This has been an exciting week for birders at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, not because of any exceptionally rare birds but because of the volume of migrants passing through over the past three days, especially on Tuesday and Wednesday.
One observer saw three species of geese on October 28: the ubiquitous Canada Geese, one flock of which was accompanied by a Snow Goose, and two flocks of Brant far out in the lake. Two Brant were also on the beach on the following day. A Tundra Swan, the first of the season, was in Presqu'ile Bay on October 30. Until the marsh developed a skim of ice last night, the variety of dabbling ducks there was impressive, including four Gadwalls, a Northern Shoveler, and a number of Northern Pintails, some of which were still present at the edge of the ice today. The first Canvasback of the season was off Salt Point on October 29, along with all three species of Scoters
. There were also two Black Scoters in Popham Bay on October 26. Hundreds of Common Loons are scattered along the south shore of the peninsula, and single Red-throated Loons were spotted there on October 28 and 30. A Red-necked Grebe has been off Salt Point on four of the last eight days.
A Bald Eagle was at the calf pasture on October 28 and 29, and another was flying over. There was a steady stream of migrating Red-tailed Hawks and a few Rough-legged Hawks on October 28 and 29. A Merlin did a fly-past in front of several birders on Gull Island on October 26, and it or another was chasing Snow Buntings on October 28. Two Wild Turkeys seen near the park entrance may be the same birds that were seen in that area on a couple of other recent occasions. Shorebirds are still easy to find along the beach and around Owen Point. Species seen this week were Black-bellied Plovers, a single American Golden-Plover
on October 26, Semipalmated Plovers, eight Greater Yellowlegs on October 28, Sanderlings, White-rumped Sandpipers (up to a dozen), Pectoral Sandpiper, many Dunlins, and the much-sought-after Purple Sandpipers. Until now, only two of the latter have appeared. They were on Sebastopol Island on October 26 but have not been seen since. No doubt others will soon be arriving, as November is the peak month for that species. An Iceland Gull was on the beach on October 24, so Glaucous Gulls can not be far behind. Between the beach, Owen Point, Gull Island, and High Bluff Island, Snowy Owls have been very much in evidence all week. One observer saw at least three (perhaps four) widely separated birds on October 30.
Two or more Blue-headed Vireos were at the lighthouse on October 26. A Common Raven flew over High Bluff campground on October 27. One wonders why the Boreal Chickadees, reported as numerous in northern Ontario and Quebec earlier in the fall, have not yet appeared at Presqu'ile. November is not too late for them to be migrating through these parts. Several flocks of Eastern Bluebirds have been in the Park this week, most recently at the calf pasture. In the space of ten minutes, one observer found five Hermit Thrushes along the paved trail near the nature centre on October 29. American Pipits and Yellow-rumped Warblers are still present in small numbers. A White-crowned Sparrow was on Gull Island on October 30. At least one flock of Lapland Longspurs flew over on October 28. Scores of Snow Buntings are feeding all along the beach and out to Gull Island. Surprisingly, there has been no report of a Rusty Blackbird in the Park this fall. The influx of birds this week included a few Purple Finches, three flocks of White-winged Crossbills, and many Pine Siskins. Perhaps Common Redpolls will be next.
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. Visitors to Gull Island should be prepared to wade through shin-deep water in which there is often a swift current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven. It should also be noted that, because duck hunting is given priority on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Gull Island, High Bluff Island, Owen Point, and part of the calf pasture are not available for bird-watching on those days.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.