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Birding Report

Two surprising bird sightings, both photographed, livened things up for birders at Presqu'ile Provincial Park in the past week. At a time of year when bird life is only beginning to emerge from the stasis of summer, most days are highly predictable and surprises are indeed few and welcome.

GADWALLS and MALLARDS are the commonest ducks at this time of year, the former numbering about 15 on the north shore of Gull Island. An unidentified SCAUP, up to three COMMON MERGANSERS, and a RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, all in Popham Bay were also of interest. In the afternoon of July 18, five years almost to the day from the previous sighting at Presqu'ile, an AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN flew in and landed on Owen Point, where it stayed for the rest of the day. The occurrence of this western species in late July or August in various places on Lake Ontario in recent years has begun to develop into a pattern.
The dispersal of GREAT EGRETS and BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS from their nest sites means that they are being seen regularly in other parts of the Park, often flying overhead.

The fall migration of shorebirds has stalled, with only about 15 individuals, excluding KILLDEERS and SPOTTED SANDPIPERS, being seen on any given day. Among others, a few SANDERLINGS have been scattered along the beach all week, and both species of YELLOWLEGS have also appeared briefly. UPLAND SANDPIPERS are rare at Presqu'ile, but this is the time when they occasionally appear where there is low vegetation beside the beach. Single BONAPARTE'S GULLS have been seen both at beach 3 and at the lighthouse.

An intriguing record was that of a juvenile SAW-WHET OWL, the first July record for Presqu'ile and only the second summer record, which was discovered by a Park employee on High Bluff Island. One has to wonder whether that bird fledged somewhere in the Park. Dozens of SWALLOWS of various species are beginning to line the wires along Bayshore Road. A male and female PURPLE FINCH showed up at the Owen Point trail parking lot. Mercifully, the HOUSE SPARROWS that raised a family near the lighthouse have not been seen for a week.

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