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Birding Report

Visitors to Presqu'ile Provincial Park cannot help but be impressed by the ubiquitous flocks of birds at this time of year, both along the roadsides and especially on and over the water.

A BRANT appeared on the beach on October 17 and has been off Gull Island for the past few days. In the marsh there is a constant movement of dabbling ducks as they swim in and out among the emergent vegetation. GREEN-WINGED TEAL are in the majority, but several other species are also present. AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS are not only in the marsh but especially along the south shore of the peninsula. A lone NORTHERN PINTAIL accompanied the teal at Owen Point on October 18.
The vast majority of the diving ducks are RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, but GREATER SCAUP are also numerous. In lesser numbers are WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS, LONG-TAILED DUCKS (the first three appearing on October 22), BUFFLEHEADS, and COMMON GOLDENEYES. COMMON LOONS in various plumages are present in good numbers, both in the water and in the air. A few HORNED GREBES and, on October 18, two RED-NECKED GREBES off Chatterton Point were also seen in the past week.

A very late OSPREY was seen on October 20 near Gull Island. MERLINS continue to be seen but away from the shorebird haunts. A RUFFED GROUSE narrowly averted colliding with a car on October 21, and two WILD TURKEYS were on Bayshore Road this morning, near # 83. An AMERICAN COOT was in the marsh with all the dabbling ducks on October 22. Shorebirds are still present in good numbers (~100 on October 20) but the variety is limited. BLACK-BELLIED and SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS have both been present this week. Five GREATER YELLOWLEGS flew past Gull Island on October 20 and were seen later in the marsh. SANDERLINGS have disappeared in the last two days, but there are still a few SEMIPALMATED, LEAST, WHITE-RUMPED, and PECTORAL SANDPIPERS and plenty of DUNLINS. This is the time of year when RED PHALAROPES occasionally appear at Presqu'ile. An AMERICAN WOODCOCK was at the calf pasture on October 20.

BARRED OWLS are year-round residents in the Park, but always elusive. One observer managed to find two on the same day late last week. No one has yet located a NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL here this fall. A few EASTERN PHOEBES have been lingering, most recently on October 20. Five AMERICAN PIPITS were on Gull Island this morning. FOX SPARROWS have been at 83 Bayshore Road. The first SNOW BUNTINGS of the season were found at the beach on October 17 and on Gull Island three days later.

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 shin-deep water 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 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 until December 20. 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.

Fred Helleiner