Owls and stragglers are the featured birds at Presqu'ile Provincial Park this week. The marsh normally develops a skim of ice by this date, but this year that has not yet occurred and dozens of dabbling ducks remain there, easily viewed from the road.
Two TUNDRA SWANS were at the beach on November 14 and four were nearby on November 19. Five NORTHERN SHOVELERS landed far out in Popham Bay on November 14. MALLARDS and GREEN-WINGED TEAL continue to be the most abundant dabbling ducks in the Park. Up to three AMERICAN WIGEONS and two NORTHERN PINTAILS are regularly with those birds in the marsh.
Small numbers of COMMON LOONS and HORNED GREBES are still present. A DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT was at Salt Point on November 13. A GREAT BLUE HERON was at the calf pasture on two consecutive days. On November 17 a TURKEY VULTURE consuming a dead fish at Owen Point represented, by one day, the latest record for Presqu'ile Park. There was also a NORTHERN HARRIER on Gull Island on that day, and a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK near the lighthouse on the next day.
A WILD TURKEY was found on November 14, presumably one of the pair that has been lingering for some time. Only three shorebird species remained this week, a KILLDEER and a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER on November 19 and a DUNLIN on November 17. It is unusual for an entire week to pass in November with no PURPLE SANDPIPER sightings in the Park, but the next cold front may change all that. A conservative estimate of the number of BARRED OWLS in the Park this week is eight birds, but there are likely more than that. In addition one was struck by a car and has been taken for rehabilitation despite its emaciated condition. To the delight of both birders and photographers, it has been possible to find five or six BARRED OWLS in the space of only a few hours, as several observers have done.
PILEATED WOODPECKERS have again been seen in Jobes' woods and elsewhere. A NORTHERN SHRIKE was found on November 17. Late but not record-breaking late were a RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET on November 13, two AMERICAN PIPITS on November 17, and a YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER on November 14. A surprising find, twelve days later than the previous record, was a PALM WARBLER of the yellow race on November 17. What does a ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK do when its wing is damaged and it cannot fly to its normal Central or South American wintering grounds? If it is lucky, it finds a well-stocked bird feeder provided by the Friends of Presqu'ile at the group campground parking lot. It was found there on November 13 and has been seen there repeatedly since then (most recently on November 18, to the best of my knowledge). How long it can survive here remains to be seen. In the meantime it establishes a new late record with every passing day. A flock of ten PINE SISKINS fed briefly at 186 Bayshore Road on November 16.
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 ankle-deep water that sometimes has waves that reach the shins. 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.