The discovery of two rare birds a few days ago at nearby Gosport, both of which are still present this afternoon, has attracted birders from near and far, many of whom have also visited Presqu'ile Provincial Park and contributed to a respectable list of bird sightings in the Park this week.
MUTE SWAN numbers are well over 100, and at least one TRUMPETER SWAN has been present for much of the past week. October 26 is the date last year on which a EURASIAN WIGEON showed up and stayed for over a month. Birders should be on the lookout for a repeat performance. A male NORTHERN PINTAIL was in the marsh for one day only. WOOD DUCKS and GREEN-WINGED TEAL are still there in good numbers and the latter are building up along the beach, where they often stay until late in the season. Five RING-NECKED DUCKS appeared on October 24. Among the several thousand GREATER SCAUP in Popham Bay are a number of REDHEADS, visible today because of excellent viewing conditions. In that bay there have been SURF, WHITE-WINGED, and BLACK SCOTERS on at least two days this week, and others are being seen in Presqu'ile Bay. RED-THROATED LOONS showed up yesterday in Popham Bay, one day later than last year, and several, perhaps half a dozen or more, were visible today with spotting scopes, as well as a large number of COMMON LOONS and HORNED GREBES.
A RUFFED GROUSE was eating buds 5-10 metres up in a tree, a normal behaviour in winter, bur less frequently seen in fall. Shorebirds have largely disappeared from Presqu'ile, but a BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER was still present on October 21 and a few SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS were on the beach on October 22 and 24. Yesterday one observer lucked out with two doubles and two singles of GREATER YELLOWLEGS, for a total of six individuals. Unquestionably, the highlight of the week was a rare and very late WILLET that showed off for a handful of birders on October 21 before disappearing. A BAIRD'S SANDPIPER was also seen on that day. Most of the others are SANDERLINGS and DUNLINS, both of which were still present today. A BARRED OWL was found along Paxton Drive. A MERLIN was chasing what may have been AMERICAN PIPITS on the beach.
Three COMMON RAVENS on October 24 was an unusually high number. Small flocks of EASTERN BLUEBIRDS were in the Park on three days this week. A GRAY CATBIRD on October 21 was rather late. Most of the remaining warblers are YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, but there was also a NASHVILLE WARBLER on October 24 and an AMERICAN REDSTART on October 23 and 25. EASTERN TOWHEES, AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS, CHIPPING SPARROWS, FIELD SPARROW, and FOX SPARROWS have all been seen this week. It is not the practice to mention subspecies in these reports unless they are highly distinctive. Thus, the OREGON JUNCO among hundreds of DARK-EYED JUNCOES on October 24 is worth mentioning. Again this week, a LAPLAND LONGSPUR was on Gull Island. The first SNOW BUNTING appeared on October 22, and increasing numbers have been seen since then, reaching about 30 today. A record late INDIGO BUNTING was feeding on the roadside with DARK-EYED JUNCOES on October 24. RUSTY BLACKBIRDS were in the woodpile marsh today. PINE SISKINS continue to dominate the feeders. Small flocks of EVENING GROSBEAKS have appeared on two different days. Several HOUSE SPARROWS visited the feeders at 83 Bayshore Road.
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 able to walk across the gap without special footwear unless a wind change creates a gap of shallow water. 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.