With many birders visiting Presqu'ile Provincial Park on the weekend, it is not surprising that some rarities were among the great variety of birds spotted before the cool weather set in. Even the bird banding produced record numbers and a good variety of species. The coming weekend will see the celebrity birders (aka young ornithologists) seeking to raise funds for the Ontario Field Ornithologists by doing a 24-hour birdathon in the Presqu'ile area.
A flock of 40 BRANT flew over on May 16 and another two flocks were seen yesterday. Once again the wing-tagged TRUMPETER SWAN was seen in Presqu'ile Bay. Although the migration of dabbling ducks has surely ended, seven species were seen in the Park in the past week, including a BLUE-WINGED TEAL and five NORTHERN SHOVELERS. Two REDHEADS and two LESSER SCAUP were still lingering this week. Hundreds of LONG-TAILED DUCKS offshore in Lake Ontario on May 18 were probably staging before departing for the Arctic. Other diving ducks this week included a late BUFFLEHEAD and a late COMMON GOLDENEYE, as well as both COMMON and RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS. It appears that WILD TURKEYS have become established in small numbers in the Park, as one was again seen this week. Single, rather late RED-THROATED LOONS were seen on May 17 and 18. A LEAST BITTERN was flying in the marsh. Two GREAT EGRETS were on High Bluff Island on May 17 and BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS continue to occupy Sebastopol Island. A GREEN HERON was seen on May 15. There are a few Presqu'ile records of the rare ibises of the Plegadis genus, most of which do not differentiate between GLOSSY IBIS and WHITE-FACED IBIS, two very similar species. If the one seen and photographed at Owen Point on May 17 was a GLOSSY IBIS, as seems likely from circumstantial evidence, that would be a first confirmed and documented record for Presqu'ile. The only noteworthy hawks this week were a COOPER'S HAWK and a MERLIN.
Shorebird numbers have begun to build up but have not yet reached the hundreds that can be expected within the next week or two. Today there were about 15 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS, but the most exciting plover was a banded PIPING PLOVER on Sunday, probably the same bird as the one seen nine days earlier. It is worth double-checking any pale plovers at this time of year, as a similar-looking SNOWY PLOVER, initially misidentified as a PIPING PLOVER, spent a week at Presqu'ile fourteen years ago, beginning on May 24. SOLITARY SANDPIPERS were seen on two different days. A GREATER YELLOWLEGS flew over on Tuesday and a LESSER YELLOWLEGS was seen on Monday. The first two WHIMBREL flocks, totalling 32 birds, arrived yesterday. Both RED KNOTS and SANDERLINGS can be expected soon. Yesterday and today, a group of shorebirds at Owen Point included a few SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS, a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER, and a couple of dozen DUNLINS. Ten SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS were present on Monday. The weekend provided several opportunities to observe WILSON'S PHALAROPES. The first was a bright female photographed on Saturday. Then on Sunday a female and two males appeared, and on Monday a single male was still present. There were still two BONAPARTE'S GULLS this morning and an ICELAND GULL was seen on Saturday.
GREAT HORNED OWL, BARRED OWL, and COMMON NIGHTHAWK put in appearances. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS have been particularly vociferous. Among the late-arriving flycatchers, there were OLIVE-SIDED, YELLOW-BELLIED, ALDER, and WILLOW FLYCATCHERS in the Park. At least three PHILADELPHIA VIREOS were seen. Two COMMON RAVENS were seen on Tuesday and one on Wednesday. A HORNED LARK was seen on Saturday. A pair of BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS and a single bird were also seen. Four EASTERN BLUEBIRDS in the calf pasture were unusual for this late date. Three AMERICAN PIPITS were seen on Saturday. The warbler migration has slowed at least temporarily, with a GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER on Saturday and numerous BLACKPOLL WARBLERS and a few MOURNING WARBLERS being seen. CLAY-COLORED SPARROWS are regularly being found in the calf pasture. At least five LINCOLN'S SPARROWS were seen. A RUSTY BLACKBIRD on May 15 was rather late for that species. Other species of interest this week were ORCHARD ORIOLES (many), PURPLE FINCHES, and a late PINE SISKIN on May 19.
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.