Birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park has come in spurts in the past few days, some days being "hopping with birds” and others being less so. A certain amount of luck determines when, where, and whether one will stumble on a flock of migrants, let alone individuals of the less common species. A second printing of a book entitledFor the Birds: Recollections and Rambles, by Fred Helleiner, will soon be available from the author (see below) for $20 plus $2.50 for postage. It will also be sold at the Lighthouse Gift Shop in the Park and 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.
There is still opportunity to see the ducks in Popham Bay before the duck hunt that begins on September 28 makes them more wary. Eight species of dabbling ducks have been seen in the past week, and increasing numbers of diving ducks. The raft of GREATER SCAUP that builds up there to the hundreds by next month has already grown to several dozen. At least fifty HORNED GREBES are also in Popham Bay. A RUFFED GROUSE was drumming on the surprisingly late date of September 17. A single AMERICAN BITTERN and a few GREAT BLUE HERONS are the only members of that clade seen this week. BALD EAGLE was the most interesting raptor of the week. Among the thirteen shorebird species of this week (a disappointingly low number) were two each of BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER and AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER today. The most unusual shorebird sighting was of a SOLITARY SANDPIPER in the middle of Paxton Drive, far from the nearest water, while another of that species flew overhead. It behaved as if injured and was found dead later in the day having apparently been run over by a car. As well, both GREATER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS and BAIRD'S and PECTORAL SANDPIPERS were seen. The FORSTER'S TERN that was reported last week appeared for four consecutive days (until September 17) and was seen by many. At this time of year jaegers appear almost every year and should be watched for.
A ROCK PIGEON, a GREAT HORNED OWL, and a BARRED OWL, all found this week, are species uncommonly seen at Presqu'ile. A RED-HEADED WOODPECKER flew past the lighthouse. A PEREGRINE FALCON was seen on September 13. BLUE-HEADED, WARBLING, PHILADELPHIA, and RED-EYED VIREOS were all present in multiple numbers. An early HORNED LARK was photographed at Owen Point on September 14, a day when the first AMERICAN PIPIT of the fall was also seen. Large numbers of warblers (twenty species) have been passing through during most of the week. Although many, if not most, remained unidentified as they hid in the foliage, there were two sightings of ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, one of them photographed. Two observers recorded 20 NORTHERN PARULAS on September 13, apparently a Park record. LINCOLN'S SPARROWS were seen on two different days. The first DARK-EYED JUNCO appeared on September 13 and another was found on the following day.
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. Only one birder, to my knowledge, has attempted the crossing in the past week. He has not repeated the attempt. 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.