No mega-rarities from the bird world have been spotted at Presqu'ile Provincial Park during the past week. Nevertheless, a few surprises have been noted, which have made up for the diminishing number of land birds.
A lone BRANT was swimming off Gull Island on October 26, and three species of swan were there in a group two days later: a few MUTE SWANS, two TUNDRA SWANS, and a TRUMPETER SWAN. Four NORTHERN SHOVELERS were in Popham Bay on that day. A NORTHERN PINTAIL was seen on two consecutive days. Up to six SURF SCOTERS have been present in the outer part of Presqu'ile Bay every day. WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS have been here and there on most days, and two female BLACK SCOTERS were off Sebastopol Island on October 28. Viewing conditions on that day helped to spot eight RUDDY DUCKS with a large raft of other ducks in Popham Bay. A MERLIN was seen on two consecutive days. The following shorebirds were still present in the past week: BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS (10 on October 28 and still two today); GREATER YELLOWLEGS (two today); SANDERLING (both Sunday and Tuesday); WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER (two today); PECTORAL SANDPIPER (two still present today); DUNLIN (seven on Tuesday). November is the month when PURPLE SANDPIPERS, a Presqu'ile specialty, are expected to arrive, but a careful search of likely locations on recent days has not yet revealed any. Yesterday was noted as an owl day. A bird that is rare at Presqu'ile, an EASTERN SCREECH-OWL (grey phase), was found by a group of noisy BLUE JAYS and remained for several hours in a neighbourhood yard, where numerous residents and birders could see it and photograph it. Earlier in the day, a birder had found not one but two BARRED OWLS, one of which, in Jobes' Woods, acted as if it might have been a juvenile. Another was spotted last Friday.
Several PILEATED WOODPECKERS have shown up this week. A BLUE-HEADED VIREO and a BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER on October 28 were very late. The only other warbler this week was a YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER, also on that date. Although PURPLE FINCHES that were abundant last week, have mostly moved on, PINE SISKINS remain plentiful. An accurate description was provided of two female EVENING GROSBEAKS on October 25.
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 water that is knee-deep, not taking into account any wave action, 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 on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Gull Island, High Bluff Island, 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