Birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park has certainly slowed down from what it has been in recent weeks, but the lure of possible rarities, of which one was found this week, keeps birders actively in the field.
For the second consecutive week, a Snow Goose was found in the Park. One observer saw it on November 8 and it was discovered again in a flock of Canada Geese on November 12, this time along the beach and out in Popham Bay. Fairly reliable dabbling ducks in the marsh are Gadwall, American Wigeon, and Northern Pintail. The numbers of Green-winged Teal there have diminished considerably. When that area freezes over, the remaining few will likely gather on the beach. Long-tailed Ducks have returned in large numbers and are now probably the most common duck at Presqu'ile. In the late twentieth century, King Eiders were frequently seen at Presqu'ile at this time of year, and the possibility exists that another will show up soon. There are still many Common Loons and a few Horned Grebes in the offshore waters.
Rough-legged Hawks were seen on November 9 over High Bluff Island and November 13 (two at Gull Island). On November 12, six lucky birders were able to watch a rare visitor from the north, a Gyrfalcon, as it moved to and fro between Owen Point and High Bluff Island, occasionally landing on the beach and in a tree. In addition to a possible sighting of this species in March of this year, there have been two other records in the past six years, both in late October and early November. A Ruffed Grouse was flushed twice at the lighthouse. Large numbers of Dunlins have dominated the shorebird flocks this week, but there have also been a few Black-bellied Plovers and Sanderlings, a surprisingly late Least Sandpiper on November 9, a single White-rumped Sandpiper, and single Purple Sandpipers on Gull Island and on the beach, the latter on November 13. A post-script to last week's report of a Black-legged Kittiwake is an indication from three photographs taken at different times that three different individual birds were present. On most days, birders have been able to find two Snowy Owls, including, on one occasion, two birds at one time in the field of a spotting scope.
Two Northern Shrikes were seen on November 7, and two Eastern Bluebirds on November 10. There were still a dozen American Pipits on Gull Island today. A very late Yellow-rumped Warbler was at the lighthouse on November 11. A late Fox Sparrow that has been lingering at 83 and 85 Bayshore Road may be tempted to stay for the winter. It was seen as recently as November 12. The only later record from Presqu'ile was one in mid-winter some years ago. There are numerous finches to be found, mostly Pine Siskins and American Goldfinches, but there were two flocks of White-winged Crossbills on November 7, a few Purple Finches are also around, and a single Common Redpoll was at 186 Bayshore Road on November 10.
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.