With the exception of water birds, there has been little fall bird migration remaining at Presqu'ile Provincial Park. Yet there have been a few interesting sightings that have made birding outings worthwhile in recent days.
The first TUNDRA SWAN flock of the fall was a group of nine birds that flew past the lighthouse on November 9, but the big push took place on November 13, when as many as eight different flocks, and perhaps eleven, were seen flying over by various observers. This coincided with a similar movement at Holiday Beach in southwestern Ontario on the same day, when "there were flocks of Tundra Swans passing through the site all day.” Some of those birds have remained in Presqu'ile Bay during the two days since then. Yesterday, one observer saw three species of swans there: MUTE, TRUMPETER, and TUNDRA SWANS. Two WOOD DUCKS were at the causeway leading to the Park gate, about eight GADWALLS were off Gull Island, and an AMERICAN WIGEON was on the beach. A good variety of diving ducks is present, though remaining far off shore. SURF, WHITE-WINGED, and BLACK SCOTERS have been seen repeatedly, the latter in a persistent flock of just over a dozen in Popham Bay as well as a single equally persistent bird off the lighthouse. In late November, Presqu'ile has in the past been a reliable place to find KING EIDERS, one of which was there on the 15th and 25th last year. One RED-THROATED LOON and a few COMMON LOONS have been seen this week, and a smattering of PIED-BILLED and HORNED GREBES, though nothing like the numbers of a month ago. A DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT was seen as recently as November 12 and might still be around.
Both SHARP-SHINNED and COOPER'S HAWK were seen this week. A ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK has been spending time on High Bluff Island. There are two parts of Presqu'ile Park that have had shorebirds this week, but the mix of species has been different in the two. Along the causeway leading into the Park, by carefully scanning the mudflats where they move in and out among the tufts of vegetation, one can usually find KILLDEER, PECTORAL SANDPIPERS, and a couple of dozen WILSON'S SNIPE. In addition, WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS and DUNLINS are there, as well as around the shores of Gull Island, where they appear somewhat more sporadically. This morning, for the first time in two weeks, PURPLE SANDPIPERS were on Gull Island, four of them on the south-east corner. A highlight for anyone visiting Gull Island in the past week has been two easily visible SNOWY OWLS that seldom move far from their chosen positions on Sebastopol Island and on the gravel bar north of Gull Island. In addition to those two, a third owl, a SHORT-EARED OWL flew around Gull Island on Tuesday. The same observer saw a third owl species the next day, a BARRED OWL on Paxton Drive, one of two seen this week, the other being in Jobes' woods. A BELTED KINGFISHER was at Salt Point on November 11. A MERLIN on Sunday and a PEREGRINE FALCON today were on Sebastopol and Gull Islands, respectively.
Six HORNED LARKS were on Gull Island today. For the third time in three weeks, a BOREAL CHICKADEE was in the "fingers” yesterday. A WINTER WREN at the lighthouse on November 12, and a RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET there on November 10 were rather late dates for migrants. Eight AMERICAN PIPITS were on Gull Island on Sunday. Some BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS were also seen on that day. No YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS have been recorded since the four on November 9 and the two on November 10. Both CHIPPING and FOX SPARROWS have been seen at 83 Bayshore Road and WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS at 186 Bayshore Road. Varying numbers of SNOW BUNTINGS have been on Gull Island and nearby. Among the winter finches found this week were a RED CROSSBILL at the lighthouse, a WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL in Jobes' woods, and a HOARY REDPOLL at 186 Bayshore Road.
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 able to walk across the gap without special footwear unless a wind change creates a gap of shallow water. 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. 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.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be
directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.