Again this week, the birds have been plentiful at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, giving rise to hopes that the Ontario Field Ornithologists outing on Sunday, September 18 will be a satisfying one for the participants.
Unfortunately, this week's report continues the saga of dead and dying water birds in and around Popham Bay. Among other species that behaved as if they had only hours left to live were Common Loon and Red-necked Grebe. Three Horned Grebes far out in the bay on September 15 appeared normal, as did the forty or more Pied-billed Grebes in Presqu'ile Bay, visible from 38 Bayshore Road.
Except for three Wood Ducks in the marsh and two Redheads off 38 Bayshore Road, all of the interesting ducks have been in and around Popham Bay. The majority are Mallards, but among them there are also a good many American Wigeons, American Black Ducks, Blue-winged Teal, three Northern Pintails, and Green-winged Teal. Further offshore in Popham Bay there are Redheads, scaup, a Common Goldeneye
, a Hooded Merganser, and a few Red-breasted Mergansers.
An Osprey can sometimes be found at the calf pasture. A Red-shouldered Hawk, the only one found at the Park this year, was seen on September 10. Merlins appear at several different parts of the Park almost every day.
Four American Coots can usually be seen off 38 Bayshore Road. Shorebirds are reduced in number, but the variety remains good. An American Golden-Plover
has been seen on most days recently, either on Gull Island or on the beach. A Willet was at Owen Point on September 10. Four Whimbrels have also been frequenting Gull Island, and as recently as today there were still three there. The latest sighting of the two Red Knots that were at Presqu'ile from the beginning of the month was on September 9. On at least two days in the past week, a single Western Sandpiper was present. Four White-rumped Sandpipers were at Owen Point on September 12, and Baird's Sandpipers are there almost every day. A Dunlin was first seen there on September 12. The latest sighting of a Stilt Sandpiper was on September 9, after which many of the shorebirds moved on.
On September 12, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo was watched for an hour in the tree tops at 186 Bayshore Road. Most of the flycatchers have disappeared, but at the calf pasture they often linger later. A Great Crested Flycatcher was still there on September 12. Warbling
, and Red-eyed Vireos have all been around the lighthouse within the past week. A single Horned Lark has been on Gull Island all week. Many small birds have been escaping identification, if not detection, in the foliage of the lighthouse woods this week, but one observer was able to locate a Tufted Titmouse there on September 13. A Ruby-crowned Kinglet and a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher
were in that area on September 9. Gray-cheeked Thrushes have also been seen there. Over a dozen American Pipits are on Gull Island. Among the warblers seen recently are the following: Tennessee Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Northern Parula, Cape May Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Mourning Warbler, and Canada Warbler. The sighting of a Vesper Sparrow on September 10 is a reminder that others of that family will soon be returning. We can soon expect White-crowned Sparrows and perhaps Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrows to pass through Presqu'ile between their summer haunts in the north and their wintering grounds in the U.S.A.
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 should be prepared to wade through knee-deep water in which there is often a swift current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.