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Birding Report

This has been a week of steady but not spectacular fall bird migration at Presqu'ile Provincial Park. Many birds, especially insectivorous ones, have left, but many more have not yet arrived, so there will be sufficient activity to captivate the Trent University ornithology class and any other bird-oriented groups or individuals that will visit the Park this weekend.

No large flocks of migrant ducks have yet appeared at Presqu'ile, but a single NORTHERN PINTAIL, a flock of six GADWALLS, and another of 30 AMERICAN WIGEONS are a sign of things to come, though it may be increasingly difficult to find them after the waterfowl hunt commences on Saturday. An AMERICAN BITTERN and a BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON were both located last weekend. The latter was fishing on the shore of High Bluff Island and was joined by a second bird of that species on the following day.
Among the smattering of hawks were two sightings of single BALD EAGLES, at least one of which was the first adult here this fall. Seven SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS early on September 19 were the highest count of any raptor. Anyone waiting long enough at the beach or on Gull Island is likely to see a MERLIN, to which attention may be drawn by a sudden flush of shorebirds or ducks. There was a PEREGRINE FALCON there on September 18. Between Atkins Lane and 175 Bayshore Road, a WILD TURKEY, presumably always the same bird, was seen on five different days in the past week.

Though varying in number (over 200 on one day) and species composition from day to day, shorebirds continue to provide easy and reliable bird finding. The "regulars" this week have included BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS, AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS, lots of SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, GREATER YELLOWLEGS, a late SPOTTED SANDPIPER, several WHIMBRELS (usually on Gull Island), SEMIPALMATED, LEAST, WHITE-RUMPED, BAIRD'S, and PECTORAL SANDPIPERS, and increasing numbers of DUNLINS. The highlight, however, was a HUDSONIAN GODWIT that stopped briefly on September 20 and has not been seen since. A rare bird report for that sighting would be appreciated by the Park staff. It is almost time for a RED PHALAROPE to appear, though that does not happen every year. A rather late CASPIAN TERN was on Sebastopol Island today.

BARRED OWLS are known to be in the Park all the time, but having three located in one week (this week) is exceptional, as is the one that was hunting in daylight today. The most recent RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD sighting, though not the latest on record, was on September 22. A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER was not far from the Nature Centre on September 18. "Dozens" of NORTHERN FLICKERS were near the Park entrance on September 19, and an equally surprising 16 or so EASTERN PHOEBES were in another part of the Park on September 24. The well-described OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER seen at the calf pasture on September 18 was almost a record late date. A PHILADELPHIA VIREO and a WOOD THRUSH were still present on September 19. The first HORNED LARK of the season was on Gull Island on September 19.

The elusive ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER was at the lighthouse on three different dates, and a late YELLOW WARBLER was there on September 23. A BAY-BREASTED WARBLER on September 18 and a CANADA WARBLER on the following day were noteworthy. Early sparrow-related birds in the past week have included an EASTERN TOWHEE on September 19, a WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW on September 24, and DARK-EYED JUNCOES on four different dates since September 17.

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 not using a boat should be prepared to wade through knee-deep water in which there is often a swift current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven and slippery. 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 after tomorrow, i.e., beginning on Septeember 26. Birders are encouraged to record their observations on the bird sightings board provided near the campground office by The Friends of Presqu'ile Park and to fill out a rare bird report for species not listed there.

Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.