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Birding Report

After a few relatively quiet days at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, the recent cool front has brought in a wave of fall migrant birds, some of which may still be around for the Monarchs and Migrants weekend, at which there will be a bird banding demonstration (weather permitting), among other attractions.

There has been an increase in the number of dabbling ducks frequenting the natural beach and the shore of Gull Island, including more GREEN-WINGED TEAL than before and a few BLUE-WINGED TEAL.  Among the diving ducks in that area are the usual small group of REDHEADS, in which there has been a male SCAUP for a few weeks.  One observer reported a RING-NECKED DUCK in that unusual location on August 24, two weeks earlier than the previous record early date. LONG-TAILED DUCKS have been there on three different days in the past week.   A real surprise was a RED-THROATED LOON that was photographed on August 23.  A GREEN HERON was near Owen Point and another was perched in a tree in the middle of a thicket half a kilometre from the lighthouse.  A BALD EAGLE flew over on August 22, and a few other hawks have been migrating this week, including both SHARP-SHINNED and COOPER'S HAWKS, and on two different days a BROAD-WINGED HAWK near the lighthouse, a species that usually avoids the lakeshore in favour of inland locations.

The focus of birding this week has been on shorebirds, of which 13 species have been seen.  A WHIMBREL was seen on two different days, BAIRD'S SANDPIPERS are daily sightings, the first BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER of the season flew in and landed on Gull Island yesterday, and two SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS were seen this morning.  Not counted in the above total were AMERICAN WOODCOCKS, which were flushed at the lighthouse and on the Owen Point trail.  A GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL that landed near the lighthouse this evening may be the first of the wintering birds of that species.

Seven COMMON NIGHTHAWKS migrated over the lighthouse yesterday evening.  MERLINS have been seen at several locations, but most regularly along the beach and at Owen Point, where one was seen to catch a dragonfly, a rather less nutritious substitute for the shorebirds which it prefers. While the peak of the flycatcher migration appears to have already passed, they are by no means all gone. OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHERS were seen on August 24 and 28 and a YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER on August 25. Birders can certainly not forget that, two years ago today, a THICK-BILLED KINGBIRD was discovered and attracted mobs of birders for a few days.

A PHILADELPHIA VIREO seen today was evidently the first of the season.  A few PURPLE MARTINS are still lingering around the end of Bayshore Road.  A RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH was near the lighthouse today.  At least 16 warbler species have been reported in the past week. A CAPE MAY WARBLER was photographed on August 23, and an early PALM WARBLER was near Owen Point today.  The first NORTHERN PARULA of the season and several WILSON'S WARBLERS were also found today. 

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.

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.

Fred Helleiner