The surge of migrant land birds at Presqu'ile Provincial Park last Sunday is only partly responsible for the flurry of interesting bird reports on that day. Another factor, often noted in the past, is the logical correlation between the number of visiting birders on that day and the number of sightings.
On November 14, a flock of eight Tundra Swans flew over the peninsula. Over 400 Green-winged Teal were counted on November 10, mostly along the beaches. A few Canvasbacks, Redheads, and Ruddy Ducks can usually be spotted by a careful scan of the Greater Scaup flocks if the viewing conditions are good. Good numbers of White-winged Scoters are far out in Lake Ontario. As many as eight Hooded Mergansers have been in the marsh near the bird sightings board throughout the past week. Common Loons, numbering up to at least 200, have been accompanied by a few Red-throated Loons. Eleven of the latter were in Popham Bay on November 11. There are fewer Horned Grebes than a week ago, but about 50 were estimated on November 13. No more than four Double-crested Cormorants were seen on any single day in the past week, a noticeable scarcity compared to last month.
Raptors seen in the past week were a few each of Northern Harriers over High Bluff Island, Sharp-shinned Hawks (one of which was observed catching an American Goldfinch), Red-tailed Hawks, and Rough-legged Hawks, and a late Merlin on November 10, as well as a Barred Owl.
The flock of American Coots off Bayshore Road has grown to about 130 birds. The previously reported Ruddy Turnstone on Sebastopol Island was still present on November 15. Most of the shorebirds this week have been Dunlins (over 100 on November 11), but 19 Sanderlings and 12 White-rumped Sandpipers were also seen on that date. Repeated searches have not yet turned up any Purple Sandpipers. A gaggle of snipe? A murder of snipe? A probing of snipe? Whatever the appropriate collective noun, for over a week a large number of Wilson's Snipe (26 on November 15, along with a late Pectoral Sandpiper) has been on the mud flats at the foot of Ontario Street, just outside the Park. At least one Little Gull was seen in the past few days.
Single Belted Kingfishers at the causeway leading into the Park and at the calf pasture may stay now until freeze-up. Northern Shrikes have been seen this week in three different parts of the park. A record late Blue-headed Vireo was near Owen Point on November 11. Carolina Wrens, probably two different birds, have been irregular visitors to the feeders at 83 and 186 Bayshore Road. The few Ruby-crowned Kinglets seen up to November 13 are unlikely to stay much longer. A surprisingly late Swainson's Thrush appeared on three consecutive days at the bird bath behind 83 Bayshore Road, but has not been seen since the record late date of November 13. American Pipits were heard at Gull Island on November 11, but no actual sightings were made in the past week. Yellow-rumped Warblers were seen in one's and two's for the past three days in different parts of the Park. Several late sparrows have been frequenting the feeders and shrubbery at 83 Bayshore Road, including a Chipping Sparrow on November 14 and 15, two Fox Sparrows as recently as November 15, and two White-crowned Sparrows not seen since November 13.
An estimated 160 Snow Buntings were near Owen Point on November 9. A good variety of winter finches has been present this week. Small flocks of Pine Grosbeaks and Common Redpolls are turning up almost every day in various locations. Two Purple Finches stopped to feed at 83 Bayshore Road. A Red Crossbill was seen at 191 Bayshore Road on November 11. Pine Siskins are numerous at feeders and elsewhere. Evening Grosbeaks were seen on November 15 at two different feeders.
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, because duck hunting is given priority on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Owen Point, Gull Peninsula, Sebastopol Island, High Bluff Island, and part of the calf pasture are not available for bird-watching on those days.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.