Between the end of last week and the middle of this week there has been a noticeable change in the composition of the bird life at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, though the overall numbers of birds have not diminished.
On Sunday, the first two TRUMPETER SWANS of the season were off the camp office viewing platform. They have not been seen since but are quite likely still somewhere in Presqu'ile Bay. A count of 30 GADWALLS on October 21 was the highest in some time. SURF and WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS are being seen regularly. Two GREAT EGRETS were present on October 18, a rather late date. A BALD EAGLE flew near the lighthouse on October 20 but the hawk migration on the previous day was exceptional for Presqu'ile and included 85 TURKEY VULTURES and two RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS. Since a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK was just outside the Park this morning, there may be others appearing soon. PEREGRINE FALCONS were seen on three of the past six days, including two that were doing aerial manouevers together. Only a handful of shorebirds can still be found (not one was reported today), but a few days ago there were several interesting sightings: an AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER on October 21; a HUDSONIAN GODWIT on October 18; an unconfirmed report of a RED KNOT on October 17; A WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER and a WILSON'S SNIPE on October 19. This afternoon an adult LITTLE GULL was with hundreds of BONAPARTE'S GULLS feeding with an equal number of RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS near the lighthouse.
A BARRED OWL was flushed in Newcastle Woods. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS are likely in the Park all year, but the one near the lighthouse this week was the first in that area for several months. Four COMMON RAVENS were seen on one day. Twelve HORNED LARKS in the Owen Point/Gull Island area were not as surprising as the one in the middle of Bayshore Road. There were EASTERN BLUEBIRDS on two different days. One of Presqu'ile's three records of TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE, a bird that stayed for several days, was in the last week of October thirteen years ago. AMERICAN PIPITS and LAPLAND LONGSPURS have been on Gull Island. In the unwelcome news department, the first two SNOW BUNTINGS appeared on Tuesday, and eight were at Owen Point today. Among warblers, the following were seen in the past week: ORANGE-CROWNED (twice), NASHVILLE, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, PALM, YELLOW-RUMPED, BLACK-THROATED GREEN. An EASTERN TOWHEE was seen on October 18. The first AMERICAN TREE SPARROW of the fall was on Gull Island on October 19. FIELD and FOX SPARROWS were also of interest. PURPLE FINCHES and PINE SISKINS have been abundant at feeders on 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 prepared to wade through water that is knee-deep, not taking into account any wave action, 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 on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Gull Island, High Bluff Island, 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