Understandably, the incipient fall bird migration at Presqu'ile Provincial Park has stalled pending the return of more favourable weather. More than compensating for the shortage of migrants, however, was the discovery of a rare species that had not put in an appearance at Presqu'ile since the spring of 1999.
A female Long-tailed Duck was in Lake Ontario opposite the woodpile marsh on Sunday and Monday, and another, or perhaps the same one, was near the lighthouse on Monday. Apart from the family of Common Loons that can be seen off the calf pasture on most days, there was also a group of seven of that species off Chatterton Point on July 31. Great Egrets have been seen almost every day this week. Among the seven seen by one observer on August 2 was a group of three standing at the north-west corner of High Bluff Island, where they have been known to congregate at this time of year. Ospreys are the only raptors sighted this week.
After a flurry of shorebirds leading up to last weekend, the migration of that Presqu'ile specialty has ground to a virtual halt. Over the past four days, only six species have been seen in the Park, but one of them has been the feature attraction of the week. A Marbled Godwit that first showed up on Sunday (July 29) has been in almost exactly the same spot every day since then. It feeds along a short stretch of the natural beach that can be accessed from lookout 2 on the Owen Point trail. Observers have been advised by the Park to cross the rope barrier at lookout 2 if necessary to locate the bird but are cautioned not to proceed along the beach beyond the lookout. The Ruddy Turnstone and Pectoral Sandpiper seen on July 30 have not been seen since then, leaving only one or two Semipalmated Plovers, Killdeers, and Spotted Sandpipers since Monday. Over 200 noisy Caspian Terns are now at Owen Point, and a Forster's Tern was there on July 27.
Among the five species of woodpeckers present this week were a male Red-bellied Woodpecker at 83 Bayshore Road and a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers at the calf pasture, both on August 2. The former bird renewed suspicion that the species nests somewhere in the Park, but if it does it certainly manages to keep quiet and out of sight after the end of May. Another bird that has been elusive through most of this summer is the Carolina Wren that has been heard periodically, including on August 1, along the road from the Park store to the bird sightings board, usually midway along that stretch.
The warbler migration should be picking up by this time next week. In the meantime, the only ones worth noting have been a Nashville Warbler at the lighthouse and a Northern Waterthrush at Owen Point, both on July 30. A male and a female Mourning Warbler coming to a bird bath at 83 Bayshore Road are probably resident birds. A Rose-breasted Grosbeak was accompanied by a young one at that same location.
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.