Pt. on 25 Apr and a DUNLIN on the natural beach the same day was also the first.

BONAPARTE’S GULLS remain scarce with 4 on 25 Apr being the only report this week.  A superb rarity – a breeding-plumaged LAUGHING GULL - spent a brief time on Beach 1 on the morning of 24 Apr. Two GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS – rare in breeding season since botulism killed-off the resident breeders - were on the gravel bar between Owen Pt. and Gull Is on 25 Apr. CASPIAN TERNS are back in numbers at their nesting areas on Gull Is. and the first two COMMON TERNS were seen on 21 Apr.  AMERICAN KESTERLS, which have not bred in the Park in several decades, were seen at least five times this week at various locations. The final three swallows – CLIFF, BANK and NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED - arrived this week on 20 Apr,  24 Apr, and 20 Apr respectively. 

A BROWN CREEPER nest was discovered on 25 Apr.  The first HOUSE WREN arrived on 19 Apr followed by another on 25 Apr. A CAROLINA WREN was heard at the Lighthouse on 23 Apr.  A female BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER was at Calf Pasture on 21 Apr. All week a male EASTERN BLUEBIRD, occasionally joined by a female, was at the Birdhouse Nature Store, just outside the gate. A very late SNOW BUNTING was on Beach 2 on 25 Apr.  The third warbler of 2019, after YELLOW-RUMPED and PINE that arrived last week, was PALM WARBLER on 22 APR.

Two AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS on 25 Apr are a bit on the late side. A SAVANNAH SPARROW was seen on 22 Apr. What may prove to be the last FOX SPARROW of spring was at a feeder on 19 Apr.  PURPLE FINCHES were seen on 19 Apr and 22 Apr.  Two PINE SISKINS were noted on 21 Apr.  Last and least, a HOUSE SPARROW – often rare in the Park – was seen on 22 Apr.

Directions: Presqu’ile Provincial Park is located on the north shore of Lake Ontario, just south of the town of Brighton.  It can be reached from either Hwy. 401, or Cty. Rd. 2 and is well signed.  A Park map can be found in the information tabloid available at the Park gate.  Presqu’ile’s two offshore islands – Gull and High Bluff – support a large multi-species colonial bird nesting area and access is not permitted during the breeding season (10 March-10 September).