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Birding Report

Presqu’ile Bird Report for 17-23 May 2019

HIGHLIGHTS:  CATTLE EGRET, SANDHILL CRANE, PIPING PLOVER, LAUGHING GULL, BLACK TERN, CERULEAN WARBLER

Presqu’ile always shines in the latter half of May and this past week was very busy with several excellent warbler days.  The rising water of Lake Ontario has now claimed most of the beach leaving shorebirds little habitat to feed or even roost.  Rubber boots are essential for the beach and some sections of various trails.

BRANT were seen on two dates with 140 on 17 May and 9 on 18 May. A late pair of RING-NECKED DUCKS lingered in the marsh off the Camp Office viewing deck all week.  On calm days a few WHITE-WINGED SCOTER can often be seen on the Lake but 27 flying west high over the gate on 18 May were clearly migrating. A COMMON GOLDENEYE on 18 May is getting late.  Six COMMON MERGANSERS were seen on 18 May including a pair that had a RED-THROATED LOON swimming with them.  RED-THROATED LOONS remain in Popham Bay off the beach but are generally seen only on calm days.  The high count was 8 on 18 May.  LEAST BITTERNS were seen several times starting with one on 18 May.  The CATTLE EGRET that had been so obliging for the past week on Huff Rd was last reported on 19 May.

Two SANDHILL CRANES flew east overhead on 17 May followed by seven more, also going east, on 19 May.  Shorebirds are beginning to arrive but there is almost no beach to feed or roost on and most seem to be flying past.  The banded PIPING PLOVER (number 135 born on Toronto Island last year) returned to the beach from 18-20 May then disappeared again.  Two SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER of the subspecies griseus were on the beach on 18 May.  Two unusual species of gull were reported this week.  A LAUGHING GULL was photographed on the beach on 20 May.  The photos show no white spots on the primaries and is therefore a different bird than the previous two sightings.  A third year LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was also reported the same day.  Four BLACK TERNS, now a less than annual visitor, flew over the causeway going west on 21 May.

Both cuckoos were seen this week with BLACK-BILLED first seen on 19 May, and YELLOW-BILLED heard on 20 May.  On 23 May both species were seen at Calf Pasture.  Starting in the early 2000’s GREAT HORNED OWLS virtually disappeared from this area, possibly in relation to the arrival of West Nile.  Only in the past few years have they shown any sign of a comeback so it is with great excitement that a pair with one young was located – the first known breeding in the Park in over a decade. If you come upon this family group please do not approach or bother them as the young is still vulnerable.

COMMON NIGHTHAWKS were seen throughout the week and late WHIP-POOR-WILLS were detected on 17 and 18 May.  RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS have been seen in small numbers throughout the week, including a copulating pair in suitable nesting habitat raising hopes for another breeding attempt this year.  Flycatchers picked up a bit although the big numbers have not yet arrived.  An OLIVE-SIDED was seen on 21 May followed by another the next day.  PHILADELPHIA VIREO – the last of the expected vireos – arrived on 17 May.  Warblers of most expected species were seen throughout the week with several excellent 25+ species days.  CERULEAN WARBLER, which is a rare annual migrant, was seen twice with a female on 17 May and a singing male on 19 May. One of the last to arrive was MOURNING WARBLER on 17 May.

An EASTERN TOWHEE lingered in the Calf Pasture through the week. A CLAY-COLORED SPARROW was near the Lighthouse on 17 May, and two have since taken up territory in the Calf Pasture field.  A few PINE SISKINS are still coming to feeders along Bayshore Rd.

Needless to say we local birders would love to hear promptly of any rarities that visitors find so if you see something rare, please feel free to call or text my cell (613-243-4161) or Bill Gilmour’s cell (613-475-4219) and we will get the word out to the local birding community. Thanks.

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).