This has been an exciting week for birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, as the fall migration ramps up and more and more birders are showing up. Since tomorrow (July 21) is Healthy Parks Healthy People day in Ontario Parks, there will be free admission to Presqu'ile and perhaps even more birders will take advantage of that.
What appears from a distant photograph to have been a NORTHERN PINTAIL was among the other dabbling ducks on the beach. There was an incredible report of a COMMON EIDER, with no details offered except the location. As this species is very rare in southern Ontario and virtually unknown in summer, this report begs for documentation in the form of a rare bird report to the Park. At least two BLACK-BILLED CUCKOOS have been sighted this week. Shorebirds have been foraging all week in the algae at the end of the beach 3 access road. Among the eleven non-resident species present in the past week were two that are of particular interest. Two STILT SANDPIPERS showed up on Monday morning and were still present yesterday morning. At the same time and place were two WILSON'S PHALAROPES. Others that had not been seen since the spring were a SEMIPALMATED PLOVER, two SANDERLINGS, and two PECTORAL SANDPIPERS. Almost all of the AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN records for Presqu'ile Park have been in late July or August, so birders should be aware of the possibility that history will repeat itself. The number of GREAT EGRETS that can be seen on their High Bluff Island nests from the mainland varies daily, but on two occasions this week 12 and 14 were counted. A GREEN HERON was feeding on the flooded lawn of the day use area. On another flooded area, a BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON was sitting on one of the Park roads.
An intriguing sighting was that of a RED-SHOULDERED HAWK flying over the Park on July 16, a species that is not known to nest anywhere near the Park and should not yet be in migration mode. The earliest previous fall record was on August 6, 2002. There were two RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER sightings this week, and one of a MERLIN. Other resident birds that are not often detected were also observed this week: WILLOW FLYCATCHER; three BROWN CREEPERS together; WINTER WREN (twice); GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET (twice); OVENBIRD. NORTHERN WATERTHRUSHES are also resident in the Park, but the sighting of three at the lighthouse and two at the calf pasture on July 16 may represent newly arrived migrants rather than individuals that have dispersed from nearby breeding locations. Surprisingly, a northern breeder and almost certainly a migrant, a NORTHERN PARULA, was seen on July 13 and heard again a few days later, eclipsing by two weeks the previous early date. Two family groups of ORCHARD ORIOLES at the calf pasture on July 16 contained a total of nine individuals.
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.