The Ontario Field Ornithologists' (OFO) outing to Presqu'ile Provincial Park was a great success. At least two other naturalists' clubs visited the Park on the weekend to enjoy the delights of birding.
MUTE SWANS are beginning to gather in Presqu'ile Bay, where hundreds winter, with 140 individuals being counted today, largely from one vantage point. Many more may have been hidden. Even though the waterfowl hunt in the Park is only nine days away, there has not yet been much of a build-up of ducks, perhaps because of the continung warm weather. Among the few that have been present in the past week were two NORTHERN SHOVELERS, several REDHEADS, a reported LESSER SCAUP in an unusual location (Popham Bay), and a HOODED MERGANSER. Two RED-NECKED GREBES were in Popham Bay on September 12 and two HORNED GREBES on the following day. One of the latter was off beach 1 on September 16.
Two AMERICAN BITTERNS were stalking the shore of Gull Island while the OFO trip participants watched from the mainland. OSPREYS were seen on two different dates and a BALD EAGLE on September 16. In addition to the BROAD-WINGED HAWKS noted in last week's report, another was over the Park on September 13.
During the past week, sixteen species of shorebirds were feeding and resting on the beaches and on Gull and Sebastopol Islands, flying to and fro among those places, and dodging MERLINS. Highlights were AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS, GREATER YELLOWLEGS, WHIMBRELS, RUDDY TURNSTONES, WHITE-RUMPED, BAIRD'S, and STILT SANDPIPERS, and a single LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER that was not reported after September 13. A RED-NECKED PHALAROPE sighting just over a week ago, on September 9, was drawn to my attention, along with that of a PARASITIC JAEGER on the same date, after last week's report went out.
Two ROCK PIGEONS flew past the lighthouse and another, apparently a racing pigeon, spent a few days on the shore of Gull Island. BARRED OWLS were heard in two different parts of the Park. The latest COMMON NIGHTHAWK sighting was a group of eight on September 14. A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER continues to visit the feeders at 83 Bayshore Road, as did a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER for the past three days.
Most flycatchers have already left, but reports were received of a LEAST FLYCATCHER on September 13 and of ALDER and GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHERS on the following day. An EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE was still present on September 15. This is also the time of year when stray flycatchers from the west and south-west occasionally appear, like the WESTERN KINGBIRD that was in nearby Prince Edward County this week and might make its way to Presqu'ile, or the SULPHUR-BELLIED FLYCATCHER that came to the Park in late September one year.
There have been several sightings of BLUE-HEADED and PHILADELPHIA VIREOS this week and one of a WARBLING VIREO. Warblers are not as plentiful as they were, and the appearance of ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS and increasing numbers of YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS indicates that the warbler migration is drawing slowly to a close. A few SCARLET TANAGERS seen this week are also likely the last of those until next May.
On the other hand, the sparrow migration is just getting under way. The vanguard of WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS has appeared, and keen birders will soon be searching Gull Island for the newly re-named NELSON'S SPARROWS as well as LAPLAND LONGSPURS.
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 knee-deep water in which there is often a swift current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven and slippery. 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.