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: Piping Plover, American White Pelican, Cerulean Warbler, Prairie Warbler
OVERVIEW: More birds were returning on schedule this week, but as in the past few weeks, we have yet to see a big push in terms of numbers. A few rarities spiced up the birding, although nothing in the class of last week’s Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. Most waterfowl that aren’t going to breed here have moved on, with the exception of Long-tailed Ducks which are still common far offshore when calm conditions allow them to be seen. Shorebirds are trickling in but we are still awaiting the first big push. Lots of first-of-year (FOY) songbirds came in.
Scaup spp: A bird far out in Popham Bay on 10 May was the last report.
Ring-necked Duck: Two on 6 May were the last reported.
White-winged Scoter: Present in small numbers with a high of 24 on 9 May.
Long-tailed Duck: Present through the week, mostly far offshore, with a high of 325 on 6 May.
Hooded Merganser: Four on 10 May and two the next day were the first reports in several weeks.
Horned Grebe: Two on 6 May was the only report.
Red-necked Grebe: One on 6 May was the first report this spring.
Whip-poor-will: Two were heard on 10 May.
Black-bellied Plover: Single were reported on 6 May and 10 May.
Piping Plover: The two birds that first showed up in early May are showing signs of nesting (building scrapes, displaying) but no nest has been established yet. The Ontario Parks Piping Plover crew have fenced off the area that seems to be of most interest to the birds in hopes of minimizing disturbance from other beach goers. Birders and photographers can help these birds greatly by giving them space, and hopefully we will be reporting on nests in the near future. This Endangered species, which nested here regularly likely into the 1960’s, has only bred here once in recent decades (2016), and an egg was laid last year but the bird didn’t incubate or apparently have a mate. Colour bands indicate that the male of this pair was born at Wasaga Beach in 2020 and the female was raised last year at Darlington Prov. Park.
Red-throated Loon: Two on 6 May and one on 12 May were the only reports.
American White Pelican: A single bird flew over the gate area on 6 May. This species is increasing and moving east and is now breeding regularly on Lake Erie. It is not a stretch to think that one day they may nest here if the expansion continues.
Least Bittern: Two different were reported on 11 May.
Red-tailed Hawk: An adult over the gate on 6 May was the first in several weeks
Red-headed Woodpecker: Present through the week with one nesting pair getting established and several migrants reported with a delightful high of five on 12 May. It is clear that over the past few years this Threatened species is experiencing a slight recovery!
American Kestrel: One on 8 May was the first in several weeks.
Peregrine Falcon: An adult soaring over the gate on 11 May was being dive-bombed by Purple Martins.
Eastern Wood-Pewee: Two on 10 May were the FOY.
Least Flycatcher: The first report was one on 10 May.
Red-eyed Vireo: A single on 10 May was the FOY.
Northern Rough-winged Swallow: This former nester has become quite scarce in recent years. Two seen on 12 May was the only report.
Bank Swallow: Sadly the same applies to this former nester – a single on 6 May was the only report.
Veery: The FOY was a single seen on 8 May.
American Pipit: One was over the beach on 6 May.
Ovenbird: Two on 10 May were the FOY.
Golden-winged Warbler: It was a big week for this scarce migrant with four birds reported on 12 May.
Blue-winged Warbler: Singles were reported on 9 May and 12 May.
Tennessee Warbler: The FOY was a single on 11 May.
American Redstart: The first of year was a single on 10 May.
Cerulean Warbler: A female was seen on 10 May. This rare migrant is seen once or twice per year on average.
Magnolia Warbler: Two on 10 May were the FOY.
Bay-breasted Warbler: Two on 11 May was the FOY.
Prairie Warbler: This rare migrant might be recorded here 3-4 times in a five year span so a male on 9 May was notable.
Scarlet Tanager: One on 10 May was the FOY.
Indigo Bunting: One on 10 May was the FOY.
Bobolink: Three males over the gate on 10 May were the FOY.
Rusty Blackbird: Late birds were seen on 11 and 12 May.
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.
Please Note: Gull and High Bluff Island are closed to visitors from 10 March to 10 September. Large numbers of colonial nesting birds breed there and are greatly disturbed when people go into the colonies.
A seasonal or daily permit is required when visiting Presqu’ile. You can purchase a daily vehicle permit online in advance of your visit online or by phone. Ontario Parks recommends you make a reservation during periods of high visitation to guarantee entry. Reserve here: https://reservations.ontarioparks.com or by calling 1-888-668-7275