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Birding Report

Despite the current heat wave, there have been obvious signs of fall migration at Presqu'ile Provincial Park in the past week, not only among shorebirds (which typically begin arriving in July), but also among land birds that nested further north.

Most of the interesting ducks that have been summering on Gull Island have moved on or gone into hiding, but both COMMON and RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS have been in that area this week. The count of PIED-BILLED GREBES in the inner part of Presqu'ile Bay has reached 24 birds this morning. GREAT EGRETS continue to be the most frequently observed members of the heron family. OSPREYS are appearing almost every day over Presqu'ile Bay or perched at the calf pasture, and both COOPER'S and RED-TAILED HAWKS have also been seen. The shorebird migration has improved somewhat, with ten species seen this week. Even though the numbers are not yet what can be expected later in the month, seeing them at close range in their natural habitat is more appealing than holding one's nose with one hand while focusing a scope or binoculars with the other hand at one's favourite sewage lagoon. A BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, the first of the season, flew past Gull Island on July 31. Also on that day, a WHIMBREL was first noticed at the extreme north end of the natural beach but difficult to see as it stayed mainly in the vegetation. It was seen again yesterday and today from lookout #1 on the Owen Point trail. A RUDDY TURNSTONE has been loitering for five days at the gravel tip of Owen Point. A WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER was among the other "peeps" at Owen Point on the rather early date of August 2. Small numbers of both adult and immature BONAPARTE'S GULLS have appeared in several places in the Park in the past week.

In addition to some rather uncommon land birds that have been around all summer and are still present (CAROLINA WREN, BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER, AMERICAN REDSTART, FIELD SPARROW, ORCHARD ORIOLE, among others), there are a few others that may or may not have been summering in the Park but which have appeared recently: LEAST FLYCATCHER, BROWN THRASHER, TENNESSEE WARBLER, NASHVILLE WARBLER, CAPE MAY WARBLER (five at one location today!), OVENBIRD, EASTERN TOWHEE, ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK. No doubt there will be more soon, especially since a cool front is expected tomorrow.

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.

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Fred Helleiner