The fall bird migration at Presqu'ile Provincial Park has effectively ground to a halt. The interesting sightings of the past week consist mainly of birds that should have left by now. Some of them may still move further south, but others will likely remain to attempt to winter over, which is a choice that would be facilitated by the continuation of open water and by the presence of numerous feeders.
TRUMPETER SWANS and TUNDRA SWANS have been much in evidence. On Sunday a flock of 14 of the latter flew past Gull Tombolo. Eight of that species and six of the other were in the marsh this morning. Both yesterday and today, both of those species could be seen from the campground office viewing deck. On most days the marsh has remained unfrozen, allowing dabbling ducks, including two GREEN-WINGED TEAL on Tuesday and a continuing AMERICAN WIGEON, to continue feeding there. WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS have been seen in small numbers. A RUFFED GROUSE on the Owen Point trail and ten WILD TURKEYS in the calf pasture were the only gallinaceous birds this week. On Friday morning a much confused but otherwise healthy and very late PIED-BILLED GREBE was on the road beside the Park entrance gate before skittering under a parked car, where a heroic staff member was able to grab it (while being vigorously pecked) and take it to a nearby marsh. On Tuesday morning a flock of eight SANDHILL CRANES flew north-west over the beach, perhaps a spinoff from a flock of almost fifty that had flown in that direction high overhead just outside the Park a few minutes earlier. That sighting was also a record late date for Presqu'ile. For a second consecutive Sunday, another swarm of birders from far afield made their way to Gull Tombolo in a successful search for a PURPLE SANDPIPER. At the same time a DUNLIN was also present, but neither of these birds could be found on Tuesday. Every day for the past week, BONAPARTE'S GULLS have been seen, and a LITTLE GULL flew over on Sunday. Last year a BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE was photographed at Owen Point on December 10 and seen nearby on the following day. This morning a late COMMON LOON was near the lighthouse.
An immature BALD EAGLE soared overhead yesterday morning and another of that species was also seen. Several observers have seen a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK on High Bluff Island. A SNOWY OWL was seen on Friday. A very late NORTHERN FLICKER was seen along Paxton Drive on Monday. A PEREGRINE FALCON was on High Bluff Island on Sunday. A PURPLE FINCH was at a feeder on Saturday. The most recent sighting of a YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER was at 83 Bayshore Road on December 2. A WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW spent Tuesday afternoon at 186 Bayshore Road.
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 (now a tombolo) are now able to walk there without special footwear, but under certain conditions such as high winds there may be a few metres of water a few centimetres deep to cross.
It should also be noted that, because duck hunting is given priority on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Owen Point, Gull Tombolo, 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.