The past week has been most rewarding for birders at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, with three rarities in four days, including a first for the Park, and a plethora of not-so-rare-but-still-interesting finds. At least one of those rarities was still around this morning, and the other two may still be somewhere in the Park.
The first person to arrive at Owen Point each morning gets to see a lot of ducks close up. All those who follow must look farther out to see them. Among others, recently seen species include BLUE-WINGED TEAL, NORTHERN SHOVELER, good numbers of GREEN-WINGED TEAL, up to twelve REDHEADS, a male WHITE-WINGED SCOTER, a female LONG-TAILED DUCK, and female HOODED and RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS. Also seen there on two consecutive days (August 7-8) was a record early (by one day) HORNED GREBE in unusual plumage. Most of the GREAT EGRETS have left their nests on High Bluff Island within the last few days but are still being seen here and there. Were it not for an even rarer bird, the bird of the week would be an IBIS of the Plegadis genus (GLOSSY or WHITE-FACED) that was on Gull Island on August 6. For part of the time it was in the same area as the White-faced Ibis that frequented Gull Island at this time last year, but none of the distinguishing features of that species could be seen on this bird because of the distance involved. Several OSPREYS, a NORTHERN HARRIER, a COOPER'S HAWK, and at least one MERLIN may mark the beginning of the hawk migration.
Anyone wanting to see shorebirds at close range and in their natural habitat (i.e., not at sewage lagoons) should visit Presqu'ile in the next few weeks. Thirteen species of shorebirds have been at Owen Point this week, the highlight being a BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER for the past three days. That species is rare in southern Ontario but appears every year at Presqu'ile. Others worth mentioning are BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, and WHITE-RUMPED, BAIRD'S, and PECTORAL SANDPIPERS and GREATER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS. As yet there have not been any WHIMBRELS this fall, but they may be the next to arrive.
The biggest surprise of the week came on the afternoon of August 4, when a RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD, not normally seen east of the Rockies, paid a few quick visits to the hummingbird feeders at 83 Bayshore Road, before being chased away by one of the many RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS, never to be seen again (yet). That was a new record for the Park. Given the abundance of flowers and hummingbird feeders along Bayshore Road, it seems unlikely that this bird has left the peninsula. At the same address there are both adult and juvenile RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS and a juvenile YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER. One has to question the authenticity of an anonymous report of two RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS. Both YELLOW-BELLIED and WILLOW FLYCATCHERS have been seen as well. A BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER was near the lighthouse on August 6. The warbler migration is picking up steam. The numbers are still low, but eleven species have been in the Park this week, including NASHVILLE, CAPE MAY, YELLOW-RUMPED, BLACKBURNIAN, BLACKPOLL, and MOURNING WARBLERS. An ORCHARD ORIOLE was present on August 5.
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.Fred Helleiner