Presqu'ile Birding Report for Week Ending August 29, 2002.

Fred Helleiner fhelleiner at
Thu Aug 29 20:27:35 EDT 2002

The past week has been an exciting one for birding at Presqu'ile
Provincial Park, with lots of fall migrants and even a few rarities
showing up, as they usually do at this time of year.  The occurrence of
rare birds in the Park in August and September has become almost
predictable; the only question is which ones they will be.

A Horned Grebe flying over Popham Bay on August 24 was one of the
earliest fall dates on record.

Although Great Egrets nested again this year on High Bluff Island, they
are no longer being seen as frequently as earlier in the summer, and
certainly not in the numbers that were present last August.  On the
other hand, a Cattle Egret that flew over the marsh boardwalk on August
24 was a much more prized find, the first sighting in the Park in
several years.  Perhaps it was the same bird as the one seen across the
bay from the Park on July 31.

While dabbling ducks of various species are fairly common in August,
there has been a spate of diving duck appearances that is somewhat
unusual.  A Greater Scaup was present for three days in the cove west of
High Bluff Campground, together with a Bufflehead that was there on
August 26 and 27, apparently the earliest date on record.  A Common
Goldeneye has been present near the lighthouse for over two weeks, and a
Long-tailed Duck and a Common Merganser were also there on August 29.
Eight Common Mergansers feeding together at Owen Point on August 28 may
be a family group, lending support to suspicions that they may have
nested nearby.  A Red-breasted Merganser seen near the lighthouse on
August 25 was the first reported this fall.

An immature Bald Eagle was seen at the woodpile marsh on August 28.
Sharp-shinned and Cooper's Hawks have been seen at the lighthouse and at
the calf pasture.  Merlins, probably members of the family that bred in
the Park, have been frequent visitors along the beach and at the calf
pasture, where a Peregrine Falcon was reported on August 28.

At least twenty species of shorebirds have been feeding in the Owen
Point area during the past week.  Among the most reliable birds in that
congregation is a single Red Knot that has been co-operating for most
birders for almost two weeks.  White-rumped and Baird's Sandpipers are
also present every day.  The most recent report of a Stilt Sandpiper
that was present for a few days was August 23.  There have been repeated
reports of Buff-breasted Sandpipers, but they seem to have eluded most
observers.  The Short-billed Dowitcher count peaked at eleven, and the
Wilson's Phalarope count peaked at three, both on August 23.  A
Red-necked Phalarope on August 23 and 24 could be observed with a
spotting scope, swimming along the shore of Gull Island.  Birders are
impatiently awaiting the opportunity to check out the many other
shorebirds on Gull Island that have been tantalizing them by being just
beyond range.  That opportunity will come in less than two weeks, when
wading to the island will once again be permitted.  The only sighting of
a Whimbrel this season was of a lone bird flying over Presqu'ile Bay on
August 25.

Another bird that has delighted birders almost every day for over a week
is an immature Little Gull on Gull Island that makes occasional forays
to Owen Point, where it can be observed at close range, along with the
shorebirds.  For the next month, birders will be watching the sky
whenever a flock of gulls suddenly takes flight.  That may be a sign
that a Parasitic Jaeger has disturbed the flock.  That rare species is a
regular sight around Owen Point and Gull Island in September.

A Common Nighthawk, the first of the season here, made its way out to
the end of the peninsula on the evening of August 23.

Flycatchers have been passing through during the week, including two
Olive-sided Flycatchers and three Yellow-bellied Flycatchers on August

For several days this week, pockets of warblers numbering several dozen
in a single clump of trees or bushes have kept things exciting.  Twenty
species have been reported, including sixteen in one day.  The majority
have been Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Black-and-white, and American
Redstarts, with a sprinkling of Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, Wilson's, and
Canada Warblers and ones and twos of Orange-crowned Warbler (an
exceptionally early date - August 28), Northern Parulas, Cape May,
Yellow-rumped, and Mourning Warblers.  Judging from past experience, the
main body of migrating songbirds (including most warblers) has yet to
arrive at Presqu'ile, so prospects for birding in the Park should be
excellent for at least the next two weeks.  The Ontario Field
Ornithologists' outing on September 8 could very likely find close to
100 species.

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 normally 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.

Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be
directed to: FHELLEINER at TRENTU.CA.

Fred Helleiner

186 Bayshore Road,
R.R. #4,
Brighton, Ontario, Canada, K0K 1H0
VOICE: (613) 475 5309
If visiting, access via Presqu'ile Provincial Park.

Fred Helleiner <fhelleiner at>

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