HIGHLIGHTS: Red Knot, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Whip-poor-will
Please note that the annual waterfowl hunt at Presqu’ile starts this Saturday (25 Sep) and involves access restrictions to most of the best birding areas in the Park. See below for details.
It was another solid week of birding, although perhaps not quite as busy as the previous week. Waterfowl numbers are building, especially the diving duck flock (mostly Redhead and scaup) in Popham Bay which now numbers in the hundreds. Shorebirds are dividing time between the Islands and the beach. Once again most expected songbirds were seen but in slightly reduced numbers from last week. That said we can still expert some strong waves of birds moving on favourable weather systems.
For those wishing to go to Gull Is. the wade across is about 100m and knee-deep at the deepest point and is generally flat with good footing on gravel. Larger rocks may have algae that can be slippery so be careful. There can be a fairly strong current, depending on wind and such, so be alert when crossing. Finally there has been an explosive growth of vegetation on Gull Is. compared to recent years with thick mats of lambs quarter, smartweed and especially stinging nettles so long pants are a good idea.
Trumpeter Swan: The first reports since spring were of eight on 18 Sep and two the following day.
Blue-winged Teal: Numbers in the duck flock around the islands continue to build as migrants arrive; peak count was 50 on 18 Sep.
American Wigeon: Building numbers of this species peaked at 80 on 18 Sep.
Ring-necked Duck: Two were seen on 17 Sep and numbers should start building up shortly.
Red-necked Grebe: Singles on 18 Sep and 19 Sep were the only reports.
Green Heron: Two were noted on 18 Sep and one the next day.
Horned Grebe: Numbers are present off the beach and islands in Popham Bay with a peak count of 65 on 23 Sep.
American Golden Plover: A single bird was seen 19 and 20 Sep.
Killdeer: This species usually vacates the park right after breeding and is often quite scarce in the fall. A young of the year on 18-19 Sep was the first in several weeks.
Red Knot: A juv. on the north side of Gull Is. on 23 Sep was the first of fall. Surveys done earlier this year in spring migration concentration points suggest that this endangered species, which is a Presqu’ile regular in both spring and fall, continues to decline alarmingly.
Baird’s Sandpiper: One on 19 Sep was the last report, although others can be expected for another few weeks.
White-rumped Sandpiper: Two adults were seen on Sebastopol Is. on 23 Sep, which I believe are the first records here this fall.
Buff-breasted Sandpiper: One seen on 17 Sep was likely the same bird from last week.
Lesser Black-backed Gull: A near adult was seen on 17 Sep for the first sighting since early summer.
Whip-poor-will: This species goes virtually undetected when not singing, so two calling briefly on the night of 17 Sep was a nice find.
Peregrine Flacon: Singles were reported on 17 Sep and 18 Sep.
Blue Jay: Migrant flocks of Blue Jays were noticed on several days with NW winds. The high count was 63 on 18 Sep but much bigger counts will be tallied over the next few weeks.
American Pipit: Birds are being seen daily, especially on Gull Is. with a peak count of 40 on 19 Sep.
Yellow Warbler: As noted last week this common breeder usually leaves very early - typically by Labour Day – so ongoing sightings this week are most surprising. Two were reported on 17 Sep, and singles were reported on 19 Sep, and 23 Sep.
Rusty Blackbird: This boreal breeder arrived this week with the first sighting being 2 on 18 Sep, with a high count of 15 on 21 Sep.
Purple Finch: One on 17 Sep was only the second report in several months.
Please Note: Presqu’ile Provincial Park permits waterfowl hunting in fall from Saturday 25 September until Saturday 18 Dec on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Access to the marsh (other than the Marsh Boardwalk Trail), Calf Pasture Point, Gull Island and High Bluff Island is closed to all park users except registered hunters on those days. Once blinds are placed on Owen Pt. on 15 November, the whole of the Point to the High Bluff Campground will also be closed.
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.