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Birding Report An amazing fallout of migrating passerine birds occurred on Monday at the lighthouse in Presqu'ile Provincial Park, making it difficult to know where to point one's binoculars. For a couple of hours in the morning before most of the birds disappeared, it was a birder's heaven. On the other hand, the propensity of shorebirds to remain on Gull Island just beyond the point at which most of them could be identified has been a source of frustration for birders, many of whom came considerable distances in hopes of having good views of them. Many of those visitors would be willing to wade to Gull Island and can not understand why the restrictions preventing that have not been lifted when the colonial birds have finished nesting activities. A demonstration of bird banding will take place this weekend near the Owen Point trail parking lot, from 8 a.m. until noon.
Among the ducks in Popham Bay this week were American Wigeons, Redheads, and two Common Goldeneyes. An immature Bald Eagle was in that area on August 27. Small numbers of migrating hawks this week were mostly accipiters (Sharp-shinned Hawks) and falcons. Merlins have been seen in several parts of the Park, and a Peregrine Falcon has been a regular visitor in the Owen Point area.
Only the most interesting shorebirds are worth mentioning. A lone Whimbrel showed up on the morning of August 25. By that afternoon it had been joined by another. On the next three days, the little flock grew by one each day, reaching five individuals by August 28, the last day on which they were seen. Ruddy Turnstones were present late last week. A Red Knot was seen on August 26, 27, and 29. One or two White-rumped Sandpipers and several Baird's Sandpipers have been seen, as well as two Pectoral Sandpipers. An elusive Buff-breasted Sandpiper, first discovered on August 25, has been seen at least once since then. Only one Short-billed Dowitcher was found this week. In general, shorebird numbers are down from previous years. Perhaps that will change in the coming days. The first American Golden-Plover can be expected soon. A Great Black-backed Gull was found on August 26, the first of that species in over a month at Presqu'ile.
Single Black-billed Cuckoos were seen on three consecutive days this week, one on the pioneer trail on Sunday and the others near the visitor centre at the lighthouse on Monday and Tuesday. Campers have been hearing both Great Horned Owl and Barred Owl late at night, but the Whip-poor-will that called briefly on August 26 at 83 Bayshore Road was at dusk. Several Common Nighthawks have been migrating over the Park.
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have been ubiquitous, and at least one was seen flying out over the lake. An Olive-sided Flycatcher on August 26 was right on schedule, but a Blue-headed Vireo on the following day was exceptionally early. A Yellow-throated Vireo seen at Owen Point on August 27 (along with a Philadelphia Vireo) appears to be the earliest fall date for Presqu'ile as well as being a rare sighting. A Carolina Wren has been at the lighthouse for the past four days. Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers have been seen on several days this week. A Swainson's Thrush was at the lighthouse on August 28. Among the 19 species of warblers in the Park this week were 14 species at the lighthouse in the space of just over an hour on August 27. Tennessee Warbler, Cape May Warbler, and Blackpoll Warbler were not unexpected, but a Palm Warbler on August 30 was remarkably early. A few Scarlet Tanagers have been passing through, and six Indigo Buntings on August 28 were a surprising number. At least two Evening Grosbeaks appeared at 83 Bayshore Road on August 30, the first of that species seen at Presqu'ile this year and perhaps the forerunners of a larger influx.
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. Access to the offshore islands is restricted at this time of year to prevent disturbance to the colonial nesting birds there.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.