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Birding Report

As usual when there are lots of visiting birders, there is lots to report from Presqu'ile Provincial Park. Two events in the coming week will be of interest to birders. The summer restriction on access to the offshore islands will be lifted on September 11. The annual outing of the Ontario Field Ornithologists will take place on September 12 (see note at the end of this report).

Among the ducks gathering in Popham Bay this week are up to eight AMERICAN WIGEONS, eight REDHEADS, and about 20 scaup. Both AMERICAN BITTERN and BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON have been at the calf pasture. Although many have been seen leaving the province recently, OSPREYS are still being seen on most days. A BROAD-WINGED HAWK was seen on September 7. A number of hawks migrated over the Park on September 9, including SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS, AMERICAN KESTRELS, and MERLINS. An immature GOLDEN EAGLE was reported on September 6, weeks earlier than any previous record in the Park. A RUFFED GROUSE killed itself after apparently flying into a window at the lighthouse interpretive centre. A WILD TURKEY may suffer a similar fate if it doesn't stop trying to outrun cars.

Shorebirds and /larids /have been the centre of attention this month, and especially last weekend. The first AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS of the season have begun showing up. Up to eight WHIMBRELS have been on and around Gull Island since September 6, with six still present today. Three RED KNOTS have been lingering at the tip of Owen Point. A WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER was present on two different days. BAIRD'S SANDPIPERS are also present every day. The first DUNLIN of the season appeared on September 6, along with a STILT SANDPIPER. Most of the above species are fairly routine for Presqu'ile, but there have been several others that are not. A LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER was identified on September 7, and may still be on Gull Island when birders make their way out there on Saturday. AMERICAN WOODCOCKS are present all summer, but one at the lighthouse on September 8 was obviously a migrant. A cottager out kayaking off Salt Point on September 7 spotted a bird which he realized was different. Looking it up after he got home, he correctly identified it as a RED-NECKED PHALAROPE, as confirmed on the following day by a number of birders who rushed to see it, the only one of the year at Presqu'ile. It gets better. A POMARINE JAEGER and a PARASITIC JAEGER were both found on September 5. A rare bird report for the former is on file in the Park office, and pictures were taken of the latter as it sat on the beach. Finally, an adult SABINE'S GULL was observed at the lighthouse on September 4.

A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER was seen on September 3 and 6, and a rather late EASTERN KINGBIRD on September 4. BLUE-HEADED VIREOS, usually the first of that family to arrive in spring and the last to arrive in fall, have begun appearing in small numbers. The most recent PHILADELPHIA VIREO was seen on September 7. The COMMON RAVEN found on September 5 and 9 was the first in several weeks. CLIFF SWALLOWS and a BANK SWALLOW were among other swallows in the lighthouse area on September 4 and 6. A CAROLINA WREN has put in several appearances this week. It is time for a GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH to do the same. Among many other warblers, the highlight was a GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER seen on September 5. PALM WARBLERS, among the later warblers to arrive, have been seen at least twice in the past few days. A MOURNING WARBLER was at the lighthouse on September 3, a day when a SCARLET TANAGER was also seen. A LINCOLN'S SPARROW was seen on September 6.

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 until after September 10 to prevent disturbance to the colonial nesting birds there. It is not clear yet how deep the channel is between Owen Point and Gull Island. Visitors to Gull Island not using a boat should be prepared to wade through water of uncertain depth in which there is often a swift current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven and slippery. Birders are encouraged to record their observations on the bird sightings board provided by The Friends of Presqu'ile Park and to fill out a rare bird report for species not listed there.

For those planning to come to the great OFO trip at Presqu'ile on September 12th the daily park pass is $10.75 and correct change is needed if you don't want to get slowed up at the gate. There will NOT be an attendant present until later in the day. This is a reduced rate starting September 7th after the long weekend.

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Fred Helleiner