The unseasonably warm weather of the past week (warm enough to bring out a few garter snakes, a couple of kayakers yesterday and a canoeist today) has made for pleasant birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, though the results have been rather unproductive, by Presqu'ile standards, as expected in November.
TUNDRA SWANS continue to move through, with several sightings of single individuals and two flocks consisting of 22 and 17 birds on November 18 and 22, respectively. GADWALLS were seen today in two locations and four NORTHERN SHOVELERS were in Popham Bay. There are still a few BLACK SCOTERS there and good numbers of WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS. The anticipated arrival (return?) of a male BARROW'S GOLDENEYE at the lighthouse took place this morning. At least one COMMON LOON and a few PIED-BILLED and HORNED GREBES have been seen in recent days. One or two GREAT BLUE HERONS are seen almost every day. Two BALD EAGLES, an adult and an immature, were spotted this week. Most of the other hawks (NORTHERN HARRIER, SHARP-SHINNED, COOPER'S, a possible NORTHERN GOSHAWK, RED-TAILED, and ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS) were around the offshore islands. A good variety of shorebirds was in the mud along the causeway leading to the Park gate, but around Gull Island they were limited to one WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER and three PURPLE SANDPIPERS, which have not been seen since the weekend. Late November is when the gull population sometimes includes species that are among the latest fall arrivals, such as LITTLE GULL, ICELAND GULL, or GLAUCOUS GULL. Two SNOWY OWLS are regularly perched on the offshore islands, and a third was flying over Owen Point this morning. The two BARRED OWLS seen this week were in non-traditional parts of the Park. One was near the lighthouse on Paxton Drive and the other was, surprisingly, on the virtually treeless Gull Island.
The only NORTHERN SHRIKE of the past week was at Owen Point on November 17. A COMMON RAVEN flew over on that day. For the second consecutive week, a WINTER WREN that was likely still in migration was at the lighthouse, and another was in Jobes' woods. A late YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER was at the lighthouse on November 16. A LAPLAND LONGSPUR accompanied a flock of SNOW BUNTINGS on Gull Island on November 20. A few small PINE GROSBEAK flocks have been seen this week. COMMON REDPOLLS are now the commonest finch at Presqu'ile, following the sudden almost total departure of the masses of PINE SISKINS that were present through much of October and the first half of November. Only small numbers remained up till last weekend, and none that I have heard of since then.
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 able to walk across the gap without special footwear unless a wind change creates a gap of shallow water. 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.