Day by day, birding has been getting better and better at Presqu'ile Provincial Park this week. Another very rare bird appeared briefly but could not be relocated.
Diving ducks are uncommon at Presqu'ile until later in the fall, but 34 REDHEADS and a GREATER SCAUP were seen off Owen Point. Two "huge" WILD TURKEYS were seen today, the first in a number of weeks. For the fourth consecutive week, a BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO was found, indicative of increased birder activity compared to the earlier summer. Three COMMON NIGHTHAWKS flew over on Monday evening and two CHIMNEY SWIFTS flew over today.
Shorebirds have captured most of the attention recently, with sixteen species present and most of them within easy spotting distance along the beach, where there is excellent habitat. Over 200 individuals were present today, constantly coming and going, necessitating repeated visits to ensure that none are missed. Highlights of the week include BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (two today), three RUDDY TURNSTONES today, the first of the season, a RED KNOT this afternoon, four STILT SANDPIPERS this afternoon, an early DUNLIN since Monday, and eight or nine BAIRD'S SANDPIPERS and a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER today. Perhaps the next shorebird to appear will be a RED-NECKED PHALAROPE, which occasionally visits the Park in late August. On August 19, the spotlight shifted away from the shorebirds when a lucky birder spotted not one but two LONG-TAILED JAEGERS over the beach. As noted last week, there is only one previous record of that species at Presqu'ile, and that was on almost precisely the same date in August sixteen years ago.
GREAT EGRETS are still being seen daily, with one observer counting eight birds today and another counting twelve. Two GREEN HERONS flew over on Monday. In addition to single TURKEY VULTURES seen feeding on carcasses on the beach, a number were spotted overhead today perhaps in migration mode. Both yesterday and today, an immature BALD EAGLE was seen overhead. An early BROAD-WINGED HAWK was seen on August 18. An adult RED-HEADED WOODPECKER in Newcastle woods this evening was unusual, but RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS, at one time the rarer of the two species, are being seen fairly regularly. MERLINS are being seen regularly, with one birder seeing two on Friday. A PEREGRINE FALCON over Gull Island on Monday caused momentary panic among the gulls and terns.
This was obviously a flycatcher day, with one observer seeing 30 individuals, including three each of OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER and YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER, as well as a calling ALDER FLYCATCHER and thirteen other Empidonax flycatchers. RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES, variously described as nine or fifteen birds, were seen today, including some whose behaviour suggested a possible "movement", perhaps a precursor to a more extensive flight to come. Single BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS were seen on two different days. Among the 18 warbler species found this week was one that was photographed and has become the subject of debate as to its identity, possibilities being PRAIRIE WARBLER, which would be a rare find, and BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER. The difficulty simply reinforces the notion of "confusing fall warblers", which gained prominence among birders since the appearance of Peterson's early field guide in which the term is used. Two INDIGO BUNTINGS were seen on Sunday.
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.