It is typical of migration seasons that birding on some days is very slow while other days can best be described as a bonanza, and birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park during the past week has been no exception, though the slow days have outnumbered the bonanzas. The weather of the past two days (September 8 and 9), with its northerly winds, has contrasted strongly with that which had prevailed for several previous days, and the response of migrating birds has been very encouraging.
A Red-necked Grebe, the first of the season, was swimming in Presqu'ile Bay near Salt Point on September 3. Great Egrets are being sighted almost every day in the western part of the Park. A Black-crowned Night-Heron
on September 3 was the first of that species seen at Presqu'ile for several weeks. Flocks of dabbling ducks are building up, as they usually do prior to the start of the hunting season, in the vicinity of Gull Island. The majority are Mallards, Blue-winged Teal, and Green-winged Teal. A White-winged Scoter was seen near there on September 6.
One lucky observer spotted two different Bald Eagles on consecutive days, an adult on September 8 and an immature on September 9. Both were flying over the beach area. The same observer watched a Peregrine Falcon attack a group of shorebirds at Owen Point on September 9.
Again this week, shorebirds have been the main attraction for birders coming to Presqu'ile, and will probably be a feature of the Ontario Field Ornithologists' excursion in the Park on September 12. Beach 3 and Owen Point have been major gathering areas for these birds, but even more have been taking advantage of the lack of human disturbance on Gull Island, which has been off limits and will remain so until September 11, after which some intrepid birders may choose to wade out to the island. At least nineteen species of shorebirds were reported in the past week, including at least two Western Sandpipers (most recently on September 6) and Whimbrels on three different days (September 4, 8, and 9). American Golden-Plovers
and Dunlins are among the later-arriving shorebirds that have been seen in small numbers for several days. Exceptionally high numbers of certain species have been counted: 18 Red Knots, 106 White-rumped Sandpipers, 83 Pectoral Sandpipers, 15 Stilt Sandpipers.
Four species of terns were in Popham Bay on September 8, including Forster's Tern and Black Tern. Although it is highly unlikely, there is a remote possibility that yet another species will appear in the Park in the next few days, having been swept northward from the Caribbean or the Gulf of Mexico with the trailing edge of Hurricane Frances, which brought strong winds to the area on September 9. On September 6, a Parasitic Jaeger was also seen in Popham Bay.
Several songbird species that normally migrate through Presqu'ile somewhat later in the autumn put in their first appearances during the past week: Blue-headed Vireo (September 8), Winter Wren (September 5), Golden-crowned
and Ruby-crowned Kinglets (September 8), American Pipit (September 8). Orange-crowned Warblers, another late-migrating species, have not yet appeared this fall but could show up any day now. A good variety of other warblers is still present, including several Northern Parulas.
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. After September 10, visitors to Gull Island not using a boat should be prepared to wade through water of uncertain depth in which there is often a swift current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.