Presqu'ile Birding Report for Week Ending October 24, 2002.

Fred Helleiner fhelleiner at
Thu Oct 24 21:36:00 EDT 2002

Although the variety of birds at Presqu'ile Provincial Park is not as
great near the end of October as it was earlier in the month (when it
was possible to see over 100 species in a day), the numbers of birds are
every bit as great or greater, and the rarities continue to make life
interesting for visiting birders.

Several people have commented on the apparent recent scarcity of loons
at Presqu'ile.  Off the south shore of High Bluff Island, however, (an
area not often visited by birders because of its inaccessibility) there
is a concentration of at least 20 Common Loons.  There was also a Horned
Grebe off the west shore of the island on October 24.  To the relief of
many local people who have an irrational dislike of them, there is now
only a sprinkling of Double-crested Cormorants left in the area, and
those few are likely to leave in the next few weeks.

Several Brant, up to six at a time, have been seen this week, most
recently a single individual consorting with Canada Geese and Mallards
along the beach on October 24.  There are still thousands of ducks,
including most of the commoner species, in all of the open water
surrounding the peninsula.  As well, a group of about four female Surf
Scoters (the ones that have not been picked off by hunters) and about
eight female Black Scoters has been present every day for over a week.
They can be observed by scanning the small flocks of scaup between Salt
Point and the lighthouse.  This area is largely private property, but
there are a few public vantage points on Bayshore Road.  A female Ruddy
Duck was seen off 38 Bayshore Road on October 24.

On October 21, a Bald Eagle was seen at Owen Point.  The first
Rough-legged Hawk of the season was circling high over Gull Island On
October 24.  Both a Merlin (October 21) and a Peregrine Falcon (October
24) were seen at the lighthouse.

The flock of American Coots off the entrance to Lilac Lane appears to
have peaked earlier in the week at about 140, but is only about half
that size now.

Among shorebirds (Presqu'ile's specialty), there were still fifteen
species present during the past week, and they are appearing along all
of the shoreline areas.  There was still an American Golden-Plover on
Gull Island on October 20 and a Semipalmated Plover there on October
22.  Both Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs were seen along the causeway
leading into the Park.  The most recent report of Red Knots is that of
two individuals on the beach on October 23.  White-rumped Sandpipers are
being seen in small numbers (up to 12) from one end of the Park to the
other, usually accompanying one of the large flocks of Dunlins.
Phalaropes have been the surprise highlight of the week.  Two very late
Red-necked Phalaropes were discovered on October 20 at the Brighton
sewage lagoon and re-appeared the next day along the causeway leading
into the Park.  An even rarer Red Phalarope, the first at Presqu'ile in
about two years, appeared at Beach 1 on October 22 and has been seen by
many birders since then.  It was still there late in the afternoon of
October 24.  With October drawing to a close, there is keen anticipation
of the arrival of Purple Sandpipers, which regularly put in appearances,
sometimes in good numbers, at Presqu'ile in late fall.

A probable light-phased Parasitic Jaeger was seen spooking the gulls and
ducks off Gull Island on October 24.  Surprisingly, this is the first
jaeger report at Presqu'ile this year, but it is not too late for others
to appear.  Little Gulls have been seen for the past three days at Beach
1 and elsewhere, as many as 11 on one day.

A visit to High Bluff Island on October 24 paid off with the discovery
of two Northern Saw-whet Owls roosting in a clump of cedars.

On October 21, a surprise sighting of a Common Raven at the lighthouse
(being pestered by American Crows and dive-bombed  by a Merlin) was one
of only a handful of records for Presqu'ile, even though the species has
been known to nest elsewhere in Northumberland County.

Only five species of warblers were found during the past week:
Orange-crowned Warbler (at the lighthouse on October 19); Black-throated
Blue Warbler (at the lighthouse on October 20); Yellow-rumped Warblers
(still fairly ubiquitous but in diminished numbers); Palm Warbler
(October 20 at Owen Point and October 23 at the marsh boardwalk);
American Redstart (October 23 at the lighthouse  -  almost matching the
record late date of October 27 established last year).

An Eastern Towhee was at the lighthouse on October 24.  American Tree
Sparrows first appeared on October 20 and are now being seen regularly.
A Field Sparrow was on High Bluff Island on October 24.  Lapland
Longspurs have been sighted again on Gull Island, and Snow Buntings
first appeared there on October 20 but have been increasing steadily in
numbers since then, with flocks being seen in various parts of the
Park.  As yet, there has been a surprising lack of winter finches.
Perhaps the next cold front will inspire them to move into the area.

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 should be
prepared to wade through shin-deep water in which there is often a swift
current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven.  It should also be
noted that, because duck hunting is given priority on Mondays,
Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Gull Island, High Bluff Island, and
part of the calf pasture are not available for bird-watching on those
days.  After October 31, Owen Point will also be off limits on those

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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