POSTED | May 17, 2013 - Fred Helleiner
The two best birding days at Presqu'ile Provincial Park in the past week were Friday and today. For a day or two after a good spring day here the birding often remains fairly good, which bodes well for this weekend's Warblers and Whimbrels event. Some rarities today have added spice to the variety and numbers.
The first BRANT flock of the year flew past Salt Point on May 13, and on the following morning a flock of the same size was on the beach. A NORTHERN PINTAIL, a RING-NECKED DUCK, and an unidentified scaup were all rather late stragglers. A SURF SCOTER today and a WHITE-WINGED SCOTER on Tuesday were observed. The commonest duck continues to be the LONG-TAILED DUCKS, though they will soon be leaving in anticipation of a thaw in their Arctic breeding grounds. A HORNED GREBE was off the lighthouse on May 14. The prize for the most unexpected sighting goes to the LEAST BITTERN that sat in a tree at the lighthouse before flying off. Another one was also found, presumably in a more likely setting. There were at least two MERLIN sightings.
Shorebirds have begun to draw attention away from the warblers, but the WHIMBRELS for which this weekend is named have yet to arrive. Instead there have been a few BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS and SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS on the beach and a PIPING PLOVER today, an endangered species that has become an annual drop-in for the past four years. Other shorebirds this week include a WILLET today, a LESSER YELLOWLEGS, a SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER, good numbers of LEAST SANDPIPERS, an anonymous sighting of a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER, numerous DUNLINS, and twenty SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS yesterday. An ICELAND GULL last weekend was exceptionally late. Three of the four Park records for ARCTIC TERN have been in the latter half of May, so that species should be on the watch list.
A BARRED OWL and a NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL were both undoubtedly found by a birder keen enough to continue birding after sundown, perhaps the same person who found a COMMON NIGHTHAWK. On the other hand, the EASTERN WHIP-POOR-WILL was seen and photographed in broad daylight. A CHIMNEY SWIFT flew over the lighthouse on May 10. To the disappointment of many who had hoped that RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS might again breed at Presqu'ile, there were no further reports of that species this week, but RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS continue to please visitors. A YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER was drumming in Newcastle Woods on May 14. The first EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE of the year was at the lighthouse on May 10. Several other flycatchers were present in good numbers today. On the cold mornings at the beginning of the week, several CLIFF SWALLOWS were among the many other swallows foraging low over the water at the lighthouse. In addition to the TUFTED TITMOUSE that has been patronizing a feeder as recently as Monday, at least one other was at the lighthouse on Friday. BROWN CREEPERS have been seen in Newcastle Woods. Thrushes of several species have been seen.
The warbler parade is in full swing, with 23 species seen in the past week, most of them today. Highlights include several GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLERS, BLUE-WINGED WARBLER, CAPE MAY WARBLER, NORTHERN PARULA, BAY-BREASTED WARBLER, CANADA WARBLER, and WILSON'S WARBLER. A few LINCOLN'S SPARROWS have been seen, as well as a late DARK-EYED JUNCO on May 13. SCARLET TANAGERS, ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS, and INDIGO BUNTINGS have added colour to the mix. Someone reported a YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD today but provided no details as to its location, which would have been appreciated by other birders. There are a few ORCHARD ORIOLES in the Park. In the late finch category are PINE SISKINS at the feeders at 83 and 186 Bayshore Road and an EVENING GROSBEAKS at the feeders at 191 Bayshore Road on May 11.
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.