Today's cold front has brought a spate of winter birds, including a couple of rarities, to Presqu'ile Provincial Park. As well, the past week has offered steady birding throughout the Park, albeit not in the numbers of a month earlier, the only exception being the large number of ducks off shore.
Up to five WOOD DUCKS and a few GADWALLS and AMERICAN WIGEONS were among the more interesting dabbling ducks, but the NORTHERN PINTAIL reported last week has not been seen since October 16. Three RING-NECKED DUCKS dropped in on October 17. There are still hundreds of REDHEADS and thousands of GREATER SCAUP in Popham Bay. Both REDHEADS and LESSER SCAUP have been in Presqu'ile Bay near Salt Point. WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS, a few LONG-TAILED DUCKS, and increasing numbers of BUFFLEHEADS and COMMON GOLDENEYES have been off shore recently. Accompanying a flock of BUFFLEHEADS for two days was a female HOODED MERGANSER. COMMON LOONS and HORNED GREBES have been easy to find, and at least one RED-NECKED GREBE was also discovered.
A late OSPREY has been at the calf pasture for the past several days, and a BALD EAGLE has also been in that vicinity. A ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK was fighting the wind over Gull Island this morning, while a PEREGRINE FALCON coasted nearby and landed momentarily on the rocky spit. A MERLIN has been a regular for most of the week in the eastern end of the Park.
Shorebirds have been most plentiful in the traditional areas along the beach, at Owen Point, and on the offshore islands, but this week smaller numbers have been at the lighthouse, at Chatterton Point, and even in the marsh. Within the past week there have been ten species, including AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER, GREATER YELLOWLEGS, RUDDY TURNSTONE, LEAST SANDPIPER, and a few WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS. An adult LITTLE GULL was seen on Sunday. Two COMMON TERNS flying past the lighthouse on October
16 established a new late date for that species at Presqu'ile.
BARRED OWLS were the only members of that family seen this week, but LONG-EARED and SHORT-EARED OWLS can be expected.
Two RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS were in the Park today, one (a female) at the bird sightings board and the other (a probable male) at 191 Bayshore Road. A huge woodpecker spotted by a non-birder was identified by a birder as a PILEATED WOODPECKER, not rare in the Park but not often seen. EASTERN PHOEBES have been seen up to October 19. The first BOREAL CHICKADEE in a number of years was spotted at noon today but could not be re-located. Four EASTERN BLUEBIRDS were at the calf pasture on October 18. HERMIT THRUSHES are still appearing here and there, but a GRAY CATBIRD on October 18 was rather late. The only warblers seen at Presqu'ile in the past week were an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER on October 16, a NORTHERN PARULA on four consecutive days up to November 20, and, of course, numerous YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS. CHIPPING, FOX, and SWAMP SPARROWS were all at Presqu'ile this week. LAPLAND LONGSPURS were on Gull Island on October 17 and 21, and the first SNOW BUNTING of the season was at Owen Point today. PURPLE FINCHES and two flocks of PINE SISKINS have been present this week, but the most surprising winter finch was a male EVENING GROSBEAK near the bird sightings board this morning, a species rarely seen here in recent years.
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 shin-deep water 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, Gull Island, High Bluff Island, Owen Point, 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.