Birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park this week has been typical of early to mid-May. Some days are rich in migrants while others are relatively slow. Even on slow days, however, newly returned birds can always be found, albeit in smaller numbers.
On Monday of this week, the BRANT migration got off to a good start, with one flock of 800 birds passing by. For the following two days, more flocks totalling over 2,000 birds were seen, and a few of the birds stopped to rest around Gull Island. The ducks have thinned out, but both SURF and WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS were still present this week. The same is true of divers, but a couple of RED-THROATED LOONS and a HORNED GREBE were seen on May 9 and a RED-NECKED GREBE on the following day. A call came in just a moment ago (8:49 p.m.) that a LEAST BITTERN is at the marsh boardwalk. GREAT EGRETS are hardly worth mentioning because of their continuing presence on their High Bluff Island nests. A GREEN HERON was behind one of the cottages on May 9.
This was a surprisingly good week for raptors at Presqu'ile. Among others, there was a NORTHERN GOSHAWK, a BROAD-WINGED HAWK, a first-for-the-Park SWAINSON'S HAWK, and a PEREGRINE FALCON. There were several WILD TURKEY sightings in disparate locations, suggesting more than the one individual that has been here for months. A SORA was heard calling in the marsh. Among shorebirds, the highlight was another banded PIPING PLOVER on May 10, the second in about a week. The first was traced to its origin in northern Michigan, and it seems likely that the more recent one was also from there if indeed it was a different bird. Given the difficulty of spotting that species on such a broad expanse of beach, it may well be that only one individual is involved and that a more extensive search may again turn it up. Other shorebirds have turned up in small numbers, including BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, SEMIPALMATED PLOVER, SOLITARY SANDPIPER, and RUDDY TURNSTONE, but the major influx is not yet here. Within the next week, one can expect a few SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS and perhaps the first of the WHIMBRELS. One observer watched an AMERICAN WOODCOCK out on the road with four young ones in tow.
Among land birds, the first BLACK-BILLED CUCKOOS should be arriving soon. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS continue to be seen and heard here and there. A late YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER was seen on May 10 and 12. The hordes of EASTERN KINGBIRDS that were everywhere today presage the main influx of other flycatchers, including perhaps a WESTERN KINGBIRD like the one that was here in May of 2000. The anticipated migration of BLUE JAYS is now in full swing, and even BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES have been migrating past the lighthouse for the past several mornings. BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS can be found with a little effort. A number of observers saw a co-operative NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD this morning.
Warblers are one of the main attractions at Presqu'ile at this time of year. A GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER was at the calf pasture today and a CERULEAN WARBLER was at the marsh boardwalk parking lot yesterday. An early BLACKPOLL WARBLER was found this morning. Others have been too numerous (in variety if not yet quantity) to mention. Other colourful birds regularly sought after include SCARLET TANAGERS, which have just started to trickle in. Several competent birders heard the unmistakable "song" of a CLAY-COLORED SPARROW on May 8. A few LINCOLN'S SPARROWS have been seen, as well as a few late DARK-EYED JUNCOES. Many ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS and a few INDIGO BUNTINGS are giving even beginning birders what they had hoped for. The first BOBOLINKS appeared on May 7, and a lingering RUSTY BLACKBIRD was seen on May 6. ORCHARD ORIOLES and dozens of BALTIMORE ORIOLES are ubiquitous. A female EVENING GROSBEAK was near the lighthouse on May 9 and at 83 Bayshore Road on May 10.
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.