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Birding Report This being the last full day of summer, birders at Presqu'ile Provincial Park will find fewer insectivorous birds and more seed-eaters. The past week has produced its share of both, as well as a good mixture of water birds and shorebirds. It also produced a crank for raising a tripod, found on a trail near the lighthouse, which can be claimed from the address below.
Horned Grebes are seen almost daily off Gull Tombolo (the former Gull Island), and Red-necked Grebes have been seen both there and in Presqu'ile Bay. A Great Egret was on Sebastopol Island on September 15, and Black-crowned Night-Herons have also been seen there. A Surf Scoter was at the lighthouse on September 15, and White-winged Scoters are appearing in small numbers. The ducks that have been congregating around Sebastopol Island and in the cove at the calf pasture will likely move on after Saturday, the opening day of the duck hunting season.
Along with the usual hawks migrating past Presqu'ile (primarily Northern Harriers, Sharp-shinned Hawks, American Kestrels, and Merlins), there was also a Bald Eagle on September 16. A Broad-winged Hawk was reported in Jobes' Woods on September 20, a species that, like most other buteos, is uncommon or even rare at Presqu'ile. It appears that the Peregrine Falcon seen by many observers on September 9 had been banded in Pennsylvania or New York.
What are presumed to be family groups of Ruffed Grouse were flushed at Owen Point (2 birds) and at the lighthouse (5 birds). Two American Coots could be seen from the calf pasture on September 16. With good numbers of Sandhill Cranes being reported to the north in recent days, birders at Presqu'ile should also be on the lookout for that species, one of which flew over two years ago this week. Among the 13 species of shorebirds found at Presqu'ile in the past week, the most reliable have been Black-bellied Plovers, American Golden-Plovers, Whimbrels (usually four but today only one), and Sanderlings. Both species of yellowlegs stopped briefly on September 21, and a rather late Spotted Sandpiper was also seen on that date. A Ruddy Turnstone stayed for several days on Sebastopol Island. Up to four Baird's Sandpipers were present earlier in the week. Dunlins are also beginning to show up.
On this, the anniversary of last year's Laughing Gull sighting, birders are scanning the growing flocks of Bonaparte's Gulls for signs of any different gull. Except for one's and two's, Caspian Terns and Common Terns have almost all departed, but Forster's Terns were seen late last week both in Presqu'ile Bay (two birds) and in Popham Bay.
Numbers of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and flycatchers have dwindled greatly, but a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher was seen on September 16. Blue Jays have been migrating past the lighthouse on recent mornings, but the big flocks have yet to come. A Barn Swallow was seen on September 15. A Golden-crowned Kinglet was found on September 20, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets have become common. A Gray-cheeked Thrush was seen on September 16. The warbler flocks are now dominated by Yellow-rumped Warblers, but at least eleven other species were in the Park in the past week, as well as a few Scarlet Tanagers. Rusty Blackbirds have shown up in several locations.
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. It should be noted that, after September 22, because duck hunting is given priority on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Gull Island, High Bluff Island, and part of the calf pasture are not available for bird-watching on those days. For the first time in several years, however, birders and others will be permitted at Owen Point on hunting days, at least for the first few weeks of the hunting season.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.