At least one birder finding over 100 species of birds in a single day demonstrates what a good week this has been for birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park. Inevitably, several species that some would consider to be rarities were in the Park in the past week.
A small group of BRANT were on Sebastopol Island on May 20. Two different observers found a TRUMPETER SWAN in the marsh. A pair of NORTHERN SHOVELERS has been frequenting the shores of Popham Bay, most recently today. A few REDHEADS have also been there. A surprisingly late male COMMON GOLDENEYE was there yesterday and a female HOODED MERGANSER on May 21. A WILD TURKEY was heard on May 21. Up to five RED-THROATED LOONS were in Popham Bay, three of which were closer to shore than usual. None could be found today. A high count of 13 GREAT EGRETS on High Bluff Island is down significantly from last year's numbers. Other herons of interest were GREEN HERONS and BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS on both May 20 and May 22. Two COOPER'S HAWKS and a BROAD-WINGED HAWK were the most interesting raptors. A remarkable report of ten VIRGINIA RAILS is the only report of that species at Presqu'ile this year despite many birders visiting potential habitat for that species.
The shorebird migration reached a peak on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, with hundreds of individuals and fifteen species showing up - and it is likely not over yet. The highlight and the main attraction for many birders and many of the general public has been the continuing presence of three banded PIPING PLOVERS on the beach. Since two of them have shown signs that they might be breeding (which has not been confirmed to have happened at Presqu'ile for 100 years), the Park has wisely cordoned off the area most frequented by the birds and has discouraged anyone from approaching even the roped off area. The first WHIMBREL of the season was a lone individual on Gull Island on May 20. Another flock flew over on May 22, and small numbers were present yesterday. A RED KNOT was on Gull Island on Tuesday and three flew over the beach that evening. Both sightings were of birds that were embedded in flocks of hundreds of DUNLINS. A WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER was reported yesterday. An estimated 100 CASPIAN TERNS were seen on Saturday. There was an interesting report of two or three FORSTER'S TERNS, a species that is quite rare at Presqu'ile.
By this date, BLACK-BILLED CUCKOOS have normally shown up but none has been reported yet. GREAT HORNED OWLS are apparently regular on High Bluff Island. A BARRED OWL was photographed in Newcastle woods not far from the lighthouse. COMMON NIGHTHAWKS have been moving through the eastern end of the Park for the past two evenings. EASTERN WHIP-POOR-WILLS were heard at two widely separated parts of the Park. A surprising number of RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS entertained visitors on the weekend, perhaps as many as four, and another was still around yesterday. One observer found a nest of RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS. OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHERS appear in small numbers in most years late in May and may be expected in the coming week. WILLOW FLYCATCHERS are already here. Two COMMON RAVENS were seen on Sunday and one was near the lighthouse this morning. Three CLIFF SWALLOWS were among six swallow species seen on Sunday. BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS were seen on two different days. One observer found a female EASTERN BLUEBIRD near beach 2. Two GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSHES this morning were the first of the season.
The warbler migration has slowed down a bit but is far from over. Ten species were in one small clump of trees this afternoon and a dozen or more other species have been recorded in the past week. The highlights were a LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH found in Jobes' woods on May 22, GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLERS on May 19 and 26, and a BLUE-WINGED WARBLER on May 22. Other rare warblers can still show up, as was the case five years ago, when a HOODED WARBLER and a PROTHONOTARY WARBLER appeared on May 28 and June 2, respectively. Interesting sparrow sightings in the past week included CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, VESPER SPARROW, and LINCOLN'S SPARROW. As is the case every year, ORCHARD ORIOLES are being seen in several places.
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 from March 10 onward 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.