Every passing cold front brings more evidence that the fall bird migration is under way at Presqu'ile Provincial Park. It is impossible to determine the origins of the birds that are showing up where they have been absent all summer, but some are undoubtedly returning from points north. The bird sightings board in the Park has entries concerning rare or uncommon birds that can not be included in the data base kept by the Park without documentation. If the observers read this, please submit details to the Park.
Among the ducks that roost on the shore of Gull Island there have been AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, BLUE-WINGED TEALS, and GREEN-WINGED TEALS this week, all of which have been scarce or absent through most of the summer. A few GADWALLS and REDHEADS are still present. One COMMON MERGANSER has been at Owen Point twice in the past week. GREAT EGRETS and BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS have each outnumbered GREAT BLUE HERONS in the Park for the past two weeks. The five species of hawks seen at Presqu'ile this week are likely more than just a breeding population.
COOPER'S HAWK, AMERICAN KESTREL, and MERLIN have all re-appeared this week.
Ten species of shorebirds were in the Park this week, including a fly-over BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, a dozen SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, a RUDDY TURNSTONE, and the first BAIRD'S SANDPIPER of the year (on beach 3 on August 6). An undocumented report of a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER is not included in that total because of the early date. A GREAT HORNED OWL was seen near the group campground, and a BARRED OWL has called periodically in Newcastle woods.
Visits to the beach and/or the calf pasture at dusk in the next week or two should produce the first migrating COMMON NIGHTHAWKS of the season.
A similar rash prediction last week proved prophetic, when the first OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER of the fall migration appeared a day later, on July 31, fully three weeks earlier than the previous earliest fall arrival date. If it could be documented, the report of a WESTERN KINGBIRD would stand out as the highlight of this week's birding. Many observers have commented on the abundance of PURPLE MARTINS and CEDAR WAXWINGS in various parts of the Park in recent days. What was probably a family group of BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS spent a few days at 83 Bayshore Road, but the ORCHARD ORIOLES at that address seem to have moved on.
The first suggestion of a warbler migration involved a BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER near the lighthouse and two sightings of BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLERS in locations where they have not been seen during the summer.
A PINE WARBLER still singing on July 31 was definitely not a returning migrant. ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS and PURPLE FINCHES are appearing in small numbers.
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.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA