Despite the fact that record high lake water levels restricted access to some parts of the Park, most birders who came to Presqu'ile Provincial Park on the weekend found a good variety of birds.
Flocks of BRANT flew past on May 20 and 22. A BLUE-WINGED TEAL photographed on the flooded beach on May 19 was apparently the only one at Presqu'ile this spring. At this late date any sightings of Aythya ducks are of interest, but four species were seen on the weekend: CANVASBACK, REDHEAD, RING-NECKED DUCK, GREATER SCAUP. RUFFED GROUSE are being heard regularly, and three WILD TURKEYS were on one of the ski trails. Up to this point, the shorebird migration which is usually a feature of late May birding at Presqu'ile has been adversely affected by the limited habitat, though not quite a total washout. In the past there have been rarities during this period, including SNOWY PLOVER (May 24-31, 2001), WILSON'S PLOVER (May 26-27, 2006), and AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER (May 23-June 4, 1960), any of which could conceivably recur if lake water levels begin to recede. This weekend, there was a brief sighting at a very long distance of a plover that could have been either a SNOWY PLOVER or a PIPING PLOVER. On May 20, a high count of 16 SPOTTED SANDPIPERS was unusual, and at least 20 SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS found refuge in a flooded grassy area of the beach, where they posed for a photograph. A BONAPARTE'S GULL was also on the beach on that day.
A BARRED OWL in Newcastle woods was both seen and heard in broad daylight. RED-HEADED, RED-BELLIED (as many as five in one day), and PILEATED WOODPECKERS all appeared on the weekend. There were two MERLIN sightings on the weekend. There was a visual identification of an ALDER FLYCATCHER at the lighthouse on May 22. Four vireo species present on the weekend included YELLOW-THROATED VIREO and PHILADELPHIA VIREO. COMMON RAVEN sightings continue, as well as BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS. There was a report of a PROTHONOTARY WARBLER heard singing but not seen on the Owen Point trail. Among the many more common warbler species seen this week, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER and HOODED WARBLER were two other species that are not often seen in spring at Presqu'ile. Most of the sparrow migration has ended, but it is worth remembering that one of the two LARK SPARROW records from the Park was on May 29, fifteen years ago. A late RUSTY BLACKBIRD was heard singing on May 22. ORCHARD ORIOLES are now regular, as they are a summer bird in the Park.
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 Parkand 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.