POSTED | August 22, 2013 - Fred Helleiner
Excitement is gradually building up among birders at Presqu'ile Provincial Park as the fall migration gathers steam and as the anniversary approaches of the arrival of a THICK-BILLED KINGBIRD, which attracted hundreds of birders last August.
CANADA GEESE have thinned out considerably but have been replaced by growing numbers, well over 100, of MUTE SWANS, an invasive species the eradication of which is growing increasingly urgent each year. The best place for finding ducks this week is Popham Bay, where nine species have been identified, including BLUE-WINGED TEAL, NORTHERN SHOVELER, and GREATER SCAUP. Only one LEAST BITTERN was spotted in the past week, as well as one BALD EAGLE, but the report of a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK and a GOLDEN EAGLE yesterday, if correctly identified, needs to be supported by a rare bird report, since both of those species remain far to the north of Presqu'ile until well into October. There are no records of either before mid- to late September.
Most of the growing numbers of shorebirds move to and fro between Gull Island, where most can not be identified even with a scope, and the mainland, causing a good deal of frustration when they remain out of sight or too far away. BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS have been regular in small numbers. A SOLITARY SANDPIPER was discovered on August 17, and a GREATER YELLOWLEGS and a RUDDY TURNSTONE on August 18. The high count of BAIRD'S SANDPIPERS this week was six on Sunday. Two DUNLINS on August 20 and three SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS on August 16 were worth noting, as were two LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS on August 18. There were two sightings of AMERICAN WOODCOCKS.
No COMMON NIGHTHAWKS have been reported from the Park this fall, but three CHIMNEY SWIFTS flew over the lighthouse on August 19. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS were still present at 83 Bayshore Road. There were two MERLIN sightings in the past week. Both YELLOW-THROATED and PHILADELPHIA VIREO were seen at 83 Bayshore Road. Small flocks of BLUE JAYS have begun their migratory flights over the lighthouse. BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS were seen on August 17 and 19. A good variety of warblers has descended on Presqu'ile, including a BLUE-WINGED WARBLER at the lighthouse on August 19. The anonymous reports of CONNECTICUT and HOODED WARBLERS must be treated with skepticism unless documentation is provided to the Park by way of rare bird reports. Other warbler species of interest have been OVENBIRD and MOURNING, CAPE MAY, CANADA, and WILSON'S WARBLERS. Two WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS and an INDIGO BUNTING were at 83 Bayshore Road and a PINE SISKIN was at 186 Bayshore Road.
A new book entitledFor the Birds: Recollections and Rambles, by Fred Helleiner, is available from the author (see below) for $20 plus $2.50 for postage. It is also being sold at the Lighthouse Gift Shop in the Park and at Out on a Limb and Lighthouse Books in Brighton. All profits will be donated to the Friends of Presqu'ile's 25th Anniversary Environmental Fund, which sponsors long-term projects like the eradication of invasive species. This message is authorized by the Ontbirds Coordinator.
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 preventdisturbance 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.