From near and far, birders came to Presqu'ile Provincial Park this week in search of one of the long-awaited specialty birds for which the Park is noted in November. Some were more successful than others, but a good variety of birds was available for all to see.
The only unusual swan this week was a TUNDRA SWAN heard flying over in the thick fog. Although the number of dabbling ducks appears to have diminished somewhat, exceptions being GADWALLS and two NORTHERN PINTAILS, diving ducks, especially REDHEADS, are present in huge numbers, one estimate being 4,000 of that species between Popham Bay and Presqu'ile Bay on Sunday and another estimate being 3,800 in Popham Bay alone. A SURF SCOTER, several WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS, and a BLACK SCOTER were among the diving ducks. Nine WILD TURKEYS were again seen on Monday at the calf pasture. On most days a few HORNED GREBES can be seen with the help of a scope. On Tuesday a rather late BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER and 12 DUNLINS were on Gull Island (which was still an island then). On Sunday, a lone PURPLE SANDPIPER was in the north-east corner of Gull Island and two others were on the south shore of the island. They have not been seen since then, despite the best efforts of searchers, but might re-appear for Sunday's field trip of the Ontario Field Ornithologists.. About 500 BONAPARTE'S GULLS were present this morning, a remarkable increase from a couple of dozen on Tuesday. With the first ICELAND GULL of the season showing up at Chatterson Point on Sunday, can GLAUCOUS GULLS or even an IVORY GULL (which once showed up on November 22) be far behind? A LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL flew past the lighthouse on Tuesday.
A ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK was perched on High Bluff Island this morning. A BARRED OWL was near Jobes' woods. A late NORTHERN FLICKER was at the lighthouse this morning. Several PILEATED WOODPECKERS have been seen. This morning a MERLIN sat in a tree on Sebastopol Island and a few minutes later a PEREGRINE FALCON was walking along the shore of that island. On Tuesday on Owen Point, a mixed flock of birds contained about 40 HORNED LARKS, three LAPLAND LONGSPURS, and half a dozen SNOW BUNTINGS, while an AMERICAN PIPIT was on Gull Tombolo. Four EVENING GROSBEAKS paid a brief visit to the feeders at 83 Bayshore Road on Monday, and the next morning at the same location were a CHIPPING SPARROW and a WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW. Most passerines are now found only at feeders, but a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW this morning was an exception.
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 IslandB (now a tombolo) are now able to walk there without special footwear, but under certain conditions such as high winds there may be a few metres of water a few centimetres deep to cross.
It should also be noted that, because duck hunting is given priority on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Owen Point, Gull Tombolo, 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.