Although birds are not as plentiful at Presqu'ile Provincial Park as one might expect in mid-September, there has been a trickle of migrants all week despite the summery weather, providing a good variety of species, including at least one rarity.
In addition to the many CANADA GEESE that have been present all along, this morning there were migrating flocks riding the north-east wind, high enough to be difficult to see against the blue sky. The highlight of the week was a male EURASIAN WIGEON on September 20, accompanying some of the AMERICAN WIGEONS that have been in Popham Bay all week. The REDHEAD flock there has doubled in the last week, reaching about 250 individuals. Other ducks there this week have included GREATER and LESSER SCAUP, a few WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS, a LONG-TAILED DUCK, and COMMON and RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS. A RUFFED GROUSE was drumming on September 20. HORNED GREBES are scattered all over Popham Bay, with one count reaching 110 birds. One or two RED-NECKED GREBES were seen on three different days. A BLACK-CROWNED HIGHT-HERON was flying over the marsh towards the islands at dusk on September 20.
A late OSPREY was seen on September 21. Immature BALD EAGLES have been seen several times, perhaps the same bird each time, but an adult high in the sky with SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS was undoubtedly just passing through. Single BROAD-WINGED HAWKS were seen twice last Sunday. COMMON GALLINULES are reliable along the causeway leading to the Park. An AMERICAN COOT was also there, but the one walking around on a gravel beach last Saturday was unusual in its behaviour. Fifteen shorebird species in the past week are in part a reflection of the fact that numerous birders have been visiting Gull Island. A single AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER accompanied the BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS on the weekend. Both GREATER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS have appeared briefly. Three WHIMBRELS were seen on September 18, two on September 19, and one has been seen fairly regularly all week except today. It frequents all three of the offshore islands. Two RUDDY TURNSTONES and BAIRD'S and PECTORAL SANDPIPERS have also been seen with some regularity, but the four BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS reported last week were not seen after September 18. Up to six GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS have been seen. A COMMON TERN was off the beach on September 9 and eleven were reported on the next day.
Three observers had a close-up view of a BARRED OWL, and one of them heard another a day later. One of the most difficult birds to see in migration is the EASTERN WHIP-POOR-WILL but one was photographed on September 20. A few RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS are still being seen, including one this morning. Two birders independently spotted an immature RED-HEADED WOODPECKER, which was shown to several others. Although RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS have been regular all summer at 83 Bayshore Road, the discovery of two at the calf pasture yesterday was surprising. Five AMERICAN KESTRELS on September 20 was a large number. MERLINS are being seen on most days, and four PEREGRINE FALCONS today were a high count. Although most flycatchers except EASTERN WOOD-PEWEES and EASTERN PHOEBES have left, birders are reminded that Presqu'ile's only SULPHUR-BELLIED FLYCATCHER showed up in 1986 on September 28, a time of year when rare flycatchers from the west and south-west sometimes wander into Ontario. A late WARBLING VIREO on Sunday and a few PHILADELPHIA VIREOS have been greatly outnumbered this week by BLUE-HEADED and RED-EYED VIREOS. Even on the most unlikely days for a migration to take place, BLUE JAYS have been migrating over the lighthouse in the early mornings for the past ten days. In recent years, COMMON RAVENS have become part of the avifauna of Presqu'ile, but the sight of four together this morning was unusual. MARSH WRENS have been vociferous this week. GRAY-CHEEKED and HERMIT THRUSHES were seen on Monday, and two of the former were at the lighthouse today. A good variety of warblers is still present, including a late YELLOW WARBLER on September 21, increasing numbers of YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, and a reported PRAIRIE WARBLER today. SAVANNAH and LINCOLN'S SPARROWS and a DARK-EYED JUNCO today were newly arrived migrants. A few SCARLET TANAGERS and ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS are still around. There was a report of eight BOBOLINKS on Gull Island. The first two RUSTY BLACKBIRDS of the season were found on September 21. The perennial flock of BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS continues to frequent Gull Island.
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 water that is knee-deep, not taking into account any wave action, 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 on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Gull Island, High Bluff Island, 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