Presqu’ile Bird Report for the week of 4-10 May 2018 By Doug McRae
Highlights: RED-THROATED LOON, LEAST BITTERN, PIPING PLOVER, SNOWY OWL, RED-HEADED WOODPECKER, OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER, BLUE-WINGED WARBLER, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, COMMON REDPOLL
It has been a great week of birding at the Park with significant movements on several days, bringing in a host of new arrivals. Given the “pleasant” weather, many birds likely by-passed the shoreline and flew directly to breeding sites further inland.
Waterfowl have thinned out significantly over the week although most species are still present. Three SURF SCOTER found off the Lighthouse on 5 May had grown to six by weeks’ end. LONG-TAILED DUCKS remain in good numbers with 780 noted on 5 May and down to 425 by 9 May. BUFFLEHEAD dropped from 115 on 5 May to 16 by 9 May. A female HOODED MERGANSER was noted on the causeway (Presqu’ile Parkway) on 6 May. RED-THROATED LOONS were seen several times off the beach when the lake was calm with a high count of 5 on 9 May, and a single was seen at the Lighthouse today. A RED-NECKED GREBE was seen off Coot Lookout on 9 May, and another spent most of the week offshore from the Whistling Duck restaurant on Harbour Street, just east of the Park. A HORNED GREBE there on 5 May was the last reported.
LEAST BITTERNS put in a strong showing with the first on 5 May at two sites, followed by additional records on 8 May (2) and 9 May (3). The first GREEN HERON was on 4 May. The pair of nesting OSPREY at the Salt Pt. lighthouse was busy rebuilding their nest, which blew off the top during the 4 May wind storm. A VIRGINIA RAIL called frequently all week from the observation tower at the Marsh Boardwalk Trail and SORA was heard at two sites on 9 May. A pair of COMMON GALLINULES has set up a territory by the Camp Office Viewing Deck.
Shorebirds ramped up this week, and the many algae-filled pools on the beach look most inviting for the large numbers that will pass by in the next few weeks. Of the 13 species reported this week the highlight was unquestionably the colour-banded PIPING PLOVER seen briefly on the beach on 7 May. Thirteen LESSER YELLOWLEGS on 6 May was a good count as was the 42 LEAST SANDPIPER on 9 May.
The two ROCK PIGEONS on 5 May are scarce in the Park. A SNOWY OWL spent the day on a hydro pole just outside the Park on the very late date of 4 May. Two BARRED OWLS flew through Newcastle Woods during the day on 9 May. An early COMMON NIGHTHAWK was spotted roosting in the Fingers on 6 May. Woodpeckers have been fantastic and conspicuous this week with all the regularly occurring species seen, included the first RED-HEADED WOODPECKER on 6 May. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS continue to solidify their numbers and can now be found in most mature forest areas. An OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER at the Calf Pasture on 9 May was on the early side. The first LEAST FLYCATCHER was on 5 May. All the swallows have now been seen. During the massive wind storm on 4 May, 120 BANK SWALLOW and 35 BARN SWALLOW were seen from the marsh Boardwalk trail streaming west into the wind.
BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS were seen throughout the week in small numbers, mostly near the Lighthouse or along the eastern part of Paxton Dr. Some 22 species of warblers were reported, although for most species numbers are not yet peaking. Highlights included BLUE-WINGED WARBLER on several dates, including one bird photographed that had the bright yellow wing patch of a Golden-winged. A bird heard singing a GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER song was not visually confirmed, therefore possibly a hybrid. An ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, scarce in spring, was heard and seen on 6 May and a WILSON’S WARBLER on 10 May was slightly early. Spring favourites like SCARLET TANAGER and ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK all arrived this week.
The first BOBOLINKS were seen flying over on 6 May, and up to six RUSTY BLACKBIRDS were still present on that date. The first ORCHARD ORIOLE arrived on 8 May and BALTIMORE ORIOLES arrived in numbers. Most unexpected was the one-day appearance of a COMMON REDPOLL at a Bayshore Rd. feeder on 5 May – the only redpoll reported here all winter. A PINE SISKIN at the same feeder the next day was also strange given how scarce this species has been this winter.
Presqu’ile Provincial Park is located on the north shore of Lake Ontario, just south of the town of Brighton. It can be reached from either Hwy. 401 or Cty. Rd. 2 and is well signed. A Park map can be found in the information tabloid available at the Park gate. Presqu’ile’s two offshore islands – Gull and High Bluff – support a large multi-species colonial bird nesting area and access is not permitted during the breeding season.