The past week may well turn out to have been the peak of the fall bird migration at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, certainly for some species. On one day, a local birder commented that birding on that day was better than on any day in the past spring.
On the morning of August 30, a Least Bittern and four Great Egrets were seen in the marsh. A Greater Scaup flew past Owen Point on September 1.
Although Presqu'ile is not noted for its hawk migrations, a few have been passing through lately, some of them drifting westward high over the point. A Cooper's Hawk was found deep in the woods near the lighthouse on August 31. In addition to the Merlin that has been patrolling the beach, two of that species were near the government dock on August 31.
Two Virginia Rails were heard in the marsh in the evening of August 28.
After building up to a very interesting weekend of shorebird watching, the numbers and variety of shorebirds plumetted with the weather change on August 31 and have only slowly begun to recover. Among the twenty species seen in the Park in the past week, there were several highlights. An American Golden-Plover
was on the beach on August 30. Two Whimbrels were there on September 2. The small group of Red Knots off Owen Point reached a peak of six individuals on August 28, but they have not been seen for the past three or four days. Differentiated by their plumage, two separate Western Sandpipers visited Presqu'ile this week. One was on the beach on August 29, and the other appeared at Owen Point on the evening of September 2. White-rumped Sandpipers were seen almost daily up to the end of last month, and a handful of Baird's Sandpipers remains at the beach. The first Dunlin of the season was there on August 30. A surprising nine Stilt Sandpipers were on the beach on August 27, and two were still there on August 30. After almost a week with no reports of Buff-breasted Sandpipers, two were seen on the beach on September 1, perhaps the same two that had been present earlier. A Little Gull was at Owen Point on August 28.
Crepuscular birding at the marsh boardwalk has been profitable: young Great Horned Owls heard there at dawn on August 30 and an astonishing 153 Common Nighthawks heading south overhead at dusk on August 28. Two Yellow-bellied and two Olive-sided Flycatchers on August 29, and two Eastern Phoebes on September 1 were of interest. A Philadelphia Vireo was at the lighthouse on August 29. Red-breasted Nuthatches have put on a good showing this week, often accompanying warbler flocks. A Brown Creeper at the lighthouse on September 2 was apparently the first fall migrant. Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers
were seen on August 28 and 31. It was determined that the American Pipit reported last week was definitely not that species. However, flocks of American Pipits should soon be arriving, and September is the month when optimistic birders scan those flocks for a stray Northern Wheatear.
The biggest challenge for birders in the Park this week has been to entice the hundreds of warblers from out of the thick foliage to where they can be seen and identified. Twenty-one species were represented, including Blue-winged Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Northern Parula, Yellow-rumped Warbler, and Mourning Warbler. Flocks of twenty or more can be found with little difficulty in the eastern end of the peninsula.
The rarest bird of the week was a Dickcissel that flew over beach 3 on August 29, but unfortunately failed to stop. A Bobolink also flew over on that date.
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 until September 11 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.