[Ontbirds] Presqu'ile Birding Report for Week Ending November 20, 2008.

Fred Helleiner fhelleiner at trentu.ca
Thu Nov 20 20:47:28 EST 2008

Even though this has been a relatively lacklustre week of birding at 
Presqu'ile Provincial Park, there have been at least two surprises just 
to keep things interesting.  The sudden drop in temperatures has had 
noticeable effects on the distribution, and perhaps also the numbers, of 
birds within the Park.  In particular, the freezing of the marsh and 
adjacent waters has forced many birds to move elsewhere.

Mute Swan numbers reached a high of 185 on November 19 and will likely 
double before the winter is over, as birds from elsewhere gather in 
Presqu'ile Bay.  There were from two to fifteen Tundra Swans in that 
area on five of six consecutive days (November 14 -19).  High counts of 
Gadwalls, Northern Pintails, and Green-winged Teal before the freeze-up 
were twelve, six, and 70 respectively, all of them in the marsh.  
Subsequently, the corresponding numbers that have been found were two, 
zero, and five, none in the marsh.  A male Hooded Merganser was at the 
edge of the marsh before the freeze-up, and a female was at the calf 
pasture afterwards.  Two Red-throated Loons were far out in Popham Bay 
on November 19, and at least one Common Loon was still in Presqu'ile Bay 
on the following day.  The highlight of the week was the discovery of an 
Eared Grebe, the second of the season, about 500 metres out in Popham 
Bay on November 15.  Three Great Blue Herons were seen on one afternoon 
before the freeze-up, but only one could be found after that, huddled on 
the shore in the calf pasture cove.  The flock of nearly fifty American 
Coots that has gathered (as it always does at this time of year) at the 
very outer edge of the marsh has not been affected by ice, as that area 
will remain open for a few more weeks.

An immature Northern Goshawk put in an appearance at the lighthouse on 
November 19 and opposite 52 Bayshore Road the following morning.  A Bald 
Eagle and a Northern Harrier were in the Owen Point area today.  At High 
Bluff Island there was a Rough-legged Hawk on November 19 and three 
Red-tailed Hawks on November 20..

A Greater Yellowlegs at Salt Point on November 14 was rather late for 
that species.  Small numbers of Sanderlings and close to 100 Dunlins 
were still present before most of the shoreline around Popham Bay froze 
over, and single Dunlins were present on the beach and at the lighthouse 
after that.  A lone Purple Sandpiper seen on the beach on November 15 
and on Gull Island on November 16 and 18 may still remain for a while, 
as that species seems to be able to find places to forage after most 
other shorebirds have fled.  An Iceland Gull on November 15 was the only 
uncommon larid spotted in the past week.

Three species of owls were found, a Great Horned Owl along Paxton Drive, 
two Snowy Owls, one of which is usually visible even from the mainland 
on Sebastopol Island or Gull Island, and a Barred Owl near the east end 
of the Newcastle trail that kept a close eye (actually two dark ones) on 
a birder that was walking past beneath it.

A Belted Kingfisher, a Northern Shrike, and two very vocal Common Ravens 
were seen on November 19.  A late Ruby-crowned Kinglet was in the trees 
at 191 Bayshore Road on November 15.  Two birders chatting about 
unrelated matters in the doorway of 186 Bayshore Road on November 19 
were pleasantly surprised (startled?) when a bright Pine Warbler 
suddenly appeared from nowhere and sat briefly almost within arm's 
length.  It flew off but returned to the feeders a few minutes later.  
Again on the following morning it made several brief visits to the 
feeders and returned at infrequent intervals until late afternoon on 
November 20.  It is over a month later than previous fall record for the 
Park and will continue to set new records each day if it continues to 
visit the feeders.  The feeders at 85 Bayshore Road were hosting an 
American Tree Sparrow, a Song Sparrow, and three White-throated Sparrows 
on November 19, and five Red-winged Blackbirds and three Common Grackles 
on the following day.  Two different Purple Finches, a male and a 
female, have been patronizing the feeders at 186 Bayshore Road, and 
three Common Redpolls were feeding in the nearby trees on November 19.  
Not far away on the same day were two Pine Siskins. Surprisingly, the 
host of American Goldfinches that was frequenting local feeders up till 
November 19 appears to have disappeared overnight.  A female House 
Sparrow, the first since late September, fed briefly at those feeders on 
November 17.

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, Owen Point, and 
part of the calf pasture are not available for bird-watching on those days.

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

Fred Helleiner

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

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