Although there is plenty of evidence that the fall migration of birds at Presqu'ile Provincial Park has begun, it would take an optimist to claim that it is more than a mere trickle at this point. Yet a comparison with last year's events shows that it is right on schedule.
There has been, for several weeks, a concentration of ducks, mostly dabbling ducks, on the north shore of Gull Island, barely within range of a good spotting scope. When conditions are favourable, one can pick out a few American Black Ducks, Green-winged Teal, and Redheads. This morning there was also a Northern Pintail. Yesterday a Lesser Scaup and a Bufflehead were identified there (the latter being one of only a handful of summer records), and a White-winged Scoter near the lighthouse. The flock of Common Mergansers on the east shore of Gull Island contained twelve birds yesterday, but none could be seen today. One additional bird of that species was at the lighthouse on August 10.
With American White Pelicans showing up recently at three widely separated locations in southern Ontario, one should keep an eye on the cormorant flocks at Presqu'ile, where one appeared in late July four years ago, a location that is not far from the Bay of Quinte, where one remained for several weeks last year at precisely this time. All but one of the previous sightings at Presqu'ile were in August. The American Bittern that has been frequenting the frog-infested Owen Point trail for a few weeks was seen again on August 8. The Least Bittern that has been sighted several times along the causeway just outside the Park entrance was last seen on August 10. Three Green Herons flew past the lighthouse on August 12. A Black-crowned Night-Heron
was perched on Sebastopol Island, where the species formerly nested.
As many as four Ospreys have been patrolling Presqu'ile Bay for the past week, and successfully diving for fish. An immature Bald Eagle was flushed from the trees at Owen Point and soared around for some time thereafter. A few migrant hawks, including Sharp-shinned Hawk and American Kestrel, have signalled the start of the raptor migration. Ruffed Grouse remain undetected after they cease drumming in late May, except when they stray onto the roads, as one did today. To date, the shorebird migration has been a disappointment. However, a Greater Yellowlegs was near the start of the Owen Point trail on August 13, and a worn adult Baird's Sandpiper was at Owen Point on August 9 and 10, and a juvenile of that species has been seen twice this week.
A Black-billed Cuckoo was calling behind the woodpile marsh this morning. The first Common Nighthawk of the season flew over Bayshore Road on August 12. Large numbers of Purple Martins were leaving the Park on August 13. A small flurry of migrating warblers on August 10 included a Nashville Warbler, a Chestnut-sided Warbler, and a Mourning Warbler. Scarlet Tanagers should soon be appearing. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks have been around the lighthouse area all week. There are still Orchard Orioles and Baltimore Orioles visiting feeders on Bayshore Road. Contrary to what was stated in last week's report, White-winged Crossbills have indeed reached Presqu'ile, as two were noted flying over as early as August 2.
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. Birders who have not visited Presqu'ile in the past few years may not be aware that the boardwalk that provides access into the marsh has been closed and is unlikely to be re-opened for another year or so. 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.