There have been some interesting surprises for birders at Presqu'ile Provincial Park this week, at least one of which may indicate the start of the fall migration. At a time of year which is often the doldrums of birding, the past week has been remarkably productive.
The WOOD DUCK concentration in the marsh is up to fifteen birds, best seen by looking west from the camp office viewing stand. The only new ducks in the past week were a pair of male GREEN-WINGED TEAL on Gull Island on June 23, one of which was still there the next day. There has also been a male scaup there and both COMMON and RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS. An AMERICAN and a LEAST BITTERN flew over the marsh boardwalk within minutes of each other. GREAT EGRETS are a daily sighting flying over the Park, as well as on their nests on High Bluff Island. TURKEY VULTURES were feeding on the beach twice this week, four together on one occasion. An OSPREY and a BROAD-WINGED HAWK have been seen at the calf pasture, the latter on June 25, an unusual date for that species at Presqu'ile. A RUFFED GROUSE was out on one of the roadways.
The first apparently migrant shorebirds were three BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS on the beach on June 24. Since that species is normally a later migrant, those partially moulted birds may have been late spring migrants. The DUNLIN at Owen Point on the next day was in full breeding (alternate) plumage, so was also likely not a returning fall migrant.
On the other hand, a SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER at Owen Point yesterday and today may well have been a record early fall migrant. Perhaps a LESSER YELLOWLEGS will be the next to appear. The three AMERICAN WOODCOCKS near the Park store were certainly part of the local breeding population. There were still a few BONAPARTE'S GULLS at Owen Point this past week, including one both yesterday and today. An adult GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL on June 23 was the first in some time.
A BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO was heard at the calf pasture and a cuckoo of unknown species called briefly at Owen Point today. At 9:45 p.m. on June 26, an EASTERN WHIP-POOR-WILL called for a couple of minutes behind one of the Bayshore Road houses, before moving off. That species has not been known to appear at Presqu'ile in the summer for a number of years. A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER was at Owen Point on June 24. An ALDER FLYCATCHER at the calf pasture was the first in several weeks. The BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER nest reported last week is deserted with three cold eggs in it. A CLAY-COLORED SPARROW and a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW were also at the calf pasture. ORCHARD ORIOLES continue to be seen here and there. PINE SISKINS have been visiting the feeders at 83 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. Access to the offshore islands is restricted at this time of year to prevent disturbance to the colonial nesting birds there. 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.