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Birding Report Given that five of the past seven days at Presqu'ile Provincial Park have been rainy and most of them windy as well, it is surprising that there were any birders in the Park to see what was around. In fact, there was quite a lot of bird life, both on land and in the surrounding waters.
One of the helpful aspects of the easterly winds that have prevailed for the last few days is that many of the Horned Grebes in Popham Bay have moved in closer than usual to the shore, where thay can be seen without the help of a spotting scope. The ten Brant that were first found at Owen Point on October 17 were still there on October 20. A flock of close to 200 flew past the lighthouse on October 18. A Tundra Swan on the beach on October 16 has not been seen since.
Wood Ducks have been seen both in the marsh and in Popham Bay, a rather unusual location for this species. In the marsh, a female Northern Pintail was present on October 16 and a male on October 20. Hundreds of Green-winged Teal can be found every day, mostly on the beach and in the water off shore, but also in the marsh. A Surf Scoter was near the lighthouse on October 17, and a few Long-tailed Ducks have been there since that date. By far the most plentiful ducks around Presqu'ile this week are the Red-breasted Mergansers, with an estimated 10,000 in Popham Bay on October 20.
Two very late Osprey sightings occurred this week, one on October 18 and the other on October 20. Again this week, three species of falcons were seen, including one Peregrine Falcon on October 16 and two the next day. The most recent Merlin sighting was at the calf pasture on October 20.
There are still several hundred shorebirds along the beach, almost all Dunlins, but with a sprinkling of Black-bellied and Semipalmated Plovers, Sanderlings, and White-rumped and Pectoral Sandpipers. Among the ten species found this week, there were also one Greater Yellowlegs, a Red Knot on October 18 and 21, and two Semipalmated and one Baird's Sandpiper. Every year at this time, birders begin looking for the Purple Sandpipers which show up at Presqu'ile every year. Although November is the likeliest month in which to find these uncommon birds, there have been October sightings on a number of occasions in the past.
The Barred Owl that was perched in the open beside Lighthouse Lane near Denson Cottage in broad daylight on October 19 may have been a migrant, since the resident owls seldom venture that far east on the peninsula and usually stay well hidden.
Insectivorous birds are becoming scarcer with each passing week, but some of the recently lingering ones include Eastern Phoebes that are still being spotted every day, a Blue-headed Vireo on October 18, and a rather late Red-eyed Vireo on October 16. After an apparent absence of three days, the Tufted Titmouse that was first found almost two weeks ago re-appeared at 186 Bayshore Road on October 18 and made sporadic visits to the feeders there for the next two days. There is some reason to suspect that there might be two of these birds in the area, but finding them is not proving easy.
Hermit Thrushes have been exceptionally plentiful in the Park this week, but the Swainson's Thrush that died after flying into a window at 92 Bayshore Road on October 18 was the only other /Catharus/ thrush reported. An Orange-crowned Warbler was at the calf pasture on October 18, and on October 16 a Black-throated Blue Warbler and a Pine Warbler were seen.
An Eastern Towhee paid a brief visit to 186 Bayshore Road on October 18. Fox Sparrows were seen on October 16 and 19, and a Lincoln's Sparrow on October 16. American Tree Sparrows have probably already arrived in the Park, just waiting for the birders to find them. The first Snow Bunting of the season was found on Gull Island on October 19, the same date as the first one last year. A few Purple Finches and Pine Siskins have been appearing regularly at feeders along Bayshore Road.
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 should be prepared to wade through knee-deep water in which there is often a swift current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven. 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.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.