Birders visiting Presqu'ile Provincial Park last weekend, especially on Sunday, were treated to an amazing display of hordes of newly arrived migrant birds, some of which have remained in subsequent days. In addition, several birds have been seen in the Park on dates that are later than expected for those species.
Waterfowl generally build up in October, so a few flocks of BRANT and TUNDRA SWANS can be expected. As yet, however, the composition of the waterfowl assemblages remains largely unchanged except for a few more SURF and WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS and COMMON GOLDENEYES than before. Popham Bay is the place to go to see grebes: dozens of HORNED, a few RED-NECKED, and, still today, a breeding-plumaged EARED GREBE. For most of these a scope is required. A GREEN HERON at the calf pasture on October 6 and a BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON on October 3 were birds not often seen this late. A significant (for Presqu'ile) raptor migration on October 5 was largely to the north of the Park but could be seen from the marsh boardwalk. It included many TURKEY VULTURES, a late OSPREY, a BALD EAGLE, numerous accipiters, a few buteos, and an immature GOLDEN EAGLE. MERLINS and PEREGRINE FALCONS continue to be seen from Owen Point and Gull Island.
A flock of 25 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS was on the beach today. As many as 20 WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS have been among the eleven species that make up the few hundred shorebirds that are still around. Earlier in the week two BAIRD'S SANDPIPERS and a STILT SANDPIPER were at Owen Point and a RED KNOT was on Gull Island . An AMERICAN WOODCOCK was flushed from the Owen Point trail. No CASPIAN TERNS have been seen for the past two days.
A BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO flew over a birder on October 1, almost but not quite a record late date for Presqu'ile. The calf pasture seems to be the most reliable place in the Park to find RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER. A YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER and a YELLOW-THROATED VIREO on October 1 were both late dates, as was a BARN SWALLOW on October 4. A CAROLINA WREN on October 3 and 6 at 186 Bayshore Road was the fourth observation of that species in just over six weeks, apparently representing different individuals each time. Among the many birds that descended on the Park on the weekend were numerous thrushes: GRAY-CHEEKED, SWAINSON'S, HERMIT, and WOOD THRUSHES. Sixteen species of warblers were in the Park in the past week, but by now only a few can be found by scanning the hordes of YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS. Typical of early October, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS are being seen regularly. There was an EASTERN TOWHEE on the weekend. The traditional place to find NELSON'S SPARROWS is on Gull Island, so finding one in the marsh was unusual. It gave the observers an excellent view for a full 30 seconds, which is always a noteworthy event. On Sunday the Park was overrun with WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS, one estimate placing the numbers in the low thousands. There have also been many WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS and DARK-EYED JUNCOES. A LAPLAND LONGSPUR on Gull Island and a RUSTY BLACKBIRD in the marsh were of interest.
PINE SISKINS have appeared in good numbers.
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 knee-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.