The unseasonably warm weather of the past week has made for pleasant birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park but has slowed down the fall migration. In fact, some birds are lingering later than usual as a result. At the same time, at least one very early winter bird has been spotted.
There are a few dozen dabbling ducks, including the ever-popular WOOD DUCKS, that are constantly visible to the left (west) of the camp office viewing platform, where they are safe from hunters. This is where a EURASIAN WIGEON was present last year from late October to early December. Most other ducks are remaining far off shore, where identification is almost impossible without a scope. On a calm October 11 morning, the first two RING-NECKED DUCKS of the fall were spotted in a group of REDHEADS. SURF SCOTERS have been the most numerous of that genus in Popham Bay this week, but both WHITE-WINGED and BLACK SCOTERS have also been seen. Today a HOODED MERGANSER was off Gull Island and a RED-NECKED GREBE was off the calf pasture. In the marsh an AMERICAN BITTERN posed motionless for four lucky observers and a GREAT EGRET on October 11 was almost but not quite a record late date for Presqu'ile.
A BALD EAGLE was seen at the lighthouse today. ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS should be appearing soon, the highest ever count at Presqu'ile being recorded in mid- to late October. A MERLIN was again harassing shorebirds at Owen Point today. A COMMON GALLINULE and an AMERICAN COOT have both been seen from the camp office viewing platform, and a flock of a couple of dozen or more of the latter has been off Sebastopol Island for the past three days. BLACK-BELLIED and SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS are on the beach every day, and an AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER was there on October 10 and 11. Among the well over 100 SANDERLINGS, "PEEPS", and DUNLINS that are still moving around the beach and Owen Point are many WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS, with 95 of them counted by one observer on October 9. An AMERICAN WOODCOCK was again flushed from the Owen Point trail this morning. The first LITTLE GULL of the season was on the beach on October 7. On the following day an adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was photographed there and a late CASPIAN TERN was also seen. At noon today two SHORT-EARED OWLS were spotted on Gull Island, one of their preferred locations in the Park. (No, they were not Spotted Owls, just spotted owls.) No doubt there are NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS in the Park now, but a search today was unsuccessful.
The record late date for RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD at Presqu'ile was broken twice in the past week, the first time on October 8 and then again on October 11. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS can often be found at the calf pasture and at 83 Bayshore Road. A record early NORTHERN SHRIKE was at the calf pasture on October 12. A CAROLINA WREN was heard near the lighthouse and another (or perhaps the same one) has paid a few visits to 83 Bayshore Road. BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS are not often seen this late, but two were seen recently, one on October 9 and the other on the 13th. A GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH was seen on October 11 . By far the majority of the warblers still at Presqu'ile are YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, but a sprinkling of others has included six other species:
ORANGE-CROWNED, BLACK-THROATED BLUE, PINE, PALM, BLACKPOLL, and COMMON YELLOWTHROAT. Up to three EASTERN TOWHEES have been frequenting the tangles at the back of 83 Bayshore Road. PINE SISKINS have not been as plentiful as a week ago.
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. 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.Fred Helleiner