A few interesting birds have shown up in Presqu'ile Provincial Park in the past week, but the overall pattern of observations has been close to normal for the time of year.
Distant sightings of white-phased SNOW GEESE, one among Canada Geese and six others together, required sharp eyes. Two TRUMPETER SWANS were on Sebastopol Island on October 3, in addition to the swan whose identity has been the subject of debate for weeks, which was still present today. Numbers and variety of both dabbling ducks and diving ducks have been increasing. They include a NORTHERN SHOVELER in the marsh, a few NORTHERN PINTAILS, hundreds of REDHEADS, up to four RING-NECKED DUCKS in the marsh, both GREATER SCAUP and LESSER SCAUP, and SURF SCOTERS and WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS. A group of WILD TURKEYS, 13 in number, was again seen. Off the beach on Sunday there were 95 HORNED GREBES and two RED-NECKED GREBES.
For the first time this year, water levels have been low enough to allow good numbers of shorebirds to feed at Owen Point, in addition to those on the offshore islands and, after a rainstorm, in pools on the beach. There have been several AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS and RUDDY TURNSTONES. The majority are SANDERLINGS and DUNLINS, but other species have included SEMIPALMATED PLOVER, BAIRD'S SANDPIPER, LEAST SANDPIPER, WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER, SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER, SPOTTED SANDPIPER, GREATER YELLOWLEGS, LESSER YELLOWLEGS, and WILSON'S SNIPE. The highlight, however, was a very cooperative LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER on the beach on the weekend. Rounding out the shorebird tally was an AMERICAN WOODCOCK flushed on the Owen Point trail yesterday, for a total of 15 species. Two BONAPARTE'S GULLS and a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL were the only noteworthy gulls, but two COMMON TERNS off Gull Island on Tuesday were very late. An AMERICAN BITTERN heard calling and seen in flight was of interest, as was the continuing presence of GREAT EGRETS, including the roost at the calf pasture as recently as September 30.
An actual count of eight BALD EAGLES on September 30 was exceptional. The most recent sighting of EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE was on September 30. Three HORNED LARKS were on Gull Island on Sunday. It may be of interest to those on the lookout for rarities that two western thrush species, TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE and VARIED THRUSH have both showed up at Presqu'ile in October in the past. Two AMERICAN PIPITS were on Gull Island today. Warblers have become scarce since the end of September, but there have been ten species in the past five days, including a few ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS and a late BAY-BREASTED WARBLER. A LINCOLN'S SPARROW was seen on Saturday.
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 water that is thigh-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, Gull Island, High Bluff Island, Owen Point, 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.