Although November is usually a quiet month for birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park and the fall migration has slowed down noticeably, the past week continued to yield rarities, one in particular attracting visitors from afar.
Both on October 30 and on November 4 TUNDRA SWANS were seen flying over, 8 and 14 birds, respectively. A BLUE-WINGED TEAL flying over the marsh yesterday was the first in several weeks. Three NORTHERN SHOVELERS and three NORTHERN PINTAILS were also there. Flocks of many thousands of diving ducks, probably mostly GREATER SCAUP, were off the lighthouse and in Popham Bay this morning. A SURF SCOTER was reported last Friday, and WHITE-WINGED and BLACK SCOTERS are being seen in small numbers almost every day. A group of nine RUDDY DUCKS was off beach 1 on November 2. RED-NECKED GREBES were seen on two consecutive days. This is the month when, in two previous years, NORTHERN GANNETS have been seen. A probable ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, the first of the season if correctly identified, was perched on High Bluff Island this morning. Among the eight shorebird species seen in the past week, one stands out as exceptional. Two observers spotted two RED PHALAROPES along the beach on November 3. One of the birds immediately disappeared but the other stayed for two days, delighting many birders for some of whom this rare bird was a "lifer". It appears to have been the first record at Presqu'ile in nine years. The other seven shorebird species were within the normal range of dates but appeared in dwindling numbers. A LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL off Gull Island on Tuesday was the first of the season for that species, which is never common at Presqu'ile.
On two different days, a BARRED OWL was seen near the Park store. RED-BELLIED and PILEATED WOODPECKERS and MERLINS continue to be seen fairly regularly, but only one PEREGRINE FALCON was seen. A RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET on November 4 and a YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER on November 2 were rather late. FOX SPARROWS were seen on two different dates, including a group of six on October 31. Two BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS were in a small flock of RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS. Four PURPLE FINCHES were seen on November 4. Although PINE SISKINS have been seen flying over recently, the first one to appear at a feeder was this 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 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