Again this week, well over 100 species of birds have been in Presqu'ile Provincial Park. Among them were some that were arriving unexpectedly early in the fall and others that were lingering a bit later than usual, as well as some that would be considered uncommon by some and downright rare by others.
Also this week, the elusive BRANT has put in another appearance, actually two - on the south side of Gull Island on Sunday and on the north side on Monday. Less elusive are the two TRUMPETER SWANS that are being seen on most days around Gull Island. The REDHEAD flock off Sebastopol Island has grown to about 30 birds. The only new duck for this season was a female BUFFLEHEAD with the REDHEADS on September 9. HORNED GREBES should be showing up there within days. An estimated 30 COMMON MERGANSERS were off Gull Island for a couple of days. Five or more WILD TURKEYS crossed Atkins Lane this morning. A COMMON NIGHTHAWK was seen on Sunday. Among the shorebirds frequenting Owen Point and Gull Island are a RED KNOT (two on Saturday), an early DUNLIN on September 13 and 14, and a SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER also on those dates. BAIRD'S SANDPIPERS continue to be seen almost daily. One of the highlights of the week was an adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL on the beach that was first discovered on Saturday and seen again three days later. One or two GREEN HERONS can usually be seen in the woodpile marsh. Notable hawks seen this week include an immature BALD EAGLE and two COOPER'S HAWKS (one of which was scolding two BARRED OWLS in Jobes' woods), as well as MERLINS and a PEREGRINE FALCON. Unquestionably, the most surprising find was a banded LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE that was photographed on Gull Island this morning. This endangered species had not been seen at Presqu'ile for a number of years. There were several COMMON RAVEN sightings this week, including a group of three yesterday morning. A late BARN SWALLOW was at the lighthouse on Sunday. A BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER was seen on September 12, the first RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET of the fall on September 11, and an AMERICAN PIPIT on September 12. Again this week, warblers have been too numerous to itemize. At least 20 species have been represented in the flocks that have appeared in many parts of the Park. It is at this time of year that NELSON'S SPARROWS show up on Gull Island with some regularity. An immature DARK-EYED JUNCO that was photographed on Sunday was surprisingly early and may have been hatched locally. A remarkable 125 COMMON GRACKLES were flying out of the marsh on Sunday morning.
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 shin-deep water (not allowing for waves) in which there is often a swift current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven and slippery.
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.