The fall bird migration is now in full swing at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, with newly returned species appearing almost every day, and numbers of certain other species diminishing gradually as summer birds disperse.
There has been a steady build-up of MALLARDS at Owen Point, with a few other species of dabbling ducks among them. The most noticeable change has been the appearance of several BLUE-WINGED TEAL. The male WHITE-WINGED SCOTER first reported there last week was seen almost every day since then until August 15. One or two HORNED GREBES have also been there until today. GREAT EGRETS are still being seen daily in small numbers. A GREEN HERON flew around Owen Point yesterday before moving on. BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS have also been there. A TURKEY VULTURE was sharing a meal of dead fish on the beach with an AMERICAN CROW, and two others were on Bald Head beach, which can be seen from the lighthouse with a good scope. A BALD EAGLE sat for much of Tuesday morning in a tree on High Bluff Island. MERLINS are now being seen more regularly, including one that chased away many of the shorebirds at Owen Point. One after another, a dozen fully grown RUFFED GROUSE crossed Paxton Drive at the lighthouse, perhaps a family group.
As is usual at this time of year, shorebirds are the main attraction for birders, and there is excellent habitat from beach 3 to Owen Point, as well as on Gull Island and at Salt Point. Among the nineteen species present this week were a few that are seldom seen at Presqu'ile. The lone BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER that has been seen on most days may soon be joined by the first AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER, a species that generally appears later in the season. A SOLITARY SANDPIPER was on an algae mat at the west end of the High Bluff campground. The highlight of the week was a WILLET, first seen on August 12 and still present on the next day. A WHIMBREL flew over Owen Point on August 14 but did not land. For the past five days there has been a RED KNOT at Owen Point, and two were seen on August 12. Small numbers of WHITE-RUMPED, BAIRD'S, and PECTORAL SANDPIPERS and SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS (four this morning) have been seen on most days. A WILSON'S PHALAROPE was another highlight from Sunday to Tuesday. A BONAPARTE'S GULL at the lighthouse and two GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS on the shores of Popham Bay are worth noting.
Two ROCK PIGEONS flew over Owen Point. A BARRED OWL was heard on August 13. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS are seen daily at 83 Bayshore Road. A YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER at the calf pasture was one of two seen this week. Among other flycatchers were a few OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHERS and an ALDER FLYCATCHER, identified by its call note. PHILADELPHIA VIREO and COMMON RAVEN are two uncommon species seen this week. BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS have also been seen. A VEERY on August 15 was the first of what will soon be an influx of migrant thrushes. Warblers are plentiful these days but difficult to see because of thick foliage and more difficult to identify than in spring. NASHVILLE WARBLER, Ontario's most abundant breeding bird, has not yet been reported. Nineteen species have been reported so far. A WHITE-THROATED SPARROW at the calf pasture on August 14 may be an early migrant. There are still ORCHARD ORIOLES at 83 Bayshore Road .
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. 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.Fred Helleiner