Birds are on the move! A dramatic turnaround occurred at Presqu'ile Provincial Park last weekend as shorebirds and "dickey birds" that had delayed their arrival suddenly began offering treats to birders. Since then, the typical pattern has been to stumble upon a mixed flock of small birds and then encounter no more anywhere nearby.
Again this week a SCAUP accompanied the REDHEADS that frequent the north shore of Gull Island. Each year at this time, frogs abound on the trail near Owen Point, and again this year both AMERICAN BITTERN and GREEN HERON have been flushed from that trail after presumably having been attracted there by the frogs. A BALD EAGLE was seen on August 16, and subsequently a NORTHERN HARRIER was seen and a few SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS were migrating on August 17.
The newly developed algae flats at Owen Point and along the shore north of there have attracted good numbers of shorebirds. Others can be spotted on Gull Island with the help of a spotting scope. Some of the highlights of the past week have been up to four BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS and a similar number of RUDDY TURNSTONES. A RED KNOT was on Gull Island on Sunday and three unbanded birds of that species were at beach 3 this afternoon. A few SANDERLINGS, a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER, and a few BAIRD'S SANDPIPERS have also been present. Although rare, BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS show up every year in late August and may be expected soon. Perhaps the highlight of the shorebird sightings was a RED-NECKED PHALAROPE on Gull Island on August 15.
Two BONAPARTE'S GULLS were on the beach today. A lethargic adult GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL that was present for three days may have succumbed to botulism, as many others of that species have done in previous years. A COMMON NIGHTHAWK was migrating over the lighthouse on August 18. There have been a few MERLIN sightings and one of a PEREGRINE FALCON, both of which commonly patrol the beach in shorebird season.
A YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER was seen on August 17 in a mixed flock of warblers and BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS. The latter have appeared in several locations this week. A COMMON RAVEN, the first since spring, flew over on August 18. The warbler migration began in earnest on the weekend. On August 17 a female GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER appeared outside a birder's kitchen window to begin a day on which someone else saw a "BREWSTER'S" WARBLER at the lighthouse. On the following day a closely related BLUE-WINGED WARBLER was there. Among other warbler species noted this week were NASHVILLE, BAY-BREASTED, and CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLERS, as well as three CANADA WARBLERS at one location.
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.