Mid-October birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park is characterized by seeking out late shorebirds and warblers, while encountering a few newly arrived winter birds or species that typically pass through late in the season, such as ducks, gulls, and owls.
The marsh opposite the campground office has been full of dabbling ducks this week, mostly MALLARDS and GREEN-WINGED TEAL but also featuring AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, two WOOD DUCKS, and a drake NORTHERN PINTAIL, all of which can easily be seen from the road. This is also the area where RING-NECKED DUCKS normally show up at this time of year. Far greater numbers of ducks (in the thousands) are off shore in Popham Bay. Most are GREATER SCAUP, but their numbers will soon be challenged by RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, which have begun to show up in the past week.
COMMON GOLDENEYES have also begun to show up, both there and off the lighthouse. WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS are also there but more typically off the day use area, far out in the open lake. A SURF SCOTER was at Salt Point on October 10. A RED-THROATED LOON was near the raft of scaup in Popham Bay on October 10. Good numbers of HORNED GREBES are there every day, and the surprise of the week was an EARED GREBE among them on October 12. A late GREAT EGRET was at High Bluff Island on October 10.
A BALD EAGLE flew over Bayshore Road on October 10, and MERLINS and PEREGRINE FALCONS have been harassing the shorebirds near Owen Point.
While shorebirds have largely departed from other places, the traditional areas at Presqu'ile continue to attract dozens of them, including AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS and exceptionally large numbers of WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS. A LITTLE GULL was off the nature centre on October 12. A COMMON TERN was patrolling the waters off Owen Point and the beach for three consecutive days up to a record-tying late date of October 12. Three BARRED OWLS and a NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL were located on October 12, including one of the former calling late at night at the lighthouse.
A COMMON RAVEN was flying around the lighthouse area, being chased for a while by a small falcon. Almost every day since October 8, huge numbers, probably in the hundreds, of BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES have been migrating around the lighthouse in the early mornings, often so high as to be barely visible. As yet, no BOREAL CHICKADEES have been detected among them. A CAROLINA WREN showed up at 186 Bayshore Road on October 13, almost certainly a different bird from the one that has been at 83 Bayshore Road for months. As recently as October 12, four species of warblers were at the lighthouse, including ORANGE-CROWNED, NASHVILLE, and two NORTHERN PARULAS. On the day before, the same area had a BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER and two late BLACKPOLL WARBLERS. Two EASTERN TOWHEES were on High Bluff Island and one behind 81 Bayshore Road. The minor influx of PURPLE FINCHES last week seems to have petered out, with none being reported for the past several days.
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. Visitors to Gull Island not using a boat should be prepared to wade through shin-deep water in which there is often a swift current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven and slippery. It should also be noted that, because duck hunting is given priority on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Gull Island, High Bluff Island, Owen Point, and part of the calf pasture are not available for bird-watching on those days. 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.