[Ontbirds] Presqu'ile Birding Report for Week Ending September 14, 2006.

Fred Helleiner fhelleiner at trentu.ca
Thu Sep 14 21:35:04 EDT 2006

At Presqu'ile Provincial Park, the past week has provided many sights of 
interest for the visiting birders, who have come from as far away as 
California.  For westerners and young birders, the opportunity to add 
birds to the life list makes a visit to Presqu'ile worthwhile.  For the 
rest of us, migration season is never humdrum here.

The commonest water birds in Presqu'ile Bay these days are Pied-billed 
Grebes, numbering in the dozens.  The spring-plumaged Horned Grebe that 
first showed up in Popham Bay ten days ago was present again today, 
along with two others.  Both American Bitterns and a Black-crowned 
Night-Heron were seen recently.  Two Northern Shovelers were at Owen 
Point on September 11.  A flock of Redheads and a flock of Greater Scaup 
can usually be found in Popham Bay, sometimes coalescing into a single 

Several consecutive days last weekend provided what for Presqu'ile would 
be considered a good hawk migration.  The majority were Sharp-shinned 
Hawks, but there was also an Osprey and at least five Bald Eagles, 
including one adult on September 8 and four sub-adults seen in the air 
at one time on the following day.  A Northern Goshawk perched in a tree 
at the lighthouse on September 9, and one or two Merlins are seen on 
most days.  The raptor highlight, however, was a Peregrine Falcon that 
put on a great show on Saturday for a number of people right beside the 
main road.  It had caught a banded Rock Pigeon and ate it on the road 
and, after tiring of vehicular interruptions, carried it up to an 
adjacent utility pole, where it posed for photographs.  Surprisingly, 
not only the prey but also the predator was banded.  On the left leg, 
there was a red band above a blue band, while the right leg sported a 
conventional aluminum band.  Readers of this account, especially those 
who witnessed the event, would likely want to know the provenance of the 
falcon.  Can anyone help?

One observer flushed a  threesome of Ruffed Grouse.  The first American 
Coot of the fall appeared opposite 38 Bayshore Road on September 9.  
Fourteen species of shorebirds were at Presqu'ile since the weekend, 
most of them on "Gull Tombolo" (a.k.a. "Gull Spit", the erstwhile Gull 
Island).  The constantly changing dynamics of that part of the Park make 
it a classic laboratory for studying shoreline processes as well as 
birds.  There have been several single sightings of an American 
Golden-Plover and one or two Black-bellied Plovers.  Up to four 
Whimbrels have been on the tombolo almost every day this week, and one 
was still there on the afternoon of September 14.  A Ruddy Turnstone was 
on Sebastopol Island (formerly Sebastopol Point) for at least two days.  
A Buff-breasted Sandpiper, perhaps the rarest shorebird of the week, was 
on the beach on September 12 and 13.  A Wilson's Snipe, flushed on the 
new Gull Tombolo on September 11, was one of very few seen at Presqu'ile 
this year.  Within the next few weeks, some lucky observer may find a 
Long-billed Dowitcher or a Hudsonian Godwit, both of which occur 
periodically in the Park at this time of year.  A Forster's Tern was 
flying around Gull Tombolo on  September 13 and 14, together with a 
Common Tern on the latter date.

The latest sighting of a Common Nighthawk was on September 8, just 
before the arrival of a cool front that overnight changed the whole 
complexion of Presqu'ile's land birds.  A Pileated Woodpecker that was 
disturbed on High Bluff Island was observed in the unusual behaviour of 
flying directly from that offshore island towards the mainland.   Two 
other birds seen in an unlikely location were a Carolina Wren and a 
House Wren on the treeless Gull Tombolo on September 14.  A late 
Olive-sided Flycatcher was at the calf pasture on September 9.  Several 
species of migrating thrushes and American Pipits have been present 
through much of the past week.  Warblers have been and still are 
ubiquitous.  Over twenty species failed to produce any rarities but 
Northern Parulas have been exceptionally abundant, appearing in almost 
every flock and often several at a time.  A few Scarlet Tanagers have 
been among the warblers.  Although the anticipated influx of hundreds of 
sparrows has not yet materialized, that may change with the next cold 
front.  The advance guard has included Savannah Sparrow (September 14), 
Lincoln's Sparrow (September 11), and an early White-crowned Sparrow 
that has been at 83 Bayshore Road since September 11.  Perhaps the best 
location for finding sparrows is Gull Tombolo, where the lush vegetation 
provides ample shelter - and frustratingly difficult viewing.  Nelson's 
Sharp-tailed Sparrows and Lapland Longspurs often show up there in late 
September.  Two Rusty Blackbirds on  September 9 may be the earliest on 
record at Presqu'ile.

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.

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.

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