Presqu’ile Bird Report for Week of 11-17 May 201
By Doug McRae
Uber Highlights: BLUE GROSBEAK, EURASIAN TREE SPARROW
Other Highlights: RED-THROATED LOON, SANDHILL CRANE, LITTLE GULL, SNOWY OWL,
RED-HEADED WOODPECKER, YELLOW-THROATED VIREO, HORNED LARK, GOLDEN AND
BLUE-WINGED WARBLER, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER
It was a great week of birding at Presqu’ile as migration was in full swing
with an especially stellar “fall-out” on 15 May, a good selection of scarce
birds, and two outstanding rarities.
Migrant/wintering waterfowl have largely left now but a scan of Presqu’ile Bay
in calm conditions on 17 May revealed seven GREATER and 12 LESSER SCAUP, five
REDHEAD, and two BUFFLEHEAD still hanging on. At dusk on the same day a flock
of 31 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS were heading west over the gate. About 200
LONG-TAILED DUCKS can still be seen off the Lighthouse.
RED-THROATED LOONS have been seen off Beach 1 most of the week with a high of
six on 12 May. Up to 55 GREAT EGRETS could be scoped on High Bluff Island from
Beach 1 on 12 May. Single SANDHILL CRANES were seen on 11 and 12 May.
Shorebirds can be found spread along the entire beach. LEAST SANDPIPER has been
the most numerous but others include BLACK-BELLIED AND SEMIPALMATED PLOVER,
DUNLIN as well as the regular breeding species. Eight SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS
on 14 May were the first of the year. The next two weeks are peak time for
Arctic bound shorebirds, which can occur in very large numbers when grounded by
adverse weather conditions. A first-summer LITTLE GULL on 16 May was a good
find, especially given how scarce BONAPARTE’S GULLS have been.
A BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO found on 14 May was a bit early; conversely a SNOWY OWL
on 11 May was extremely late. BARRED OWLS continue to be seen in the Newcastle
Woods. Woodpeckers have been conspicuous with all regularly occurring species
being seen. RED-HEADED WOODPECKER has been seen almost daily near the
Lighthouse and today a pair was watched at an occupied Downy Woodpecker nest,
possibly trying to usurp the Downy’s, who were franticly mobbing the Red-headed.
At least two YELLOW-THROATED VIREOS were seen on 14 and 15 May and the first
PHILADELPHIA VIREO was spotted on 13 May. Very out of season was a HORNED LARK
flushed from Bayshore Rd. by the Calf Pasture field on 16 May. BLUE-GRAY
GNATCATCHERS have been seen throughout the week, mostly near the Lighthouse.
Warblers were well represented with most regularly occurring species being
seen, and with a notable fall-out on the rainy morning of 15 May.
GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLERS were seen on 12 and 15 May. BLUE-WINGED WARBLERS were
seen throughout the week in small numbers. An ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER on 15 May
was a good find. Some of the later arriving species were noted including
MOURNING, BAY-BREATED, BLACKPOLL, WILSON’S and CANADA WARBLER on 15 May.
A SAVANNAH SPARROW on 16 May was presumably a late migrant since they have not
bred at Presqu’ile in many years. A mega rarity was the tame female BLUE
GROSBEAK discovered feeding on the shoulder of Paxton Dr. on the evening of 12
May and seen (and photographed) by a lucky few. This was the third park record.
An ebird report of a male on 16 May from the Lighthouse is tantalizing –
hopefully the observer will submit a detailed report. The other mega rarity
found this week was the EURASIAN TREE SPARROW seen briefly on 14 and 15 May
near the end of Bayshore Road. This is a new bird for the Park and may still
be around as there are many feeders at homes that are not visible from the
road, and very few people are here looking for it.
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.
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