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Birding Report The first part of the week was wet and culminated with much Hurricane Ike rain and wind in the wee hours of September 15. Though anticipated, no storm-blown tropical waifs were subsequently detected. Fine weather developed for the rest of the week allowing some late-summer migrants to appear on schedule.
Two Snow Geese mingled with Canada's on beach 1 on the evening of September 15. Dabbling ducks massing about Gull Island and Popham Bay are spending their final days communing with their heads and other body parts. Four Redheads were seen off Coot Lookout on September 12 and a White-winged Scoter, noticed north of Gull Island for most of the week, was found dead (probably from botulism) on the 18th. Red-breasted Merganser flocks flying about Gull Island continue to grow in size.
Twenty Horned Grebes were spotted off beach 3 on September 14 and, unfortunately, a dead Red-necked Grebe (also probably botulism) was found on the beach 3 shore the evening before.
An opportunistic American Bittern seen behind beach 4 continued to sample Presqu'ile's unusually large Leopard Frog population. Throughout the week, Great Egrets were more likely to be seen than Great-blue Herons in the corridor between Owen Point and High Bluff Island. September 12 yielded two Bald Eagles near the Woodpile Marsh and Merlins patrolled the Calf Pasture and the Owen Point region all week. A Merlin trying for a Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Gull Island on the 14th was easily outmaneuvered by the hummer. The season's first Peregrine Falcon was seen on the sand beach on the evening of the 16th and again near Owen Point on the 17th.
Black-bellied Plovers were one of the Park's more numerous shorebird throughout the week. A single American Golden Plover was on the beach late on September 16 and two were found on Gull Island on the 17th. Small numbers of Semipalmated Plovers foraged back-beach rain puddles for most of the week. Persisting Ruddy Turnstones as usual spent most of their time on rocky Sebastopol Island and two Red Knots were on Gull Island on the 15th and 16th. Sanderlings continued to be the most abundant shorebird in the Park, while Baird's and White-rumped Sandpipers were usually observable all week.
The season's first Dunlin appeared with Sanderlings on September 16. By the 18th up to six Dunlin could be seen about Owen Point. A single Buff-breasted Sandpiper was findable on Gull Island on most days of the week and a Short-billed Dowitcher was seen on beach 3 on the 16th.
Only a handful of Bonaparte's Gulls have appeared on the beach so far. On the morning of September 16, a dark-phase jaeger buzzed gulls on Sebastopol Island then flew out into the lake. Observers were frustrated that the bird was a little too far away to accurately determine its species. A Great-horned Owl was seen in an unlikely place (Jobe's Woods) and during the day on September 17.
As it has done for quiet some time, a Red-bellied Woodpecker visited feeders at 83 Bayshore Dr. on most days of the week. Migrating Northern Flickers continue to be abundant in the Park. An array of confusing empids circulated about the Lighthouse on September 15 but at least the Eastern Wood-Pewees they were arguing with could be identified. A late Eastern Kingbird was at the Calf Pasture on September 12 and an early Ruby-crowned Kinglet was spotted on September 16. So far, only small numbers of Swainson's Thrushes have been reported.
A passerine fall-out on September 15 (after a night of post-Ike rains) yielded 18 warbler species including late Yellow Warblers, a Mourning Warbler, Black-throated Blue and Green Warblers, as well as, Bay-breasted and Blackpoll Warblers. Scarlet Tanagers and a Rose-breasted Grosbeak were seen with this flock and the tanagers continued to be seen on most days through the week. Sparrows have yet to arrive en masse; however, a good variety, plus juncos and longspurs should appear soon.
To reach Presqu'ile Provincial Park, follow the signs from Brighton. Locations mentioned in this report are shown in a tabloid available at the Park gates. Anyone wading to Gull Island will continue to find knee to waist-deep water, a current and slippery rocks beneath. Access to Gull Island will be restricted to Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday when the duck hunt begins.
For Fred Helleiner,
Don Shanahan
613 475 3502