Although the shorebird migration for which Presqu'ile Provincial Park is noted does not get into full swing until August, the vanguard of those birds has already been the centre of attention. Other birds are a bit slower in beginning their fall migration but are beginning to trickle in.
An unidentified scaup, the first in almost a month, was sitting on the shore of Gull Island two days ago. On the following day a female Hooded Merganser, the first of the fall, flew in near Owen Point. The family of Common Loons in Presqu'ile Bay reported last week seems to be thriving. Among the sightings of Great Egrets was one of a bird soaring high into the sky like a vulture. A Green Heron flew across the causeway leading into the Park. An Osprey seems to be spending a considerable amount of its time at the calf pasture. The Northern Harriers sighted on two consecutive days may be from the pair that apparently nested in the marsh, but an adult female Sharp-shinned Hawk perched in a tree near the lighthouse after a day of strong northerly winds (July 20) was probably an early migrant. A Wild Turkey with three young was seen near the north end of the Park on July 20.
There are not yet large numbers of shorebirds on the beach at Presqu'ile, but the variety has been good and the viewing stations near Owen Point have recently been upgraded, making the birds more easily visible. Three Semipalmated Plovers arrived on July 24 and four have been there on each of the past two days. On July 25, there were three Greater Yellowlegs and five Lesser Yellowlegs. Four of the latter flew in with the season's first Stilt Sandpiper (in full breeding plumage), but they stayed only briefly before flying off again. The five Sanderlings reported last week were still present on July 20, but since then only one has been seen. The maximum counts of Semipalmated Sandpipers and Least Sandpipers in the past week have been ten and eight, respectively. One of the former had coloured leg bands whose origin is under investigation. A lone Baird's Sandpiper, the first of the season, was on the beach on July 24 and a Pectoral Sandpiper was there on the next day. Of the rare but regular shorebirds that visit Presqu'ile annually, perhaps Buff-breasted Sandpipers may be the next to appear. Birders looking for shorebirds at Owen Point cannot fail to notice the Caspian Terns and be impressed by their numbers: well over 100 every day.
Both Great Crested Flycatcher and Eastern Kingbird have been observed feeding their young. A few small songbirds have been stopping at the lighthouse lately, at least some of them obviously in migration. They include a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher
, a Nashville Warbler, and a Northern Waterthrush, all on July 21 after the passage of a cool front. On July 24, two Pine Warblers were at the entrance to the beach 3 road. A Field Sparrow at 186 Bayshore Road on July 25 was unexpected, as was an Eastern Meadowlark in the day use area on July 21. There have been Orchard Oriole sightings on several days, both at the lighthouse and elsewhere. A male Purple Finch again visited the feeder at 191 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.