At this time of year, birds start to show up in parts of Presqu'ile Provincial Park where they have not been noticed since the spring. That presents a dilemma. Are they early fall migrants or are they birds that bred nearby and have simply dispersed from their breeding territories? In some cases (like certain shorebirds that do not breed within hundreds of kilometres of Presqu'ile) the answer is clear. In other cases one can only speculate.
Great Egrets are being seen somewhat more regularly than they were a month ago, most often flying between High Bluff Island, where they nest, and some foraging area on the mainland, whether in the Presqu'ile marshes or elsewhere. Instead of the hundreds of Canada Geese that were around throughout much of June, there are now only a few dozen, mostly on Gull Island. Gadwalls have become the commonest duck in the Park, feeding along the shores of Gull Island with an American Wigeon, a few Mallards, a Northern Pintail, and a few Redheads, or resting on the island. A Common Merganser was the only other duck seen this week.
The vanguard of the fall shorebird migration has arrived at Presqu'ile, with over a dozen Least Sandpipers appearing in two flocks near Owen Point. A Bonaparte's Gull was on the beach on July 1, and a Glaucous Gull has been seen on at least two occasions this week on Gull Island.
A Black-billed Cuckoo was feeding young at the calf pasture on July 1, and on the same day a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker appeared at the lighthouse. Since that date is too early for that species to have migrated, perhaps it has been breeding unnoticed somewhere in the Park. Often by this date the Barred Owls that reside in the Park have fledged their young and become more noticeable. However, there have not been any recent reports from campers or anyone else. Golden-crowned Kinglets are seldom heard singing in southern Ontario, but one was doing just that near Owen Point on July 3. A Northern Mockingbird on the access road to Beach 1 on June 30 may be one of the birds that was seen earlier within a few hundred metres of there. It seems a little early for the fall warbler migration to have begun, but the sighting of a Northern Waterthrush at the calf pasture on July 3 raises that possibility, since that species is one of the first to return in the fall. A Clay-colored Sparrow was heard in the more westerly of the two day use areas on July 5. Orchard Orioles were observed feeding young at two different places this week, one at the calf pasture and one at 83 Bayshore Road.
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 at this time of year 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.