Although most of the birds seen at Presqu'ile Provincial Park in the past week are to be expected at this time of year, the overall impression has been one of good birding, with the usual Presqu'ile specialties and a few other fairly interesting birds.
Along the eastern shore of High Bluff Island, visible from Gull Island, a large gathering of dabbling ducks was present this morning, including about 80 each of GADWALLS and AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, plus 32 AMERICAN WIGEONS and a male EURASIAN WIGEON, perhaps the same individual that had disappeared over a week ago from the marsh. Since there is often a congregation of dabbling ducks there throughout the winter, there is the possibility that the rarer of the two wigeons will remain for the Christmas Bird Count on December 19 and thus add to the all-time list of species recorded on that count (unless in the meantime it is spooked or worse by the waterfowl hunters). For two days this week, NORTHERN SHOVELERS (one or two) and NORTHERN PINTAILS, up to six at a time, were in the marsh. A small flock of BLACK SCOTERS (nine on Tuesday and six today) can be spotted with the help of a scope far out in Popham Bay.
The only loon reported this week was a COMMON LOON, apparently ill, sitting on the beach and being harassed by two (unleashed) dogs. A HORNED GREBE was off Gull Island this morning. A DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT on November 15 and a GREAT BLUE HERON on November 17 were the only ones of those species reported for over ten days.
A NORTHERN HARRIER and a ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK were seen over Gull Island.
On November 14, a PEREGRINE FALCON was seen twice, once over the marsh and once over Gull Island, having first been spotted perched on High Bluff Island. At this time of year, one might anticipate seeing a GYRFALCON in that part of the Park, though the likelihood is slim. Two WILD TURKEYS continue to dodge traffic on Bayshore Road and have also taken to scrounging under a bird feeder at 83 Bayshore Road when they can find their way under the surrounding deer fence. The first significant gathering of AMERICAN COOTS of the season, about fifty, was in the marsh off 36 Bayshore Road today. An exceptionally keen eleven-year-old found and correctly identified, albeit with an appropriate caveat about his uncertainty, a pair of GREATER YELLOWLEGS in the cove at Salt Point. These late-lingering migrants were still there three days later, and one was still there on November 17. Each day this week on which access was permitted to Gull Island, birders were out there searching for shorebirds, particularly the rare PURPLE SANDPIPERS which regularly appear there in November. What they found on those three days respectively were 2, 1, and 2 WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS, 1, 0, and 0 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS (quite late), 0, 1, and 2 PURPLE SANDPIPERS, and ~60, ~70, and 56 DUNLINS. Single BARRED OWLS were seen in the woods on two different days.
RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS are now known to be present at Presqu'ile throughout the year, as are PILEATED WOODPECKERS, but only a few sightings of the former and one of the latter were reported this week.
A COMMON RAVEN was at the calf pasture today. Birders at 186 and 191 Bayshore Road report sporadic sightings of a CAROLINA WREN at their feeders. While those at 186 Bayshore were lunching the other day, the wren entertained them at a feeder just outside their window for a few minutes, followed moments later by a WINTER WREN. According to the literature consulted, having that species visit a feeder appears to be unprecedented. Two of that species were at the nearby lighthouse on that same day. There were still six AMERICAN PIPITS on Gull Island today. A FOX SPARROW on November 15 and a SWAMP SPARROW on November 13 were at 191 Bayshore Road. Two WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS and a dozen or more SNOW BUNTINGS were on Gull Island today. Two BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS were at 83 Bayshore Road. On November 18, a female WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL accompanied the AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES on the feeders at 186 Bayshore Road. PINE SISKINS are also in those flocks 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. Visitors to Gull Island not using a boat should be prepared to wade through ankle-deep water (deeper when there are waves) 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.