[Ontbirds] Presqu'ile Birding Report For Week Ending September 11, 2008

Don Shanahan vic.hide at sympatico.ca
Thu Sep 11 21:57:47 EDT 2008

Increasing bird numbers peaked on the weekend of September 6 & 7 producing some exciting results. Shorebirds led the way yielding a five-peep showcase on Sunday and Monday. Also, on Sunday the 7th, the OFO group saw 20 species of shorebirds.
Unsuspecting Mallards with a few American Black Ducks along with American Wigeon continue to mass about Gull Island and in Popham Bay. Good numbers of Green and Blue-winged Teal are also present in the same areas. A single Common Goldeneye was seen about Owen Point on September 7 & 8 and small groups of Red-breasted Mergansers are beginning to appear. An American Bittern, probably interrupted while frog hunting, was seen high and dry beside beach 3 on September 11. A single Great Egret continues to consort with numerous Double-crested Cormorants in the morning on Sebastopol Island. 

An Osprey was seen over Popham Bay as late as September 9 and Bald Eagles were seen on September 7 (one) and September 11 (two). A pair of Merlins began harassing shorebirds about Owen Point on September 8. That day in dramatic aerial pursuits, a Merlin was victorious in one instance and another shorebird evened the score by displaying incredible endurance and some fancy moves its pursuer wasn't familiar with. Another Merlin has been patrolling the Calf Pasture during the week.

Shorebird species and numbers peaked on September 7 and were visible at close range at Owen Point look-outs. The five-peep showcase referred to above involve Baird's, White-rumped, Least, Semipalmated and Western Sandpipers. These confusion species could be seen and compared at close range from September 6 - 8. The single Western Sandpiper, the most uncommon of the bunch, was present from September 6 - 9. Confusing the issue for some, and seemingly more likely to be seen at Presqu'ile, were several long-billed, rufous-scapulared Semipalmated Sandpipers. Other weekend favorites included Stilt, Pectoral and Buff-breasted Sandpipers, an adult and a juvenile Red Knot, vigorously excavating Ruddy Turnstones and, from September 8 - 11, a usually cooperative Red-necked Phalarope. A handful of Black-bellied and American Golden Plovers were seen through the week. Ten of the latter flew east from Gull Island at sunrise on September 11. 

Presqu'ile has yet to turn up a "good" gull so far this fall and numbers of Bonaparte's and Great Black-backed Gulls remain small. Jaegers unidentified to species were observed on September 5. One chased gulls off Owen Point and another, a very dark bird, was seen flying effortlessly amidst high winds and white-caps far out in Popham Bay. 

Common Nighthawks moved through the park in small numbers on the 6th (two), the 7th (1) and the 8th (3). The latter birds were seen in the evening flying north over Popham Bay. Two late Olive-sided Flycatchers were seen in the Calf Pasture on September 7. A good-sized songbird flock near the lighthouse on the same date produced four vireo species, including Philadelphia Vireo. Brown Creepers were gathering about the lighthouse from September 9 onwards and, on the 7th, a Carolina Wren was heard between the park store and Owen Point. A single Ruby-crowned Kinglet seen near the lighthouse on September 7 was a bit early and a Swainson's Thrush seen at the same location on the 10th probably represented the front end of the thrush vanguard.

Warbler numbers about the lighthouse were good on September 7 and again on September 10. Orange-crowned Warblers, one of the latest warbler migrants, should be appearing soon. Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos can also be expected to peak in the near future. Late passerines included an Indigo Bunting at the lighthouse on September 7 and a Black-billed Cuckoo near the marsh boardwalk on the 5th. 

To reach Presqu'ile Provincial Park, follow the signs from Brighton. Locations in the Park are shown in a tabloid available at the Park gate. The new viewing platform near the Marsh Boardwalk parking lot is now open as is access to Gull Island (until the duck hunt begins in 10 days). Birders wading to Gull Island can expect water from knee to waist deep with a current and slippery rocks beneath.

For Fred Helleiner,
Don Shanahan
613 475 3502

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