Despite the influx of birders to Presqu'ile Provincial Park, looking unsuccessfully for the first PURPLE SANDPIPERS of the season, there has not been a lot of activity to report. What there is has been largely confined to the waters and shorelines.
In addition to the reliable MUTE SWANS, a single TRUMPETER SWAN was seen yesterday, and a few TUNDRA SWANS have appeared. Over 40 GADWALLS have congregated between Gull Island and High Bluff Island. For almost a month a small group of SURF SCOTERS has been in Presqu'ile Bay, usually between Salt Point and the lighthouse. WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS are also present there on most days. RUDDY DUCKS were in Popham Bay this morning. Among the six shorebird species still present in the past week were a late SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER and up to four WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS, both seen today. The number of DUNLINS keeps increasing, with almost 50 present today. The presence of seven apparently healthy GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS is a welcome change from recent years, when specimens of that species were continually washing up on shore at this time of year, apparently having succumbed to botulism.
Three different BARRED OWLS were found this morning. In recent years SHORT-EARED OWLS have shown up on Gull Island in early November, though this year there seems to be less evidence of vole activity there. A late NORTHERN FLICKER was seen this week. One observer saw a PILEATED WOODPECKER and heard another on the same day. A late BLUE-HEADED VIREO was at the lighthouse on November 1. Four HORNED LARKS were on Gull Island on Sunday. Land birds this week included WINTER WREN, RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET, HERMIT THRUSH, YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER, and FOX SPARROW. Icterids present this week and perhaps planning to stay for the winter were RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD, COMMON GRACKLE, and BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD. A few PURPLE FINCHES are still lingering, and PINE SISKINS show no sign of abandoning the feeders at 186 Bayshore Road.
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