The bird life at Presqu`ile Provincial Park in the past week has been fairly typical for early October, but some exceptionally high numbers of certain species have provided surprises.
On both Saturday and Sunday, four TRUMPETER SWANS and three TUNDRA SWANS were on the beach, and at least two of the latter have been moving around Popham Bay since then, including today. There has been a build-up of dabbling ducks of at least five species in the marsh, easily seen from the camp office viewing deck. Among them on Monday was the first RING-NECKED DUCK of the season. Four WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS on Tuesday were the forerunners of anticipated large numbers, along with other scoters. A LONG-TAILED DUCK was in Presqu`ile Bay on Tuesday and Wednesday. A RUFFED GROUSE posed in the open for a photograph. Two RED-THROATED LOONS off Chatterson Point (the newly corrected name for the erstwhile Chatterton Point) were among an estimated 225 COMMON LOONS off the south shore of the peninsula on a perfectly calm lake on Tuesday. Also there were about 260 HORNED GREBES and seven RED-NECKED GREBES. An AMERICAN BITTERN was seen on Saturday and a BROAD-WINGED HAWK on Friday. There are still good numbers of shorebirds moving between the beach and the offshore islands. Among them have been up to 120 WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS. On the late side were a SPOTTED SANDPIPER on October 6 and a WHIMBREL on Gull Island, which was still there this morning and seems to be aiming to tie the late record on Sunday or exceed it on Monday. A CASPIAN TERN on Owen Point on October 5 was also late.
RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS are appearing in several parts of the Park. One or two MERLINS are being seen on most days, and a PEREGRINE FALCON was seen on October 4 and 6. Three COMMON RAVENS were seen on Friday and four TREE SWALLOWS on Sunday. Eleven years ago on October 10 a TUFTED TITMOUSE appeared and continued to stay for the winter. There is no other indication of when this species might migrate through Presqu`ile in the fall, but if that one record and the recent sighting of three individuals at a migration watch on Lake Erie are suggestive, observers should check the chickadee flocks carefully this month. A report of a SEDGE WREN was intriguing. GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSHES were seen on at least two occasions. Sixteen warbler species were seen in the past week, including two TENNESSEE WARBLERS and four ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS on October 2 and three species that were rather late: YELLOW WARBLER on October 5, CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER on October 4, and WILSON`S WARBLER on October 6. A LINCOLN`S SPARROW was seen on October 4. SCARLET TANAGERS were seen on October 2, 4, and 5.
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 water that is knee-deep, not taking into account any wave action, 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 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. 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