There were no major flight days this week but a good selection of birds are still passing through. Waterfowl numbers continue to build, especially off the beach in Popham Bay. Shorebirds numbers remain low but diversity is good. They are mostly on Gull Island, which requires wading a channel that is about 70 cm deep at the deepest point. Warblers and flycatchers are nearing the end of their stay with us and are becoming scarce, but sparrows are picking up.
Two GREATER SNOW GEESE found on 4 Oct remained through the week, usually with gulls and geese in Beach 3. Most expected puddle ducks were seen either in the marsh or around the islands. The traditional flock of diving ducks, mostly SCAUP and REDHEAD, has started to build in Popham Bay with 900 seen on 10 Oct. The first SURF SCOTER was off the Lighthouse on 6 Oct, followed by a WHITE-WINGED SCOTER off the beach on 8 Oct.
Herons have mostly gone but there are a few GREAT BLUE HERONS still about as well as a single AMERICAN BITTERN on 10 Oct and a GREAT EGRET on 9 Oct. An adult BALD EAGLE was hunting ducks over Popham Bay on 10 Oct. A single COMMON GALLINULE was reported on 9 Oct as was the first AMERICAN COOT on 10 Oct.
Eight species of shorebirds were reported this week, with almost all on Gull Is. and only occasionally visiting the beach. The high count for BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER was 8 on 10 Oct. Three SEMIPALMATED PLOVER were present on 10 Oct. A trip to Gull Is. on the 10th yielded 2 RUDDY TURNSTONE, 8 SANDERLING, 2 DUNLIN, 1 LEAST SANDPIPER, and the first juv. WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER of fall. Rounding out the shorebirds was a PECTORAL SANDPIPER on 4 Oct. Gulls remain lackluster with lots of HERRING, smaller numbers of RING-BILLED, a few GREAT BLACK-BACKED and a high count of 34 BONAPARTE’S GULL on 10 Oct.
Three species of owls were noted this week. Most unusual was an EASTERN SCREECH OWL calling just north of the Park gate on 9 Oct. While common north of Highway 401, this species is inexplicably rare on the Lake Ontario Plain in this area. A GREAT HORNED OWL was heard calling from the Fingers on 9 Oct and several BARRED OWLS were reported through the week. A lingering RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD with a broken lower mandible remained at a Bayshore Rd feeder through the week. An immature PEREGRINE FALCON was on Gull and High Bluff Is. on 10 Oct. EASTERN PHOEBE was the only flycatcher reported this week. Small numbers of BLUE-HEADED VIREOS were seen, the last being a single on 9 Oct.
A HORNED LARK, possibly the same bird, was reported from both the beach and Gull Is. on 10 Oct. A HOUSE WREN on 4 Oct may turn out to be the last of fall. On the later side of normal was a GRAY CATBIRD was seen on 8 Oct, and a BROWN THRASHER noted on 10 Oct. Nine species of warblers were reported this week: a TENNESSEE on 4 Oct; ORANGE-CROWNED on 4 Oct, and 2 on 6 Oct; NASHVILLE with 2 on 4 Oct and one on 6 Oct; NORTHERN PARULA with two on 4 Oct, 4 on 6 Oct, and one on 8 Oct; a MAGNOLIA on 10 Oct; three BLACK-THROATED BLUE on 4 Oct and one on 9 Oct; a PALM on 10 Oct; YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS through the week in small numbers; and a BLACK-THROATED GREEN on 9 Oct.
A SCARLET TANAGER on 9 Oct is likely the last of the year. RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS and COMMON GRACKLES are roosting in the marsh at dusk and dawn in large numbers. Three RUSTY BLACKBIRDS were noted by the gate on 8 Oct as was a BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD the same day.
Presqu’ile allows waterfowl hunting on Mondays, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and the public is not permitted in hunting areas on those days. The areas affected are the marsh, Calf Pasture Point, Gull and High Bluff Is., and later in the season, Owen Pt. At the present time you may go to the tip of Owen Pt. on a hunting day, but not beyond the sign. Once a blind is placed on Owen Pt. in November, access to Owen Pt. will be closed. The hunt will continue until 21 December.
Directions: Presqu’ile Provincial Park is located on the north shore of Lake Ontario, just south of the town of Brighton. It can be reached from either Hwy. 401, or Cty. Rd. 2 and is well signed. A Park map can be found in the information tabloid available at the Park gate. Presqu’ile’s two offshore islands – Gull and High Bluff – support a large multi-species colonial bird nesting area and access is not permitted during the breeding season (10 March-10 September).