Finding birds in the open areas around the shores of Presqu'ile Provincial Park is easier these days than searching through the leafy forests for migrating landbirds. For this reason, most of the birders visiting the Park this week have been concentrating on finding shorebirds (in surroundings that are more natural and aesthetic than the sewage lagoons that these birds frequent elsewhere in southern Ontario). At least temporarily, access to the two locations favoured by shorebirds is problematic. Last night's storm created waves that have flooded the Owen Point trail, and it might take a day or two for the trail to dry up. Meanwhile, rubber boots are recommended. On most days, there are more shorebirds on Gull Island than on the mainland, most of which are beyond the range of even a good scope. Unfortunately, access is not permitted to Gull Island until September 10, ostensibly to protect the breeding colonial birds from disturbance, even though their breeding has already ended. An earlier lifting of that restriction, say after Labour Day, would be welcomed by most birders at a time when shorebird migration is at its peak.
There are still plenty of WOOD DUCKS in the marsh, 17 in today's count.
There were three AMERICAN WIGEONS, the first in a few weeks, at Owen Point today. Both BLUE-WINGED and GREEN-WINGED TEALS have been in the Owen Point/Gull Island area, and today a COMMON MERGANSER was swimming between those two locations. GREAT EGRETS are almost gone from High Bluff Island, where they nested, and are showing up elsewhere around the Park.
A TURKEY VULTURE was seen on August 22. Two or three OSPREYS are being seen almost every day now, and immature BALD EAGLES, usually only one but two at the calf pasture on August 21, are also being seen fairly regularly. Two RUFFED GROUSE emerged from the woods to feed in a garden behind 83 Bayshore Road. The first AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER of the year was at Owen Point on August 24. A few SANDERLINGS, a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER, several BAIRD'S SANDPIPERS, and a PECTORAL SANDPIPER have been among the large flocks of LEAST and SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS. A DOWITCHER, presumably SHORT-BILLED but too far away to be certain of its specific identity, was seen on Gull Island today. The next shorebirds to show up might be BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS and/or RED-NECKED PHALAROPES, both of which are rare but regular at Presqu'ile at the end of August. BONAPARTE'S and GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS have both been present at Owen Point. The first COMMON TERN in over a week was near the lighthouse on August 23.
A flock of 25 ROCK PIGEONS flew over Owen Point. Two BARRED OWLS were heard behind 83 Bayshore Road. A CHIMNEY SWIFT flew over on August 23.
RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS continue to visit the feeders at 83 Bayshore Road. A CAROLINA WREN was at the lighthouse on August 21 and 22, and might still be lurking in the thick undergrowth there. BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS have been present in small numbers. The best warbler find of the week was a BLUE-WINGED WARBLER on August 23, which overshadowed a number of others such as TENNESSEE, NORTHERN PARULA, CAPE MAY, BAY-BREASTED, WILSON'S, and CANADA. A WHITE-THROATED SPARROW, a few BOBOLINKS, and a PURPLE FINCH round out the sightings of the past week.