Migrant land birds are still evident in Presqu'ile Provincial Park but in somewhat reduced numbers. Other birds remain plentiful. This time of year has produced several rare birds in the past, as noted below.
Two BRANT were reported on October 21 and 22. The two long-staying TRUMPETER SWANS on and around Gull and Sebastopol Islands show no signs of departing. While most of the duck species that were present in the Park a week ago are still present, there are significantly more WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS and BUFFLEHEADS and one additional species, a HOODED MERGANSER. The family group of WILD TURKEYS that has been seen repeatedly in recent months at the calf pasture was seen again this week. On both Tuesday and Wednesday there were flyover SANDHILL CRANES, and one was in the marsh yesterday. Six shorebird species have been seen in the past week. SANDERLINGS and DUNLINS have dominated, but there were also four WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS on Sunday on Gull Island, a PECTORAL SANDPIPER on the beach on Saturday, four WILSON'S SNIPE in the woodpile marsh on Tuesday, two GREATER YELLOWLEGS in the marsh opposite the campground office on Saturday, and one of those on the south shore of High Bluff campground on Tuesday.
Earlier this week, hawks were migrating west, but mostly just outside the Park. Most were TURKEY VULTURES, with 28 in one flock on Sunday. Other species that were close enough to be visible from the Park included NORTHERN HARRIER, SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, COOPER'S HAWK, RED-SHOULDERED HAWK, RED-TAILED HAWK, and GOLDEN EAGLE. The most recent record of a NORTHERN HAWK-OWL at Presqu'ile was on October 30, 2000. Perhaps one will break the drought this weekend. A jogger flushed a BARRED OWL in Newcastle woods, and a scolding of chickadees drew attention to a NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL near the campground office on Sunday. MERLINS and a PEREGRINE FALCON have again been seen this week. A species that is more likely than NORTHERN HAWK-OWL is GYRFALCON: all of the four autumn records at Presqu'ile have occurred between October 25 and November 12.
An anonymous report of a YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER on October 23 cries out for documentation of some sort, perhaps a photograph, since it is two weeks later than the previous late record. A rare bird report should be provided to the Park office. Another rarity that might reappear is WHITE-EYED VIREO, since the two most recent sightings were on November 3 three years ago and October 27 last year. COMMON RAVENS continue to be sighted. The CAROLINA WREN that has been in the same general area since mid-September was seen again on Sunday. Eight EASTERN BLUEBIRDS were at the calf pasture on Saturday. Fifteen years ago, a TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE spent a few days at Presqu'ile from October 27-30. Small numbers of PURPLE FINCHES have been showing up at feeders and elsewhere this week. SNOW BUNTINGS have been frequenting the shores from one end of the Park to the other, with several flocks on Gull Island. A late NORTHERN PARULA was photographed on October 22.
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 water that is ankle-deep, not taking into account any wave action,.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, Owen Point, Gull Island, High Bluff Island, 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.