Although there are fewer passerine migrants at Presqu'ile Provincial Park than a week ago, the shortfall has been more than compensated for by the arrival of hundreds of shorebirds. The Warblers and Whimbrels weekend lived up to its billing and provided many visitors with plenty of birds to look at.
On most recent days except today, BRANT have been seen, either flying past in flocks or resting on the land or water around the offshore islands. Some late lingering ducks seen in the past week include RING-NECKED DUCK, GREATER SCAUP, WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS, LONG-TAILED DUCKS, BUFFLEHEAD, COMMON GOLDENEYE, and COMMON and RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS. Up to three LEAST BITTERNS have been heard in the marsh, usually at dusk. Other heron-related species seen this week were AMERICAN BITTERN, GREAT EGRET, GREEN HERON, and BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON. A BROAD-WINGED HAWK and a WILD TURKEY were seen on May 21. Both VIRGINIA RAIL and SORA were heard in the marsh during the marsh monitoring program.
The shorebird migration has been building steadily and has reached hundreds of birds today, with many resting briefly on the flooded beaches or at Owen Point before moving on. About fifteen species have been recorded. WHIMBRELS are always a big drawing card. They have been seen in small to moderate numbers almost every day, including today. A MARBLED GODWIT was reported on May 21. BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS, RUDDY TURNSTONES and a few RED KNOTS, SANDERLINGS, and WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS have also been seen. The vast majority of the shorebirds today were DUNLINS. A SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER was another good find, once correctly identified! Away from the water's edge, both WILSON'S SNIPE and AMERICAN WOODCOCK have been easy to find. Perhaps a phalarope may put in an appearance before the shorebird migration winds down.
BARRED OWLS have been heard several times, including two that were apparently calling to each other. Four dedicated birders doing a "big day" were surprised to hear a NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL before dawn near the bird sightings board, where one was calling a few times early in spring. As yet, no one has reported a COMMON NIGHTHAWK.
A RED-HEADED WOODPECKER was at Owen Point on May 24. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS continue to be found in various parts of the Park. Both ALDER and WILLOW FLYCATCHERS have been calling here and there. The most recent PHILADELPHIA VIREO sighting was on May 23. A CLIFF SWALLOW was an unexpected sighting. BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS were building a nest near the east end of Paxton Drive. EASTERN BLUEBIRDS normally appear at Presqu'ile only in migration, so a single male on May 23 was a surprise. Single NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRDS were seen in widely separated areas on two consecutive days. Most of the warbler migration has ended, but in the past week there were sightings of BLUE-WINGED, CAPE MAY, CERULEAN (2), MOURNING, and HOODED WARBLERS, among others. Late LINCOLN'S and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS were seen on May 22 and 25, respectively. ORCHARD ORIOLES were building nests at two locations near the lighthouse. PURPLE FINCHES and PINE SISKINS were still present on May 25 and 26, respectively.
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.