A few uncommon birds have been among the many species that have made Presqu'ile Provincial Park an interesting birding destination in the past week.
The maximum fall count of BRANT (400 birds) was on this date in 1985. Again this week, three species of swans have appeared in the Park: MUTE SWANS, TRUMPETER SWANS, and TUNDRA SWANS. As wintering ducks begin to return, the variety of ducks (21 species) keeps growing. Some of the highlights include up to 23 WOOD DUCKS, up to 35 GADWALLS, reports of ten BLUE-WINGED TEAL and six NORTHERN SHOVELERS, two NORTHERN PINTAILS, well over 100 GREEN-WINGED TEAL on most days (though only five could be found in the rain today), up to 12 RING-NECKED DUCKS, two SURF SCOTERS, two BLACK SCOTERS, three LONG-TAILED DUCKS, two BUFFLEHEADS, and two COMMON GOLDENEYES. The time is ripe for a EURASIAN WIGEON to join the others. The carcass of a RING-NECKED PHEASANT was washed up on the beach.
Cuckoos, especially YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOOS, are never common at Presqu'ile, but that species exhibits a peculiar pattern of occasionally showing up in late autumn, as was the case on October 18 of this year. A late immature COMMON GALLINULE just outside the Park entrance on October 14 was of interest. Among ten shorebird species seen in the past week, an AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER, a RED KNOT, and an AMERICAN WOODCOCK were of particular interest, but the most noteworthy were a PURPLE SANDPIPER reported without any details on October 17 (a very early date) and a LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER seen by numerous individuals on October 16. Two dowitchers seen on the previous day may also have been of that species. Another bird reported without any details was a NORTHERN GOSHAWK on October 14. Two MERLINS were seen on October 18, including one that was dive-bombing a PEREGRINE FALCON that appeared to be at least twice its size.
PILEATED WOODPECKERS and COMMON RAVENS continue to be seen regularly. A HORNED LARK was seen on Tuesday, and for the third time in recent weeks a CAROLINA WREN was found on two different days. A PURPLE FINCH visited a feeder briefly on Tuesday. Other than YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, which are still around in reduced numbers, the only other warblers were COMMON YELLOWTHROAT and PALM WARBLER, of which two were in the Gull Island/Owen Point area on Tuesday. The first AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS of the season were found on October 16 and 17. On the following day a SAVANNAH SPARROW was on Gull Island.
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 ankle-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 given priority on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Owen Point, 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.