Presqu'ile Provincial Park continues to be the preferred destination for birders seeking shorebirds and a variety of other birds. For the second week in a row, several rarities were located.
A white morph and a blue morph SNOW GOOSE were with the CANADA GEESE on the beach on September 16. The male WOOD DUCKS that are constantly in the marsh have moulted out of their eclipse plumage and now are sporting their brand new feathers, which please so many observers. A few other dabbling ducks are also in the marsh, but the majority are in Popham Bay, where they will remain until Saturday, when the waterfowl hunt opens. Meanwhile, there have been GADWALLS, AMERICAN WIGEONS, AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, MALLARDS, BLUE-WINGED TEAL, PINTAILS, and GREEN-WINGED TEAL. Further out in the bay is a raft of REDHEADS and GREATER SCAUP.
The best find of the week was a pair of female COMMON EIDERS off Gull Island on September 21 that could not be re-located today. Other ducks of interest were a pair of COMMON GOLDENEYES and six HOODED MERGANSERS.
Even farther out in the bay, 37 HORNED GREBES were counted today, and among them was the EARED GREBE that had been present for a few days over a week ago. A GREAT EGRET was in the marsh on September 19.
A rather late OSPREY was over Presqu'ile Bay on September 18. MERLINS are being seen at the rate of one a day, but only one PEREGRINE FALCON was seen in the past week and none since Friday.. Two RUFFED GROUSE were near the lighthouse on September 18. A VIRGINIA RAIL was seen in the Owen Point marsh. COMMON GALLINULES (formerly regarded as conspecific with the COMMON MOORHEN of Eurasia) can regularly be seen from the new viewing platform opposite the campground office.
Shorebirds have been the main attraction this week, with at least 18 species in the Owen Point area. The majority now are SANDERLINGS, but among the others there have been several AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS, a RED KNOT, and WHITE-RUMPED, BAIRD'S, PECTORAL, and STILT SANDPIPERS. An unconfirmed report of a WESTERN SANDPIPER was also noted. Best of all, a late RED-NECKED PHALAROPE was present for a day and a half, after local birders had almost written off their chances of seeing that species this year. Although equally rare, a PARASITIC JAEGER seen this morning is closer to the expected time of passage through this area.
Striking photographs were taken on September 13 of an immature jaeger being attacked by an adult BALD EAGLE just outside the park at the north end of Popham Bay. Almost all of the CASPIAN TERNS have now departed.
Despite the late date, a few RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS are still around. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS continue to be seen. The first YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER of the fall appeared on September 16. Among the few remaining flycatchers, an OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER on September 18 and a GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER on September 16 were both rather late.
However, late September is when rare western flycatchers occasionally appear in Ontario, as exemplified by the SULPHUR-BELLIED FLYCATCHER that spent a few days at Presqu'ile 25 years ago. A YELLOW-THROATED VIREO was at the lighthouse on September 18. The first HORNED LARK of the season was on Gull Island yesterday and today. A MARSH WREN, obviously a migrant, was attempting to sing on Gull Island on September 17.
AMERICAN PIPITS have been there all week. Warblers are still moving through in smaller numbers, including a PINE WARBLER and an OVENBIRD, but the next few days should see an influx of YELLOW-RUMPED and ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS, as well as large numbers of sparrows.
NELSON'S SPARROWS will be sought on Gull Island, where they and other sparrows lurk in the dense vegetation in late September. A SAVANNAH SPARROW there this week was a precursor to the hordes that will soon be there. The first LAPLAND LONGSPUR of the season was there this morning.
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 knee-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 after tomorrow, i.e., beginning on September 24. 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.