The influx of birders to Presqu'ile Provincial Park in the past few days has been matched by a spate of interesting bird sightings, despite the unseasonably hot weather. The imminent cold front with its accompanying northerly winds will likely enhance the prospects of good birding. A new book entitledFor the Birds: Recollections and Rambles, by Fred Helleiner, is available from the author (see below) for $20 plus $2.50 for postage. It is also being sold at the Lighthouse Gift Shop in the Park and a second printing will soon be available at Out on a Limb and Lighthouse Books in Brighton. All profits are being donated to the Friends of Presqu'ile's 25th Anniversary Environmental Fund, which sponsors long-term projects like the eradication of invasive species. This message is authorized by the Ontbirds Coordinator.
The odd goose resembling a SNOW GOOSE reported last week continues to frequent the beach. Ducks of various stripes have been appearing in gradually increasing numbers. WOOD DUCKS are in the marsh every day, and various other dabbling ducks, including GADWALLS, AMERICAN WIGEONS, and NORTHERN PINTAILS, are on the north shore of Gull Island and in the adjacent waters. Diving ducks are also represented in that area, including REDHEADS, GREATER SCAUP, COMMON MERGANSERS, and RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS (eight yesterday), as well as two HORNED and one RED-NECKED GREBE on Sunday.
A RUFFED GROUSE was flushed at the lighthouse today. Within minutes of each other, one observer saw an AMERICAN BITTERN, a GREAT BLUE HERON, and a GREEN HERON on September 9. Three GREAT EGRETS were still present on Sunday. A NORTHERN GOSHAWK on September 7 was exceptionally early. Though Presqu'ile is not on any of the notable flight paths for migrating hawks, there was some evident movement taking place on Sunday, involving nine species. The highlights were a very high OSPREY, perhaps as many as three BALD EAGLES, and an early BROAD-WINGED HAWK, a species not often encountered at Presqu'ile in fall. Another report was of a large, dark raptor identified, with some hesitation, as a GOLDEN EAGLE.
A BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER was on Gull Island yesterday, and an AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER was on the beach on Saturday. A LESSER YELLOWLEGS on Friday, a RED KNOT on Saturday, BAIRD'S SANDPIPERS almost every day, a PECTORAL SANDPIPER on two different days, and at least one DUNLIN were among nine sandpiper species seen in the past week, not including an AMERICAN WOODCOCK. Half a dozen BONAPARTE'S GULLS flew past the lighthouse towards the lake late yesterday, perhaps part of the group that has been spending the days at the nearby sewage lagoon. Among the gulls and CASPIAN TERNS around Gull Island yesterday was an immature FORSTER'S TERN, apparently the first of its kind in the Park this year.
A lucky couple had stunning views of a BARRED OWL. A COMMON NIGHTHAWK on September 6 was likely the last of the season. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS were at 83 Bayshore Road on three different days. A PEREGRINE FALCON was seen on Saturday and MERLINS at the rate of one a day.
The most recent OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER was on September 6. Other flycatchers of note include eleven "TRAILL'S” FLYCATCHERS" on September 9 and GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHERS as recently as today. Five vireo species were found this week, the most unusual being a YELLOW-THROATED VIREO seen by one observer on Sunday. A BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER was at 186 Bayshore Road today and a RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET at 83 Bayshore Road on Monday. A few migrant thrushes have appeared, including VEERY, GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH, and SWAINSON'S THRUSH. Perhaps surprisingly, no one has yet reported any AMERICAN PIPITS, which may be arriving with the cold front. Among the 22 warbler species seen during the past week were an OVENBIRD, TENNESSEE, MOURNING, CAPE MAY, YELLOW, PRAIRIE, and CANADA WARBLERS. The next to arrive will surely be ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS, which should have been here by now. SCARLET TANAGER, ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK, and BALTIMORE ORIOLE round out the list of this week's birds, all three of which will soon be gone.
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 (not allowing for waves) in which there is often a swift current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven and slippery. Until further notice (perhaps tonight), access to Gull Island is restricted. 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.