Birding tours from far afield, ornithologically knowledgeable campers (you know who you are), and the residue of local birders (with some of the "regulars" unavailable) combined this week to amass a highly respectable list of over 130 bird species seen at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, only a sampling of which can be reported here. At least one other birding tour (an ornithology class from Trent University) will be visiting this weekend, hoping to find a good number of those birds and perhaps even stumble upon a mega-rarity like the SULPHUR-BELLIED FLYCATCHER that stayed for a few days in late September a few years ago.
Among the hundreds of CANADA GEESE gathered on the beach now that human disturbance is less than in the summer, it would not be unheard of to find a SNOW GOOSE among them. In the early part of the duck hunting season in the Park, dabbling ducks will be the primary target, so the few dozen (of half a dozen species) that have been present this week will likely become more difficult to approach. Among diving ducks, a raft of GREATER SCAUP and REDHEADS, along with a BUFFLEHEAD and HORNED and RED-NECKED GREBES, has remained safely far off shore in Popham Bay.
Flying past the lighthouse, three WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS were in a mixed flock of ducks that were otherwise too distant to identify. A GREEN HERON and a BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON were both seen this week, as were OSPREYS, BALD EAGLES, and PEREGRINE FALCONS. The only two gallinaceous birds known to be at Presqu'ile in the past three years, RUFFED GROUSE and WILD TURKEY, were both seen this week.
The mix of shorebirds at Owen Point and Gull Island now contains a preponderance of later-migrating species such as BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS, AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS, SANDERLINGS, and DUNLINS, but a few late stragglers this week have included a SPOTTED SANDPIPER, a very vocal WHIMBREL, several BAIRD'S SANDPIPERS, and a BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER that stayed around for a few days on Gull Island. Only one WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER was found, but more can be expected. Two phalaropes were too far off shore in Popham Bay to be identified as to species. Two AMERICAN WOODCOCKS were in unusual locations, one at the Government dock and another walking across the entrance road. Two COMMON TERNS on September 17 and one on September 21 were rather late.
GREAT HORNED OWLS and BARRED OWLS have been heard on several nights this week, as well as a WHIP-POOR-WILL. Another goatsucker, a COMMON NIGHTHAWK, was found on the late date of September 20. RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS were still present today. A RED-HEADED WOODPECKER on September 18 and several sightings of RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS were noteworthy. Two COMMON RAVENS have been vocal whenever they have been seen.
The CAROLINA WREN has been seen almost every day at 83 Bayshore Road. A few GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSHES were in the Park this week. At least twenty species of warblers were at Presqu'ile in the past week, including the first ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS of the fall and YELLOW and PINE WARBLERS.
SCARLET TANAGERS are still being seen as of today. An EASTERN TOWHEE has appeared at 83 Bayshore Road. FIELD, SAVANNAH, and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS and DARK-EYED JUNCOES have all appeared in the Park recently, which raises the possibility that a NELSON'S SPARROW may be lurking somewhere undetected as yet. LAPLAND LONGSPURS and INDIGO BUNTINGS have been seen in the past few days.
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. Visitors to Gull Island not using a boat should be prepared to wade through knee-deep water in which there is often a swift current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven and slippery. It should also be noted that, because duck hunting is given priority on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Gull Island, High Bluff Island, Owen Point, and part of the calf pasture are not available for bird-watching on those days after tomorrow, i.e., beginning on September 25. Birders are encouraged to record their observations on the bird sightings board provided near the campground office by The Friends of Presqu'ile Park and to fill out a rare bird report for species not listed there.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.