In the first week of post-equinoctial birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, the mix of species has taken on a decidedly fall-like aura.
Insectivorous birds are fewer than before and some typically late-season or winter birds are trickling in.
Although duck hunting has spooked most of the ducks away from the areas where they were previously foraging, there are still plenty of them in the marsh (mostly WOOD DUCKS and GREEN-WINGED TEAL) and far out in Popham Bay (mostly GREATER SCAUP, REDHEADS, and RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS). Among the less common ducks of the past week were NORTHERN PINTAILS, SURF SCOTER, COMMON GOLDENEYES, and HOODED MERGANSER. The EARED GREBE that has been in Popham Bay for three weeks was still there today, along with large numbers of HORNED GREBES and a RED-NECKED GREBE. As well as at least two sightings of AMERICAN BITTERNS in the marsh, as expected, one other, undoubtedly a migrant, was flushed from a roadside yesterday. There was a report of a BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON on September 25.
Raptors were represented by numerous sightings of TURKEY VULTURES, a late OSPREY, two BALD EAGLES, MERLINS, PEREGRINE FALCONS, and assorted others. A few RUFFED GROUSE sightings included one at Owen Point, a rather unusual location. Two SANDHILL CRANES flew past Owen Point on September 25. Shorebirds are still plentiful, with 20 species recorded this week. Several AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS, WHITE-RUMPED, BAIRD'S, and STILT SANDPIPERS, a SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER, a WILSON'S SNIPE, and up to three RED-NECKED PHALAROPES were among the more interesting ones. An unidentified JAEGER was far off shore on September 27. A recent increase in the number of BONAPARTE'S GULLS has birders on the lookout for LITTLE GULLS among them.
A report of a COMMON NIGHTHAWK on September 25, without details, represents a very late date. A RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD is still appearing at the feeders at 83 Bayshore Road. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS are a daily fixture in several parts of the Park. The only flycatchers this week were EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE, LEAST FLYCATCHER, and EASTERN PHOEBE. Several BLUE-HEADED and PHILADELPHIA VIREOS were seen this week. A CAROLINA WREN found on Paxton Drive this morning and a BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER near the lighthouse on Saturday were elements of the southern flavour that occurs at Presqu'ile. A GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH was seen at the lighthouse. Some of the interesting warblers in the Park in the past week were TENNESSEE, ORANGE-CROWNED, YELLOW, and PINE WARBLERS. SCARLET TANAGERS were also seen. One of the three EASTERN TOWHEES found this week was singing persistently with its full spring song at the calf pasture. Several each of FIELD, LINCOLN'S, and SWAMP SPARROWS were not unexpected, but a WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW yesterday, a DARK-EYED JUNCO today, and two LAPLAND LONGSPURS on Tuesday were early indicators of an impending end to summer birding.
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. 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.