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Birding Report

No one can be disappointed with the birding at Presqu’ile Provincial Park in the past week.  At least three observers saw over 100 species in a day, and the OFO outing was highly successful.  A contributing factor has been the delayed appearance of leaves on the deciduous trees, which are just now beginning to leaf out, making it more difficult to spot warblers and other birds in the canopy.  Despite that, there will still be plenty of opportunities to find birds on the forthcoming Warblers and Whimbrels weekend.

There was an anonymous report of a CANVASBACK on three consecutive days.  A late RING-NECKED DUCK was seen on May 9.  Other diving ducks have become scarce, perhaps in part because of the increasing boat traffic, but 200 or more WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS were flying west over Owen Point at 6:30 p.m. yesterday, a phenomenon that has been observed under similar circumstances in years past, albeit a week or so later in the month.  RED-THROATED LOONS were in Popham Bay on three different days, with three birds seen on May 11.  A HORNED GREBE yesterday was rather late.

One estimate indicates that there are about 50 GREAT EGRET nests on High Bluff Island, some of which can be observed with a scope from the mainland.  There are also BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON nests there, but they are more difficult to see.  On one pass by Sebastopol Island, where they used to nest, three birds were spotted perched in the only tree.  On two different days a GREEN HERON was observed near the lighthouse.  A BALD EAGLE was seen on May 13 and a BROAD-WINGED HAWK was reported on May 12.  An AMERICAN COOT was in the marsh on May 10.  Two SANDHILL CRANES flew over Owen Point on Sunday, to the delight of participants in the OFO outing.  It may be a bit early for WHIMBRELS to show up this weekend, but other shorebirds have been trickling in:  BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS, SEMIPALMATED PLOVER, LEAST SANDPIPERS, SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER. Both ICELAND and GLAUCOUS GULLS were present on May 11.

It was just over a decade ago that a WHITE-WINGED DOVE and a YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD appeared at 83 Bayshore Road on this date.  Unexpected birds do show up at this time of year.  There has been a NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL calling at the Park gate on recent evenings.  A RED-HEADED WOODPECKER was in the day use area near Chatterton Point on May 9, and RED-BELLIED and PILEATED WOODPECKERS continue to be seen or heard almost every day. Two MERLINS were seen on May 9, and a PEREGRINE FALCON on May 12. 

Among the many Empidonax flycatchers at Presqu’ile this week were a reported YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER on May 9, which, if substantiated with details on a rare bird report, would constitute a record early date, and a WILLOW FLYCATCHER on May 14.  Two YELLOW-THROATED VIREOS were seen together on May 9.  Two PHILADELPHIA VIREOS have also appeared.  The BLUE JAY migration at the lighthouse is already in full swing. TUFTED TITMOUSE is almost an annual visitor to Presqu’ile, so the one reported this week would not be entirely unexpected, contrary to what the observer believed.  AMERICAN PIPITS were seen on two different days.

As expected in the lead-up to the Warblers and Whimbrels weekend, the focus of interest among most visiting birders has been the exceptional number and variety of warblers this week.  Among others, GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLERS were seen on two different days and BLUE-WINGED and ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS on three.   After eluding a number of birders throughout one day, a CERULEAN WARBLER that had been found in the morning was re-located twice more. Typically later-arriving warblers that have already appeared include NORTHERN PARULA and BAY-BREASTED, BLACKPOLL, CANADA, and WILSON’S WARBLERS.

CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS were found on three different days.  LINCOLN’S SPARROWS have been seen several times.  A DARK-EYED JUNCO on May 10 was late for that species.  An intriguing sighting on May 13 was of a bird that may be a hybrid between a DARK-EYED JUNCO and some other sparrow species. Interestingly, the same peculiar-looking bird was at Prince Edward Point the next day, where it was photographed. Crowd-pleasers that have been easy to find this week, in some cases ridiculously so, were SCARLET TANAGERS, ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS, INDIGO BUNTINGS, ORCHARD ORIOLES (eight in one tree), and BALTIMORE ORIOLES.  A few RUSTY BLACKBIRDS have been lingering beyond their normal due date for departure. One observer found three female PURPLE FINCHES.

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.

Fred Helleiner