The predicted surge of passerine migrants after the weekend cold front proved to be more of a trickle, but an unexpected rarity and a resurgence of shorebirds have made for an exciting week of birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park.
In Popham Bay there have been a few REDHEADS and GREATER and LESSER SCAUP in recent days. BLACK-BILLED CUCKOOS have been seen in two different locations this week. COMMON NIGHTHAWKS should soon be passing through the Park in their fall migration. Fifteen species of shorebirds have been seen in the past week. Highlights include BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, RED KNOT (first found yesterday evening and present for much of today), STILT SANDPIPER (seen and photographed yesterday for the first time in a week and a half), SANDERLINGS, BAIRD'S SANDPIPER, WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER, SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER, SOLITARY SANDPIPER (at south beach near High Bluff campground). Both adult and immature GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS have been on the beach. One birder encountered an AMERICAN BITTERN in the flooded area of the beach and flushed it into a tree. As many as 19 GREAT EGRETS have been seen, mostly on High Bluff Island. The highlight of the week has been a CATTLE EGRET that showed up on Monday and was still present this morning. Two GREEN HERONS were also seen. The occasional visits of one or two OSPREYS to the former nest site on the Salt Point lighthouse are too infrequent to indicate breeding.
RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER and MERLIN are two uncommon species that summer and likely breed at Presqu'ile, and both have been seen this week. A surprising out-of-season find on the beach on Sunday was a HORNED LARK. For the second consecutive week a BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER was seen. It is impossible to differentiate between warblers that are dispersing summer residents and those that are returning migrants, but most of the following species seen in the past week away from their breeding territories could fit into either category: NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH, MOURNING WARBLER, BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER, CANADA WARBLER. A SCARLET TANAGER seen this week could also fit into that category. ORCHARD ORIOLES can often be seen at 83 Bayshore Road.
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. Birders are encouraged to record their observations on the bird sightings board provided near the campground office by The Friends of Presqu'ile Park and to fill out a rare bird report for species not listed there.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.