Pleasant weather and partial defoliation of the trees have made for good birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park during the past week, despite progressively dwindling numbers of birds.
Red-throated Loons were seen on October 22 and 26, in Popham Bay and off High Bluff Island, respectively. Horned Grebes have been dotting the waters off Presqu'ile in large numbers (several score) all week. Except for one flock of about 100 near the lighthouse on October 24, Double-crested Cormorants have dwindled to the point where only single-digit numbers can be found on any day.
A small flock of Brant continues to forage around the shores of Popham Bay, usually near Owen Point. There were 24 birds in the group on October 24, but the number has gradually dwindled to five on October 28. Two Northern Shovelers were in Popham Bay on October 28, and a male Northern Pintail has been seen regularly in the marsh.
Rough-legged Hawks have been passing through the Park in small numbers: 1 on October 22, 3 on October 26, and 1 on October 28. Two Merlins were along the beach on October 22 and one was still there on October 28.
Shorebirds are down to six species, including a Greater Yellowlegs on October 26, a late Red Knot on Gull Island on October 28, and single Semipalmated Sandpipers on October 22, 25, and 26. An adult Little Gull was with a group of Bonaparte's Gulls at Owen Point on October 25.
Four species of owls were found in the Park during the past week. A Great Horned Owl and a Northern Saw-whet Owl were on High Bluff Island on October 26, a Barred Owl on Paxton Drive in Newcastle Woods on October 25 gave a fairly satisfactory view as it flew away, and a Short-eared Owl flew to and fro off the beach for a few minutes on October 22.
Northern Shrikes have been seen at Presqu'ile on four of the past seven days, with as many as two different birds on October 25 and three on October 27. The latest sighting of a Blue-headed Vireo was on October 22, but a Red-eyed Vireo at 186 Bayshore Road on October 27 was exceptionally late. A Common Raven and a Horned Lark flew past the lighthouse on October 26, both unusual at that location.
The main attraction for birders at Presqu'ile this week has been a Tufted Titmouse that seems to have settled in around the end of Bayshore Road. It has been seen almost every day, sometimes several times a day, usually visiting feeders at 191 or 186 Bayshore Road. Hermit Thrushes were present in good numbers at least up to October 22, and a few are still being found. Only three species of warblers remained in the Park since the previous report a week ago: an Orange-crowned Warbler at the lighthouse on October 25, small numbers of Yellow-rumped Warblers almost every day, and a tail-less Palm Warbler at the lighthouse on October 22.
American Tree Sparrows were found in two different locations on October 28, a Field Sparrow was at 191 Bayshore Road on October 26, and a Fox Sparrow was on High Bluff Island on the same day. A flock of 30 Snow Buntings was on beach 2 on October 23, and smaller flocks have been on Gull Island for several days. On October 28, an Eastern Meadowlark was on Gull Island and three Rusty Blackbirds were in a mixed blackbird flock near the lighthouse.
At the feeders at the end of Bayshore Road (#186 and 191), a few Purple Finches and up to about 40 Pine Siskins have been daily visitors, but a female House Sparrow at 191 Bayshore Road on October 25 was a surprise as this species is rarely seen at Presqu'ile.
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 should be prepared to wade through shin-deep water in which there is often a swift current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven. It should also be noted that, because duck hunting is given priority on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Gull Island, High Bluff Island, Owen Point, and part of the calf pasture are not available for bird-watching on those days.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.