In the lead-up to the annual Monarchs and Migrants weekend taking place at Presqu'ile Provincial Park on September 3-4, both monarchs and migrants have been arriving in good numbers. Some of the latter will be outfitted with attractive aluminum bands on their legs on Saturday and Sunday morning, weather permitting, and will be able to show them off to an admiring public. In addition, monarchs will be wing-tagged at the lighthouse.
There have been several reports of a TRUMPETER SWAN and a MUTE SWAN acting aggressively towards each other at Salt Point. The WOOD DUCK count reached 24 birds in the marsh this morning. Three NORTHERN SHOVELERS were at Owen Point on two consecutive days. Eleven REDHEADS were in Popham Bay on August 26. Twenty-seven PIED-BILLED GREBES were in Presqu'ile Bay this morning. An early HORNED GREBE was near Sebastopol Island on August 26. Two GREEN HERONS were at the calf pasture on that date.
Some interesting raptors seen in the past week were both adult and immature BALD EAGLES, an AMERICAN KESTREL, and on the same day a MERLIN and two PEREGRINE FALCONS. After a relatively slow start to the shorebird season, the numbers reached several hundred on the weekend and the variety has also been good: twenty species. The highlights among them were BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS, GREATER YELLOWLEGS, SOLITARY SANDPIPER, two WHIMBRELS, up to five RED KNOTS, WHITE-RUMPED, BAIRD'S, PECTORAL, and STILT SANDPIPERS, DUNLIN, up to four BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS, and three SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS. An AMERICAN WOODCOCK was also seen. A flock of nine COMMON TERNS flew over Owen Point on August 28. A BARRED OWL at the calf pasture was in an unusual location.
Three COMMON NIGHTHAWKS flew over on August 26. As usual, RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS were at the calf pasture and at 83 Bayshore Road. BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS are being seen here and there. Warblers are appearing in small flocks in various locations (18 species). A BLUE-WINGED WARBLER at 83 Bayshore Road on August 30 was the second of that species in the Park in just over a week. SCARLET TANAGERS should be returning within the next week.
After weeks of finding mostly common birds, visitors to Presqu'ile Provincial Park were rewarded in the past week by the discovery of a number of rarities.
Again this week, a TRUMPETER SWAN has been observed with a MUTE SWAN in the area between Salt Point and the calf pasture. There are still plenty of WOOD DUCKS in the marsh. Other dabbling ducks have been present in large numbers, mostly MALLARDS but including AMERICAN WIGEON, AMERICAN BLACK DUCK, five BLUE-WINGED TEAL, and three NORTHERN SHOVELERS. There have been up to six scaup, probably GREATER SCAUP, in Popham Bay. A real surprise was a female HARLEQUIN DUCK south of Owen Point on the unusual date of September 2. The bird was not seen again after being chased away by a boat. A COMMON MERGANSER was reported at the lighthouse. COMMON LOONS have been flying past Presqu'ile in small numbers. Four species of grebes were in the Park in the past week.
PIED-BILLED GREBES are numerous in the marsh. A HORNED GREBE swam past 186 Bayshore Road on September 4. A RED-NECKED GREBE was off Gull Island on September 3 and another was seen on September 6. The highlight, an EARED GREBE in full breeding plumage, was swimming today between Gull Island and Sebastopol Island, the first of that species at Presqu'ile in almost three years and the fourth September record of the eight previous Park records. Herons and related birds are much less evident than they were all summer. An AMERICAN BITTERN was seen on September 5 and a GREAT EGRET on September 7.
Presqu'ile is not noted for its raptor migration, but some has been in evidence this week, including OSPREYS, BALD EAGLES, NORTHERN HARRIERS, SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS, a COOPER'S HAWK, AMERICAN KESTRELS, and a number of MERLINS and PEREGRINE FALCONS that have been harassing the shorebird flocks around Owen Point. The first two AMERICAN COOTS of the season were reported on September 3.
Shorebirds remain the chief attraction at this time of year, and most of the twenty species have been very co-operative, providing "killer" looks at some rare and uncommon species. An AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER did a fly-past on September 4. Both GREATER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS have been present, though in small numbers. A WHIMBREL landed briefly on Owen Point on September 5 before taking off again. RED KNOTS have been on and around Owen Point every day for over a week, one even showing a lot of the red of the alternate plumage. Both WHITE-RUMPED and BAIRD'S SANDPIPERS can be picked out of the large flocks of "peeps". PECTORAL SANDPIPERS, an early DUNLIN, and a STILT SANDPIPER also added interest.
The highlight for most birders has been the BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER, which, until September 6, was foraging around Owen Point almost continuously, allowing views that were too close for binoculars or cameras. All of the dowitchers identified have been SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS, but LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS, as well as HUDSONIAN GODWITS, occasionally show up later in the season. A COMMON TERN was still present on September 2. A BARRED OWL can often be heard from a birder's cottage at 38 Bayshore Road. Two COMMON NIGHTHAWKS were seen on September 2 and birders have been hoping all week to flush or stumble upon a WHIP-POOR-WILL.
The cottage at 83 Bayshore Road continues to host a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER. The only swallows seen in the past week were a BARN SWALLOW on September 5 and half a dozen CLIFF SWALLOWS on September 7.
BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS were near the lighthouse. A NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD was seen on September 3, and the first AMERICAN PIPIT of the fall on the following day. Warblers have been moving through in good numbers, but only a fraction of them can be identified as they flit through the heavy foliage in the canopy. Two very early ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS were among those identified, as were both PINE and PALM WARBLERS. The highlight of the week, however, was a KENTUCKY WARBLER on the Jobes'
woods trail on September 7, extremely rare at any time at Presqu'ile but especially so in autumn. It could not be re-located today. SCARLET TANAGERS have been seen on three occasions, and EASTERN TOWHEES twice.
It is not too early to be looking for LAPLAND LONGSPURS on the beach, nor too late to be seeing the BALTIMORE ORIOLES that have been frequenting the feeders at 83 Bayshore Road this week.