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Birding Report

First of all, an apology/explanation for the lateness of this report, the result of severe wind damage to the computer server through which this is delivered. Easter weekend was pretty spectacular at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, not only for variety of birds but also for some stunning rarities that got even the most jaded birders excited and got one convalescing birder walking further than was likely good for him in order not to miss the spectacle. Since then, Tuesday and Wednesday saw an influx of hordes of birds, as in other parts of southern Ontario.

Two NORTHERN SHOVELERS and seven NORTHERN PINTAILS seen in the past week represent species that are normally gone by late April. Four SURF SCOTERS were off Owen Point for a few days and two BLACK SCOTERS were there on April 22, the second consecutive day on which all three scoter species were present. A BLACK SCOTER was seen again on April 27. Three HOODED MERGANSERS on April 24 were also late. An estimate of 20 RED-THROATED LOONS in Popham Bay on April 27 was the highest of this spring. Overhead migrating COMMON LOONS have been scarce, a situation that has led to speculation that recent botulism outbreaks on the Great Lakes may be responsible. A few HORNED GREBES and one RED-NECKED GREBE have been off the lighthouse. As many as 14 GREAT EGRETS and 18 BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS are visible on the offshore islands without leaving the mainland. We are awaiting our first reports of LEAST BITTERN and GREEN HERON. Within a four-day period singles of AMERICAN KESTREL, MERLIN, and PEREGRINE FALCON were found at Presqu'ile. A SORA was calling in the marsh.

The shorebird migration for which Presqu'ile is famous started off with a bang. An unprecedented flock of AMERICAN AVOCETS, all in full breeding plumage, spent the day on the beach on April 23, over a month earlier than the previous record for the Park. There is only a handful of previous records of this species at Presqu'ile and never more than one bird at a time. On the following day, another rare shorebird, a WILLET, spent several hours floating on a tiny bit of debris in Popham Bay. Other migrant shorebirds seen in the past few days were GREATER YELLOWLEGS, SPOTTED SANDPIPER, DUNLINS, and LEAST SANDPIPER. AMERICAN WOODCOCKS can be heard in the evenings, but the one strutting across the road in broad daylight was a treat. COMMON TERNS have been back for several days.

Three different RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS were present on April 27, including one near last year's nest site in Jobes' woods. An EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE, reported on April 26, would be a record early date if corroborating details were submitted to the Park office. An early WARBLING VIREO appeared on April 28. The swarm of swallows that gathered at the lighthouse in the cold wind on April 28 contained a few CLIFF SWALLOWS, among others. MARSH WRENS and BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS have been back for several days. An early GRAY CATBIRD was reported on April 26. Among the nine species of warblers present on April 27 were early BLUE-WINGED WARBLER and NORTHERN PARULA, neither of which was a record early date. The former has been present near the lighthouse every day since then. A record early date for CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER was set by a report of one on April 26. The Park would appreciate details of that observation. The most recent FOX SPARROW sighting in the Park was on April 23. An early ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK showed up on April 24. RUSTY BLACKBIRDS have been present on at least four days in the past week. At 83 Bayshore Road, an ORCHARD ORIOLE on April 27 was remarkably early, and a COMMON REDPOLL on April 26 and 27 was remarkably late.

A WHIP-POOR-WILL was heard briefly on April 27 at the calf pasture in Presqu'ile Provincial Park.

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.

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Fred Helleiner