Birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park has been rewarding this week, and the cold front that arrived last night has continued the trend.
One TRUMPETER SWAN has been seen pretty regularly on or near Sebastopol Island, and two were on Owen Point on August 28. Among the other ducks along the north shore of Gull Island were a NORTHERN SHOVELER on Tuesday and a NORTHERN PINTAIL on two different days. A GREATER SCAUP is often seen with the small group of REDHEADS in Popham Bay. Four RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS were seen on Tuesday. RED-NECKED GREBES have been spotted in both Popham Bay and Presqu'ile Bay. Both YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO and BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO were found on Saturday, but the former was only heard. Three COMMON NIGHTHAWKS were at the calf pasture on August 26, seven were at the lighthouse on Tuesday, and one was seen this evening.
Shorebirds continue to be an attraction at Owen Point and on the beach. The first WHIMBREL of the season was photographed today. The only STILT SANDPIPER was at the tip of Owen Point briefly on August 29. A few BAIRD'S SANDPIPERS are there every day. Single BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS were seen on August 27 and 28. A SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER was with the aforementioned STILT SANDPIPER. There are other shorebirds that are still likely to show up, including AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER and possibly RED-NECKED PHALAROPE.
There were sightings in the past week of AMERICAN BITTERN, GREAT EGRET, GREEN HERON, and BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON. A BALD EAGLE was photographed at the calf pasture yesterday. The first significant hawk migration of the fall was detected this morning, featuring several SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS and BROAD-WINGED HAWKS, the latter species not normally migrating this close to the lake shore. A BARRED OWL was photographed on Sunday. Two PILEATED WOODPECKERS were at Salt Point. MERLINS have been patrolling the shore, and yesterday a PEREGRINE FALCON was also seen there.
OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHERS were seen on four occasions, and YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHERS on two. Five vireo species were seen this week: YELLOW-THROATED, BLUE-HEADED, PHILADELPHIA, WARBLING, RED-EYED. Two BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS were seen on Saturday. Two very early sightings of HERMIT THRUSH on August 28 were in different parts of the Park. A NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD was an unusual sighting. A bird that usually puts in an appearance in September is LAPLAND LONGSPUR, but most of the records are from Gull Island, which remains off limits until September 11.
Warblers in loose flocks are being found all over the Park these days. Most of the ones that are being identified (despite their confusing plumages and their habit of flitting among the foliage) are not unusual, but a report of an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER on August 27 certainly is, because of the exceptionally early date. TENNESSEE WARBLERS and CAPE MAY WARBLERS have also been among them. Another exceptionally early sighting was of a reported LINCOLN'S SPARROW on August 27. SCARLET TANAGERS are being seen almost daily, with very few showing any red colouration.
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.
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.