Although most of the migrant songbirds have departed from Presqu'ile Provincial Park, there are many other interesting birds more typical of this time of year that attract birders to the Park and seldom disappoint them.
A surprisingly large aggregation of Red-throated Loons, estimated at 35, was at the lighthouse on November 8, along with a few Horned Grebes. On November 9, a Red-necked Grebe was swimming among the Mallards in that part of the marsh that had not frozen over the night before. Double-crested Cormorants were being seen daily up to November 7, but there have been no reports since then. Two Great Blue Herons flew over the marsh on November 11, the first of that species in almost two weeks.
A flock of 37 Snow Geese that flew over Gull Island on November 7 was an unusual sighting for the Park. A Brant was with the Canada Geese on the beach on the following day. Several small flocks of Tundra Swans, the largest containing 13 birds, passed through Presqu'ile on November 6 and 7. Two Gadwalls were seen off Gull Island on November 7. A flock of Black Scoters, up to 12 on November 9, has been in Popham Bay since November 7, and a somewhat larger number of White-winged Scoters has been seen regularly off the south shore of Gull Island.
A Rough-legged Hawk flew past High Bluff Island on November 9, and a Merlin was there on November 9 and 11.
Shorebirds are becoming difficult to find, but five species were seen this week: a few Black-bellied Plovers and White-rumped Sandpipers, two or three dozen Dunlins, and singles of Greater Yellowlegs and Purple Sandpiper. The latter was foraging on Sebastopol Island on November 11. Between November 7 and 10, two or three Little Gulls were seen in various parts of the Park, wherever large numbers of Bonaparte's Gulls were milling about. The first Glaucous Gull of the season was with a few other gulls on a gravel bar off Sebastopol Island on November 9. A dead Thayer's Gull was found on the beach on November 8.
The first Snowy Owl of the season appeared on Gull Island on November 7. That bird, or another, was seen again on November 9 and 10, but on November 11 there were three birds, none of which was in the very white plumage of the original bird. One of the three sat on High Bluff Island, another flew to and fro between Gull Island and Sebastopol Island, and the third remained on Gull Island.
Single Northern Shrikes were seen on November 9 and 10. Also on November 9, the second Common Raven of the fall was found at the High Bluff campground. The Tufted Titmouse that was first discovered over a month ago continues to pay sporadic visits to the feeders at 186 and 191 Bayshore Road, providing the opportunity for some birders to add that species to their life lists. Two thrush species of interest were found in the Park this week: a Hermit Thrush was found freshly killed on the road on November 8, and two live Eastern Bluebirds were feeding near the park store the day before. An American Pipit on Gull Island on November 11 and a Yellow-rumped Warbler near the lighthouse on November 9 were rather late stragglers. On November 7, a Purple Finch accompanied the swarm of Pine Siskins that has repeatedly been coming to the feeders at 186 Bayshore Road. Perhaps the next finch to show up at a feeder at Presqu'ile will be an Evening Grosbeak, four of which were at a feeder just outside the Park on November 8.
The Friends of Presqu'ile Park recently discovered a previously hidden box of 40 pristine copies of the 1993 book, Birds of Presqu'ile Provincial Park, long thought to be out of print. The remaining 20 copies will be available for sale at $5.00 a copy at the Lighthouse Interpretive Centre on November 13 and 14. Although the contents need updating, the price is still a bargain.
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 shin-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.