Although autumn has an astronomical definition, in ornithological terms there is considerable evidence that autumn has already begun at Presqu'ile Provincial Park. Birds of various kinds are gathering in flocks, others are appearing in places where they have not been seen since spring, and a few returning migrants arrive every few days.
Pied-billed Grebes are common enough in the marsh, but now that the young are fledged and dispersing, the numbers of this species have risen sharply. The heron family was well represented in the Park this week, with up to three Least Bitterns in the marsh on August 2, numerous Great Blue Herons, smaller numbers of Great Egrets, and Green Herons on two different days.
Two Wood Ducks in the marsh on August 4 were visible from the road. Three Green-winged Teal, the first of the season, were at Gull Island on August 3. On July 30 and August 1, the two Greater Scaup that have been frequenting the waters around Gull Island were seen again.
As this report was being composed, two Ospreys, each struggling to stay airborne while carrying a moderately large fish, flew west low over the water of Presqu'ile Bay, about one hundred metres apart. Earlier in the day, Northern Harriers were seen at the beach and at the lighthouse, suggesting that a migratory movement may have been under way.
Although much of the algae that was providing good shorebird habitat north of Owen Point throughout much of July has recently become submerged, there are still a few shorebirds of interest there: a few Sanderlings and Semipalmated and Least Sandpipers, and, on July 30, two Lesser Yellowlegs and a Stilt Sandpiper. On Gull Island there were two Red Knots on August 3, both in colourful breeding plumage. This month will likely see the peak of fall shorebird migration at Presqu'ile. At Owen Point, there have been up to seven Bonaparte's Gulls in various plumages and an immature Forster's Tern on August 2 that was seen by seven observers.
Two of the resident Barred Owls were discovered in Jobes' Woods at dusk on August 3, sitting in the trees above Paxton Drive and emitting various squawks, while nearby American Robins vocally expressed their concern.
flycatcher, believed to be a Least Flycatcher, was at the lighthouse on July 3. All of the regular swallow species except Northern Rough-winged Swallow were reported in the Park this week. The two Brown Creepers seen on August 2 were likely local birds that had dispersed from another part of the Park.
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. Access to the offshore islands is restricted at this time of year to prevent disturbance to the colonial nesting birds there.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.