The upcoming weekend is the annual Warblers and Whimbrels weekend at Presqu'ile Provincial Park. Recent rare sightings are auspicious (derived from the Latin auspex = birdwatcher), and the fact that the weekend comes a few days later than in recent years makes it more likely that WHIMBRELS will actually put in an appearance.
The first flock of BRANT, about 60 birds, flew past on Friday, with others expected imminently. There was a third-hand report of five SURF SCOTERS at Owen Point on May 18. A WILD TURKEY was in the Park on May 17. Three RED-THROATED LOONS in alternate (breeding) plumage were in Popham Bay on May 18. A LEAST BITTERN was photographed off the camp office viewing platform this afternoon. A GREAT EGRET on High Bluff Island was apparently attending a nest. At dusk on May 17, a BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON flew over the marsh. A COOPER'S HAWK was sighted on May 18. On May 16 there were two independent sightings of a BROAD-WINGED HAWK, reportedly vocalizing. Belatedly, information came in about a SANDHILL CRANE standing in the "pannes" last week.
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS have returned to the beach. On May 14, a PIPING PLOVER was reported. This afternoon there was yet another sighting of a PIPING PLOVER on beach 2. A SOLITARY SANDPIPER was in the "pannes" on Tuesday. An unprecedented flock of 14 HUDSONIAN GODWITS was on Gull Island today. Other newly returned shorebirds include RUDDY TURNSTONE, SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER, and SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER, with RED KNOTS expected soon. A tern suspected of being an ARCTIC TERN that was perched briefly on Owen Point today would not be outside the time frame during which the species has occasionally been seen at Presqu'ile.
Twice this week, campers in High Bluff campground heard a GREAT HORNED OWL nearby. They also saw a BARRED OWL flying past the marsh boardwalk viewing tower. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS and COMMON RAVENS have become a staple of the Presqu'ile avifauna and were seen repeatedly this week. A PHILADELPHIA VIREO was seen on May 15. The BLUE JAY migration, which takes place over the lighthouse in late May, has been gaining steam for a week or two. On the really cold mornings this week, dozens of swallows of six species, including CLIFF SWALLOW, were skimming the surface of the water near the lighthouse. BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS are being seen regularly near the lighthouse. On Friday and Saturday, a NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD entertained the cottagers at 38 Bayshore Road. No rarities were among the 24 warbler species seen in the past week, but an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER and a MOURNING WARBLER on May 17, and a CANADA WARBLER on May 14 (all three attracted by pishing) were of interest. The first LINCOLN'S SPARROW of the season was found on May 17. A few ORCHARD ORIOLES have been around the lighthouse area.
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.