With the exception of water birds, the autumn bird migration at Presqu'ile Provincial Park is now little more than a trickle. Yet there are still a few species that have not yet arrived but which may be expected before the end of this month.
One of the better locations for spotting water birds in the past week has been off Chatterton Point, between campsites 231 and 333, where 60 Common Loons were counted on October 31. Large numbers of Horned Grebes were also there late last week and a flock of about 90 American Black Ducks appears to have settled in there for the winter. Another good spot has been the outer part of Presqu'ile Bay, between Salt Point and the lighthouse, where over 100 Double-crested Cormorants and even more Red-breasted Mergansers have been attracting swarms of gulls. In the marsh opposite the bird sightings board, the commonest ducks are Mallards and Green-winged Teal, but a careful search will usually produce a few Wood Ducks, American Wigeons, and Northern Pintails and once in a while a Gadwall. Off 42 Bayshore Road, where Lilac Lane meets Bayshore, there is a growing flock of Redheads, Lesser Scaup, and American Coots, along with a handful of Pied-billed Grebes and Ring-necked Ducks and the first Canvasbacks of the season (two on October 31, one of which was still present on November 2). In Popham Bay, the largest flock of ducks consists of Greater Scaup, but a flock of about 30 Black Scoters has also been present for over a week, best seen from lookout #3 on the Owen Point trail or from Gull Island. Three Surf Scoters were with them on October 31. More and more Long-tailed Ducks are appearing every day, in Popham Bay and elsewhere. November is the month when, in the past, King Eiders have often been found at Presqu'ile. Almost all of the mergansers at Presqu'ile at this time of year are Red-breasted Mergansers, but a few Hooded Mergansers can be found almost every day, including a reliable female in the pond alongside the causeway joining The Pines and High Bluff campgrounds, and a few Common Mergansers are also showing up.
This is the first anniversary of the visit to the Park of a Gyrfalcon, but as yet no one has reported seeing one this year. If none appears, it will be the second time in the past four years that the species will have bypassed Presqu'ile.
The latest sighting of Black-bellied Plovers in the Park was on October 30. Sanderlings and Dunlins are still present. The first Purple Sandpiper of the season was on Sebastopol Island right on schedule on November 1, but it has not been seen since. Among the gulls that have been feeding on beach 1 and in Presqu'ile Bay, there was a Little Gull in both places and a Glaucous Gull, the first of the season, in the latter location on October 31.
Early in the morning of October 29, a Barred Owl was sitting on the roadside where Lighthouse Lane begins. A Red-eyed Vireo at the lighthouse on October 29 was exceptionally late. An American Pipit was on Gull Island on October 30. Two Yellow-rumped Warblers were seen on November 2. A Blackpoll Warbler feeding on the lawn at 186 Bayshore Road on October 30 was ten days later than the previous late date reported in Birds of Presqu'ile Provincial Park
. A Chipping Sparrow was at that address for two days this week, and a Vesper Sparrow was there briefly on October 29. A Fox Sparrow was also there for two days. Snow Buntings are still plentiful on the offshore islands.
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 shin-deep water in which there is often a swift current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven. It should also be noted that, because duck hunting is given priority on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Gull Island, High Bluff Island, Owen Point, 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.