In the midst of the mid-summer birding doldrums, a rarity appeared at Presqu'ile Provincial Park to add spice to an otherwise slow week. Bird song has almost ceased for the season, making it difficult to detect birds that remain hidden.
An American White Pelican, apparently the first at Presqu'ile since 1990, was discovered near Gull Island on July 25 and was subsequently seen by several observers, including one who saw it later that day flying over the Park as if returning to Gull Island after foraging elsewhere. On the following morning, two observers saw it flying back in the direction from which it had come the day before, leading to speculation that it may have spent its days feeding elsewhere and returning to roost on one of the offshore islands. In fact, it may still be doing so, although no one has reported seeing it since July 26.
Great Egrets also appear to follow the same behavioural pattern, being seen around the shores of Popham Bay early and late in the day.
Also on the shores of Popham Bay, two Greater Scaup were seen on July 23 and 26, a Common Goldeneye was seen on July 25 and 29, and a Red-breasted Merganser was present on July 29. All three of these species are common at Presqu'ile but unusual at this time of year.
On several days this week, an Osprey has been seen between the calf pasture and the lighthouse.
The composition of the shorebird flocks along the beach north of Owen Point changes on a daily basis. During the past week, there have been nine species, the most common being Semipalmated Sandpipers. Numbers of Semipalmated Plovers are increasing. There have been both Greater (up to four) and Lesser (up to eight) Yellowlegs, a few Sanderlings, a Pectoral Sandpiper, and a Short-billed Dowitcher. Two Bonaparte's Gulls were at Owen Point on July 26.
Most of the other bird life at Presqu'ile remains relatively unchanged from what it has been for the past few weeks, but swallows of several species are congregating on the wires along Bayshore Road. In recent years, warblers, apparently migrants, have trickled in by the end of July. The next cool front should be accompanied by a few of those birds.
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.