The days leading up to this weekend's Monarchs and Migrants festival at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, which includes bird banding demonstrations (weather permitting), have been the most exciting in years for the local birding community as a result of the discovery of a mega-rarity on August 28. Hundreds of birders from all over Ontario and far beyond have converged on the Park in search of this bird, and have no doubt contributed to the solvency of the Park's finances, as well as that of local businesses. In a local version of what birders call the Patagonia picnic table effect, the presence of so many birders has led to a spate of other good bird finds, all of which seem anti-climactic after the star bird, which some have called the bird of the year. Only a few of those will be mentioned here.
Twice in the past week, a TRUMPETER SWAN was seen at the lighthouse. Other waterfowl of interest include two NORTHERN SHOVELERS, three GREATER SCAUP, two BUFFLEHEADS, and a COMMON GOLDENEYE. Three HORNED GREBES were in Popham Bay. Two GREEN HERONS were seen. Shorebirds were plentiful until August 28, but their numbers have dropped off sharply since then, perhaps in part because of harassment by falcons. Among the more interesting species were RUDDY TURNSTONE, WHITE-RUMPED, BAIRD'S, PECTORAL, and BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS, the latter seen only briefly at noon today.
There were three BARRED OWL observations in the past week. Other raptors include OSPREYS, SHARP-SHINNED and COOPER'S HAWKS, a possible BROAD-WINGED HAWK, MERLINS, and a PEREGRINE FALCON. The first COMMON NIGHTHAWK of the season was seen on August 28. There was an unconfirmed report of a RED-HEADED WOODPECKER. OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHERS were seen on three different days, and a YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER was also seen. Unquestionably, the highlight for the hundreds of birders who visited Presqu'ile this week was a THICK-BILLED KINGBIRD, only the second ever seen in Canada, the first being on Vancouver Island in 1974. The nearest that that Mexican species had previously been seen was in Colorado. As of this evening, it was still present at the calf pasture, where it was first discovered on August 28. PHILADELPHIA VIREO, BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER, and AMERICAN PIPIT were other species found by the visiting birders. A good variety of warblers has been present all week, including the first PALM WARBLERS of the season. SCARLET TANAGERS, ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS, and ORCHARD ORIOLE were all seen in the past week. For the second consecutive week, a flock of RED CROSSBILLS was seen.
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.