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Birding Report Another great week of birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park has just passed, and many birders were treated to excellent looks at a variety of shorebirds and good opportunities to find many other species.
Two Horned Grebes were far out in Popham Bay on September 4. Four species of heron were found on the weekend: American Bittern, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret (still present on September 7), Black-crowned Night-Heron. Three Northern Shovelers were among the dabbling ducks at the shore of Gull Island. Out in Popham Bay the diving ducks are mostly Redheads and scaup, but there have also been a Common Goldeneye (on September 7) and three species of mergansers. A Long-tailed Duck spotted off Owen Point on September 3 had died by the next morning.
An Osprey has been frequenting the calf pasture cove for a number of days. At least six other species of hawks have been seen this week, including two Cooper's Hawks, a Broad-winged Hawk (heard only), and up to three Merlins (a species which is a daily presence along the beach).
Some good shorebird sightings have kept things interesting. An American Golden-Plover was present for four consecutive days and may still be lurking on Gull Island awaiting the arrival of birders on Sunday. On September 2, four Whimbrels were found, and up to three birds were seen on each of the following three days. Until today, two Red Knots were among the easiest shorebirds to find from September 2 onward. A Western Sandpiper was first spotted on September 3, and as recently as September 8 two different individuals have been seen. A few White-rumped Sandpipers were present on September 8, but the Stilt Sandpipers that had been present in one's and two's all week were missing. Two Buff-breasted Sandpipers were seen on September 3 and one on the next day, but there have been no reports since then. A Short-billed Dowitcher arrived on September 3, and two birds remained until September 5. Perhaps the most unusual shorebird sighting was that of an American Woodcock out on the beach at dusk on September 5. Surprisingly, no Dunlins have yet joined the other shorebirds at Presqu'ile.
A Laughing Gull put in a very brief appearance at Owen Point on September 2. A dozen Common Terns spent a day (September 6) among the dwindling flock of Caspian Terns off Owen Point.
Common Nighthawks have been exceptionally scarce at Presqu'ile this year, but one was over the beach on September 5 and two were near the lighthouse on September 7. There have been fewer flycatchers in the Park than there were a week ago, but an Olive-sided Flycatcher was present on September 2 and 3, and a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher was seen on September 4. Three species of vireo seen during the past week included a Blue-headed Vireo on September 4 and several Philadelphia Vireos. The only Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher found in the Park this fall was seen on September 3. There were Gray-cheeked Thrush, Swainson's Thrush, and Wood Thrush sightings in the past week. American Pipits were at Owen Point on several days, including a flock of about 50 on September 5.
Warblers have been abundant almost every day, but they occur mostly in concentrations of up to two or three dozen, while searches elsewhere can draw a total blank. Among the more interesting species were a Golden-winged Warbler on September 6, a Tennessee Warbler on September 8, at least three Northern Parulas, a few late Yellow Warblers, and a Connecticut Warbler at Owen Point on September 4. A report was received late that a Prairie Warbler had been seen on Langton Avenue on the last weekend in August. To date there have been no reports of Blue-winged Warbler or Orange-crowned Warbler at Presqu'ile this fall, but the latter species should be arriving soon.
A few White-throated Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncoes seen recently suggest that the sparrow migration will soon be in full swing. A very early Lapland Longspur was at Owen Point on September 4 and 5. Up to five Indigo Buntings have been seen on a single day this week.
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 10 to prevent disturbance to the colonial nesting birds there. After September 10, visitors to Gull Island not using a boat should be prepared to wade through water of uncertain depth in which there is often a swift current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.