Birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park in mid-October contrasts starkly with birding a month earlier. Gone are most of the insectivorous birds, and beginning to appear are some that are considered winter birds in this region.
Three Cackling Geese, perhaps the same three that were reported earlier, were seen flying past Gull Island on October 5. As yet there have been no reports of Brant or Tundra Swans, both of which normally pass through Presqu'ile in small numbers in October. A concentration of dabbling ducks in the marsh provides good roadside viewing these days of half a dozen species. Two Ring-necked Ducks were among them on October 9. Other diving ducks are mostly concentrated in Popham Bay, where there is a large raft of Greater Scaup, along with a few Surf Scoters, White-winged Scoters, and Long-tailed Ducks. Surf Scoters have also been present for much of the past week in Presqu'ile Bay.
About twenty Common Loons were off beach 1 on October 9. Horned Grebes are scattered here and there in Popham Bay, and a Red-necked Grebe has been seen there twice this week. Double-crested Cormorants are increasingly difficult to find, as all but a few have moved on. A Great Egret spent the entire day in the marsh on October 9, which may be a record late date for that species in the Park. A Black-crowned Night-Heron
on October 3 was also late, as was an Osprey two days later. A Bald Eagle at the calf pasture on October 4 may be the first of those that winter in the area. A Peregrine Falcon sat on Sebastopol Island on October 9, before taking off to the west. There were two sightings of Ruffed Grouse in the past week. On October 7, an American Coot was off 30 Bayshore Road, where large numbers congregate later in the season. While not as plentiful as a month ago, there are still flocks of shorebirds between the beach and Gull Island. Among others seen as recently as October 9 were American Golden-Plover
, Ruddy Turnstone, and White-rumped Sandpiper. The presence of many Bonaparte's Gulls is an invitation to search for a Little Gull among them. After many unsuccessful attempts on the part of two birders in the past few weeks to persuade the vocal Barred Owls in Jobes' Woods to show their faces, one finally co-operated on October 8. Hooting and persistence eventually pay off.
A Red-bellied Woodpecker was opposite 83 Bayshore Road on October 3. With a Fork-tailed Flycatcher and a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher both appearing elsewhere in south-eastern Ontario this week, one is reminded that southern and western flycatchers of various rare species do irregularly wander into this part of the continent at this time of year and Presqu'ile is as likely a spot as any to find one. Unfortunately, the only flycatchers seen this week were Eastern Phoebes, of which one observer counted eight in various parts of the Park in a couple of hours on Tuesday morning. Several species of warblers have been around this week, including Orange-crowned Warblers, a Northern Parula, and a Blackpoll Warbler. An Eastern Towhee on October 7 and a Fox Sparrow on October 6 were not unexpected, but a Snow Bunting on Gull Island on October 5 appears to be a record early date and is not an entirely welcome reminder of the season ahead.
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. It should be noted that, because duck hunting is given priority on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Gull Island, High Bluff Island, 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.