Despite temperatures that have been consistently above normal for most of the past week, the fall bird migration at Presqu'ile Provincial Park is right on schedule, with birds whose numbers typically peak in October beginning to show up in increasing numbers.
A Common Loon was in Presqu'ile Bay on September 28, and Horned Grebes can usually be found in small numbers far out in Popham Bay unless rough water makes viewing them impossible. Great Egrets have been feeding in the marsh on most mornings, with a high count of four. An immature Black-crowned Night-Heron
was at the calf pasture on September 25.
The Snow Goose that was found on the beach last week re-appeared on September 22 and 23, and six of that species were on Gull Island on September 26. There was also an unconfirmed report of eight Tundra Swans in Popham Bay on the following day. The first Ring-necked Duck of the season was in the marsh on September 23, and Lesser Scaups have been in Presqu'ile Bay off 38 Bayshore Road since September 27. White-winged Scoters have been appearing in singles and small flocks for most of the past week, but for some reason there have been almost as many dead and dying birds of that species along the shores of Gull Island.
A Bald Eagle, typically a fall and winter bird at Presqu'ile, was found on September 24. Two Ruffed Grouse sightings in the past week included a bird in the unusual location of Owen Point. The shorebird migration has wound down considerably, but twelve species remained this week. Among the Black-bellied Plovers that are present on the beach and on Gull Island there is one American Golden-Plover
that has been seen at least three times in the past five days. Two Lesser Yellowlegs on September 27 were the first of that species in the Park for a few weeks. One Whimbrel has been lingering on Gull Island at least until the record late date of September 27. Although the Lesser Black-backed Gull that had put in a brief appearance on September 19 appeared to have moved on by the following morning and was not found for several days thereafter, a sighting was reported on September 23.
The most reliable location at Presqu'ile for finding Northern Saw-whet Owls is High Bluff Island, which is temporarily off limits to anyone besides Park staff and duck hunters. With that species due to arrive imminently, it is hoped that the restrictions will soon be lifted.
The most recent Ruby-throated Hummingbird sighting was on September 24. Only two species of flycatcher were found in the Park this week: Eastern Wood-Pewee
and Eastern Phoebe. However, birders with a long memory have not forgotten that it was in the last few days of September that a Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher posed some years ago for a large number of delighted birders.
Again this week, three Common Ravens were performing aerobatics over the Park, this time at the start of the Owen Point trail on September 24. Warblers were surprisingly plentiful during the past week (at least seventeen species), with several observers finding Orange-crowned Warblers, generally a later migrant. Sparrows are ubiquitous in the Park these days. On Gull Island in particular, those who have been willing to fight their way through dense clumps of weeds have found large numbers and a good variety, the highlights being a Grasshopper Sparrow on September 27 and Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrows on two different days. A Lapland Longspur was also there on September 27. On September 25 there was an Indigo Bunting at Owen Point. A Purple Finch was near the lighthouse on September 24.
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, and High Bluff Island is temporarily off limits
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.