As the fall bird migration continues to make Presqu'ile Provincial Park a birders' destination, uncommon species keep showing up.
An early morning flight of over 200 dabbling ducks today included some surprising numbers: 7 AMERICAN WIGEONS, 4 BLUE-WINGED TEAL, 2 NORTHERN SHOVELERS, 14 GREEN-WINGED TEAL. A nervous NORTHERN PINTAIL was flushed from the beach twice this week. The only diving duck not previously reported in recent weeks was a COMMON MERGANSER that flew past the lighthouse this morning, perhaps one of a dozen or more unidentified mergansers that flew past there yesterday. Nine WILD TURKEYS, apparently a family group, were in the Park yesterday. The previously reported RED-NECKED GREBE at the calf pasture was there as recently as September 5. A COMMON NIGHTHAWK was seen as recently as September 2. A VIRGINIA RAIL was calling on that same evening.
The last three days have seen a resurgence of the shorebird migration, coinciding with World Shorebirds Day yesterday and culminating with an estimate of 700 shorebirds on the beach today. Before that, an AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER sat on the beach last Friday and Saturday, but the possible highlight was a tentatively identified HUDSONIAN GODWIT seen by two Park biologists working on High Bluff Island yesterday evening. Among the shorebirds that a number of birders were able to relocate both yesterday and today was a RED KNOT that had been seen on Saturday. A BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER was seen on Saturday. The fifteen other shorebird species included RUDDY TURNSTONE, BAIRD'S SANDPIPER, PECTORAL SANDPIPER, AMERICAN WOODCOCK, SPOTTED SANDPIPER, SOLITARY SANDPIPER, and GREATER YELLOWLEGS.
There still are a lot of CASPIAN TERNS on Gull Island. At dawn today 45 were seen. Sightings in the heron family included AMERICAN BITTERN and GREEN HERON as well as a roost of four GREAT EGRETS in the cove at the calf pasture. As an indication of the surprises that can appear during fall migration, a BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER was at the calf pasture on September 10, 2000. There were single sightings this week of OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER and YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER. BLUE-HEADED VIREO and PHILADELPHIA VIREO were also seen, as well as a COMMON RAVEN. The following brown-backed thrushes were seen this week: VEERY, GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH, SWAINSON'S THRUSH, HERMIT THRUSH. On September 1 an AMERICAN PIPIT was photographed on the beach. The first LAPLAND LONGSPURS should soon be appearing.
This has been a good week for warblers (22 species), though no rarities were found. OVENBIRD, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, CAPE MAY WARBLER, NORTHERN PARULA, and PALM WARBLER were among them. A LINCOLN'S SPARROW on September 4 was unusually early. A SCARLET TANAGER and a few BALTIMORE ORIOLES were of interest.
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 until after September 10 to prevent disturbance to the colonial nesting birds there. Birders not using a boat to access Gull Island may find the water too deep even for hip waders. 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.