By Doug McRae
This report is primarily based on sightings gleaned from eBird, and those reported directly to me. I would be grateful to hear of any interesting sightings. You can reach me at email@example.com. Your observations are very much appreciated. If you are reporting something rare, please provide some details (exact location, ID features noted) or photographs if possible. Finally in order to try and keep the database as accurate as possible, eBird accounts submitted under false names or pseudonyms will not be used unless I know who the actual observer is.
HIGHLIGHTS: Brant, Glossy Ibis, Piping Plover, Wilson’s Phalarope, Iceland Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Prothonotary Warbler, Red Crossbill.
OVERVIEW: After weeks of opposing winds that greatly delayed and suppressed numbers the floodgates broke with days of warm weather and some southerly winds. Most of this migration went largely unseen as birds seemed to fly over and go straight to their breeding territories. Although there were no spectacular groundings, there were still lots of new birds arriving through the week. Most warblers have now arrived and this week the first push of Arctic nesting shorebirds started to appear. Not unexpectedly some fairly unusual birds were spotted as well.
Brant: 80 on 16 May and up to 150 on 20 May herald the start of the spring flight.
Ring-necked Duck: A pair floating far out in Popham Bay on 18 May were both late and in an unusually open water body
Greater Scaup: A late male was off Beach 1 from 17-20 May.
Lesser Scaup: 4 birds at Salt Pt. on 19 May was both late and unexpected.
White-wined Scoter: 165 birds moving west on 20 May is part of the late spring flight that occurs into early June.
Long-tailed Duck: 900 on 16 May was the high count this week, partly made possible by glass calm mornings making for exceptional scoping conditions.
Hooded Merganser: A female flew north out of the Park marsh into nearby woods on 17 May, suggesting likely breeding .
Red-throated Loon: One on 16 May was the only report.
American Bittern: As best as I can tell there may only be 3 territories in the Park this year, about half of the recent average and far below the dozen or so that used to nest here. In the odd bedfellows department, one was seen on 14 May flying with a Black-crowned Night-Heron heading in the direction of High Bluff Island where the Night-Herons breed.
Least Bittern: Birds were heard calling from several areas of
the marsh over the week.
Glossy Ibis: A stunning adult was discovered at the Brighton Constructed Wetland (south-east part of town on Cty Rd. 64) on 17 May and enjoyed by many the next day. Permits ($5.00) are required from the Municipality of Brighton to enter. See below for details.
Piping Plover: A colour-banded female was found at Owen Pt. on 16 May and stayed until 18 May. This bird nested on the south shore of Lake Erie at Presqu’ile State Park in 2020. She returned there this spring but her mate was already nesting with another plover. She left Presqu’ile PA on 14 May, was spotted in New York State on 15 May and arrived at Presqu’ile ON the next day! Keep looking – these birds float around.
Ruddy Turnstone: The first birds arrived on 16 May when 3 were found.
Sanderling: 5 birds on 19 May were the first of spring.
Least Sandpiper: An unusually high count of 100 was noted on 17 May.
White-rumped Sandpiper: One on 19 May was right on time for the first of year.
Short-billed Dowitcher: 3 birds of the eastern griseus subspecies were on Owen Pt. on 16-17 May.
Wilson’s Phalarope: There appears to be a large flight of these prairie birds into the east this year. 2 were on Beach 2 on 17 May, and another on Owen Pt. on 19 May.
Iceland Gull: A first summer bird was on the shoals off Owen Pt. on 20 May.
Lesser Black-backed Gull: A first summer bird, likely the same bird seen in previous weeks, was on the shoals off Owen Pt. on 20 May.
Rock Pigeon: This species is rarely seen in the Park so one on 19 May was interesting.
Yellow-billed Cuckoo: One was seen at the west end of Calf Pasture on 18 May.
Red-headed Woodpecker: The nesting pair in Newcastle woods is back for the third year and several others have been seen passing through. Excellent scoping conditions on 17 May allowed observers to spot one on tree tops on High Bluff Is. several kilometers away.
Yellow-throated Vireo: This very uncommon migrant was reported on 20 May.
American Pipit: The only report of spring was of a single going over Owen Pt. on 16 May.
Cedar Waxwing: This normally common species has been very scarce in recent months so 15 on 14 May may herald better numbers.
Golden-winged Warbler: 1 was seen on 15 May.
Blue-winged Warbler: Singles were seen on 15 May and 16 May.
Prothonotary Warbler: Apparently one was seen on 16 May by Park Staff but no details are known, and no one was notified until days later. This is a very rare species here.
Savannah Sparrow: This species does not nest in the park so singles on 17 May, 19 May, and 20 May are northbound migrants.
Dark-eyed Junco: This species is normally gone by early May but several were reported this week, with the last being 2 on 17 May.
Rusty Blackbird: One on 16 May was late.
Red Crossbill: Birds continue to be seen, mostly near the junction of Paxton Rd. and Atkins Lane with a high count of 20 on 17 May.
Pine Siskin: One was reported on 19 May.
Evening Grosbeak: The return flight continues with singles on 14 May and 16 May.
Permits for the Brighton Constructed Wetland can be obtained from the Municipal of Brighton office at 67 Sharp St., Brighton during weekdays. You can go to the town website, download the application and fill it out, then call Lisa at the Sharp St. office (613-475-1162 ext. 111). She will get a permit ready so when you stop by the office you can give her the $5 and she will have your permit ready.
Please Note: Access to Gull and High Bluff Island is closed to visitation between 10 March and 10 September to protect the thousands of colonial birds that nest on the islands.
Directions: Presqu’ile Provincial Park is located south of Brighton on the north shore of Lake Ontario. It is well signed from either Hwy. 401 or Cty. Rd. 2.
Doug McRae Shrew Solutions Inc. 240 Presqu’ile Parkway Brighton, Ontario K0K 1H0 613-475-5014 H 613-243-4161 C