With new birds returning to Presqu'ile Provincial Park almost every day, it is easy to forget that it is still only July. Unless one is expecting hordes of migrants, birding can be rewarding in the Park even at this early stage of the fall migration. The rarity of the week is causing frustration for birders on more than one count.
Apart from the WOOD DUCKS in the marsh, the only significant congregation of ducks is on the north shore of Gull Island, where eight species were seen in the past week, including up to six GREATER SCAUP.
A surprising total of 14 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS and three COMMON GOLDENEYES were seen on July 23 and 24, respectively. A PIED-BILLED GREBE was escorting three newly fledged young in the woodpile marsh.
Two observers found nine LEAST BITTERNS in the marsh, almost twice as many as anyone had seen at Presqu'ile before. A count of 35 GREAT EGRETS was also a high number. A GREEN HERON was at the calf pasture this morning. For the second week in a row, an IBIS of the /Plegadis/ genus was in the pond on Gull Island, where it stayed for at least four hours on July 24 and allowed pictures and a video to be taken. The two observers are unfamiliar with those birds but have agreed to forward their photographs for a more specific identification. That the bird has not yet been identified as to species is one source of frustration for birders, but more tantalizing is the fact that its haunt is off limits to the general public and the bird is not visible from the adjacent mainland at Owen Point. On a positive note, the fact that what is presumably the same bird was present twice nine days apart gives hope that it may linger there for a few more weeks until access is permitted or that in the meantime it may appear in some other equally suitable habitat at those times when it is not in the "forbidden" place where it has been seen this month.
TURKEY VULTURES are not common at Presqu'ile but have been seen at least twice this week. OSPREY and NORTHERN HARRIER have also been seen.
Since RUFFED GROUSE stopped drumming in May, they have been difficult to find, but one observer found one this week. Nine species of shorebirds have appeared on the beach in the past week, but still in small numbers. Among them were SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, GREATER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS, SANDERLINGS, and BAIRD'S SANDPIPERS. If the water level in Lake Ontario continues to drop as it has in the past fortnight, there will be more algae flats exposed and we can expect to see others such as WHIMBREL, PECTORAL SANDPIPER, or STILT SANDPIPER. Fourteen BONAPARTE'S GULLS were on the beach on July 23. A moderately large flock of ROCK PIGEONS, never common at Presqu'ile, flew over Sebastopol Island today.
A BARRED OWL was heard twice this week.
RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS continue to patronize the feeders at 83 Bayshore Road. WILLOW FLYCATCHERS were calling on July 23 and 24. All the regular species of swallows, including 200 BANK SWALLOWS and some CLIFF SWALLOWS have been among the flocks gathering in the marsh and on the wires. Eleven species of warblers were found in the past week, including some that were obvious migrants, as suggested by where they were in the Park. They included NASHVILLE, NORTHERN PARULA, YELLOW-RUMPED, BLACKBURNIAN, PINE, BLACK-AND-WHITE, OVENBIRD, and NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH. WHITE-THROATED SPARROW and PURPLE FINCH round out this week's sightings of interest.
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.