Although the land bird migration at Presqu'ile Provincial Park is slowly winding down, there have been enough other birds of interest to make trips to the Park worthwhile. The coming month is usually a quiet time of year for birding, but it also often produces some exceptional rarities, strays from the far west or from the east coast.
TUNDRA SWANS are due to arrive with the next cold front. Meanwhile, the focus on waterfowl has been on the marsh, where a male EURASIAN WIGEON, one of very few fall records and the only one outside September, was present throughout the day on October 27. Unfortunately, it was not reported today. NORTHERN PINTAILS have been there consistently in small numbers for the past week. October 24 was the day of the loons at Presqu'ile. One count near the lighthouse produced two RED-THROATED and 40 COMMON LOONS. On the following two days, one or two of the former were in Popham Bay and an estimated 60 of the latter were spread out along the waterfront. Hundreds of DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS have suddenly re-appeared. Birders visiting Presqu'ile should be alert to the possibility that a CATTLE EGRET which was on the north side of Presqu'ile Bay yesterday might show up in the Park.
The most recent sighting of the OSPREY that has been frequenting the cove at the calf pasture was on October 27, a rather late date for that species. A BALD EAGLE has also been seen regularly in that area, most recently on October 26. The shorebirds of the past week were represented by seven species, none of them unexpected at this time of year, but as yet none of the soon-to-be-expected PURPLE SANDPIPERS, which are the featured attraction for birders at Presqu'ile every November. LITTLE GULLS were seen in one's and two's for four of the past five days over Popham Bay and off the lighthouse in the late afternoon.
A surprising but frustrating find on October 26 was a hummingbird of unknown species that was glimpsed briefly at 186 Bayshore Road as it flew away. At this late date (three weeks later than any previous record here), it seems unlikely that it was a RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD. Two RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS were seen on the same day. Also fairly late but nowhere near a record are the EASTERN PHOEBES being seen as recently as October 27. A COMMON RAVEN was at the day use area on October 26.
There is no record of CAVE SWALLOW for Presqu'ile, but local birders have been diligently searching for them for the past few days. Perhaps that species will follow the pattern that other swallows exhibit prior to their fall departure, coming in to roost in the marsh at dusk. A CAROLINA WREN has appeared (usually near dusk) on each of the past five days at either 186 or 191 Bayshore Road, probably the same individual that was there two weeks earlier. Five EASTERN BLUEBIRDS were on Paxton Drive today. There was a report of a very late WOOD THRUSH on October 24. For the second time this month, an EASTERN TOWHEE showed up at 191 Bayshore Road. The first AMERICAN TREE SPARROW of the season appeared on October 26, the same date as the first of that species last year.
Both that bird and a FIELD SPARROW on October 24 were on Gull Island.
FOX SPARROWS, up to six at a time, have been frequenting the feeders at 191 Bayshore Road for the past five days, occasionally wandering to the lighthouse and to 186 Bayshore Road. A SWAMP SPARROW was at 83 Bayshore Road. The most recent WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW sighting was on October 25. LAPLAND LONGSPURS were on Gull Island on October 24 and 27. SNOW BUNTINGS, sometimes several dozen, have been there and on the beach.
PURPLE FINCHES are patronizing the feeders at 191 Bayshore Road. PINE SISKINS have been there and elsewhere in the Park, including a flock of about 70. Three EVENING GROSBEAKS were encountered along one of the trails today. Both male and female HOUSE SPARROWS, never common at Presqu'ile, appeared singly at feeders in the past week.
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 shin-deep water 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 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.