The customary mid-November lull in birding activity at Presqu'ile Provincial Park has set in, but, as is also customary, there are rare species that do show up in November. The past week has been no exception.
A small goose, possibly a CACKLING GOOSE, was at the calf pasture yesterday, along with four TUNDRA SWANS. Another four of the latter were at the camp office viewing platform this morning. Every day this month the male EURASIAN WIGEON has been visible from that location, though sometimes swimming out of sight. WOOD DUCKS and NORTHERN PINTAILS have also been there. This is the time of year when HARLEQUIN DUCKS occasionally show up. There have been a few BLACK SCOTERS off Sebastopol Island this week. Loons and grebes have been much less plentiful this week than last, but the EARED GREBE north of Gull Island was seen on November 6 and 8. DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS are reduced to single-digit observations.
A few hawks have been migrating past Presqu'ile, including the first ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS of the season and both MERLINS and PEREGRINE FALCONS. If a GYRFALCON appeared this month, it would not be totally unheard of. Three RUFFED GROUSE followed each other across a Park road busy with cars heading to Christmas at Presqu'ile. Among the lingering shorebirds were an AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER, a SEMIPALMATED PLOVER, two RUDDY TURNSTONES, and a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER, all on November 6. On the other hand, the PURPLE SANDPIPER that was on Gull Island on November
8 was the first of what will likely be several more of this typically late-migrating shorebird. A LITTLE GULL was at Owen Point on November 8. The rarest gull of the season was a BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE that flew over Owen Point on November 6. Only two owl species were found this week, a BARRED OWL seen twice in broad daylight and a SHORT-EARED OWL that was watched and photographed as it dodged the birders who were out on Gull Island on Sunday and they in turn were dodging it.
So much for the bigger birds, which have been outnumbering the "dickey birds" all week. A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER continues to patronize the feeders at 83 Bayshore Road. A NORTHERN SHRIKE was in that area late last week. Two HORNED LARKS were on Gull Island on Sunday. The elusive CAROLINA WREN at 83 Bayshore Road can be found, it seems, only by spending days at a time there and waiting for it to vocalize. A late RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET was at the camp office viewing platform on November 6. A small flock of EASTERN BLUEBIRDS and a HERMIT THRUSH were on Paxton Drive on November 4. AMERICAN PIPITS continue to frequent Gull Island and one was in the picnic area on November 5. A late YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER was at the lighthouse on November 8. An EASTERN TOWHEE and a FIELD SPARROW were still in the Park on November 6, and at least two SWAMP SPARROWS were at Owen Point two days later. SNOW BUNTINGS have been seen regularly along the beach. A PURPLE FINCH, two fly-over WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS, and a number of PINE SISKINS were the most interesting finches of the past week, after a period when almost none were around.
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.