Plenty of rare or uncommon birds have appeared at Presqu'ile Provincial Park in the past week, and the influx of many birders has helped to find them. Only the highlights can be mentioned here.
The arrival of many ducks signals the beginning of the fall waterfowl migration. Among others, there have been 25 AMERICAN WIGEONS, a NORTHERN SHOVELER, 20 GREATER SCAUP, 10 LESSER SCAUP, 2 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS, a BLACK SCOTER, 2 LONG-TAILED DUCKS, a BUFFLEHEAD, 3 COMMON GOLDENEYES, and 2 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS. As yet no HORNED or RED-NECKED GREBES have been reported. LEAST BITTERNS were sighted on two different days. Hawks of several species have been moving through, including one or two BALD EAGLES, a BROAD-WINGED HAWK, and a PEREGRINE FALCON. Seen most regularly, however, have been MERLINS, both at the beach and elsewhere. Three COMMON GALLINULES were in the marsh on September 6.
The big attraction of the past week has been the variety of shorebirds, and the ease with which they can be observed at close range. Most observers have been able to find at least eight species, including BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS in several plumages and a few BAIRD'S SANDPIPERS. Less frequent sightings have included GREATER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS, at least two different WESTERN SANDPIPERS, WHITE-RUMPED and PECTORAL SANDPIPERS, DUNLIN, and SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS. Singles of SOLITARY SANDPIPER (nicely photographed), RED KNOT, STILT SANDPIPER, BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER, AMERICAN WOODCOCK, and RED-NECKED PHALAROPE round out the tally. A few CASPIAN TERNS are still hanging around, and a late COMMON TERN was seen on September 8. Jaegers are seen only once or twice a year at Presqu'ile, and many of those notoriously difficult birds have to be written off as unidentified as to species, especially since the experience of most Ontario birders is limited to fewer than a dozen of those. Hence the reported sighting of a very rare POMARINE JAEGER on September 7 by two lucky birders constitutes the highlight of the week. This is also the time of year when PARASITIC JAEGERS might show up.
BARRED OWLS continue to be heard in Newcastle Woods by those who live nearby. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS have been seen at 83 Bayshore Road and at the calf pasture. A YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER was at the lighthouse on September 7. A late EASTERN KINGBIRD was found on September 6, and three TREE SWALLOWS on September 8. Six MARSH WRENS on September 6 were more than are usually seen at this time of year. An EASTERN BLUEBIRD was at the lighthouse on September 8. An AMERICAN PIPIT on September 6 was the first of the season. A good variety of warblers has included MOURNING and CAPE MAY WARBLERS, NORTHERN PARULA, and CANADA WARBLER. The sparrow migration is still a few weeks from reaching a peak, but sightings this week of a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW and DARK-EYED JUNCO may be fore-runners.
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 water of unknown depth (not allowing for waves) in which there is often a swift current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven and slippery. 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.