By Doug McRae
Photo: Andrea Kingsley
This report is primarily based on sightings gleaned from eBird, and those reported directly to me. I would be grateful to hear of any interesting sightings. You can reach me at email@example.com. Your observations are very much appreciated. If you are reporting something rare, please provide some details (exact location, ID features noted) or photographs if possible. Finally in order to try and keep the database as accurate as possible, eBird accounts submitted under false names or pseudonyms will not be used unless I know who the actual observer is.
HIGHLIGHTS: Red-necked Grebe, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Gray-cheeked Thrush, American Pipit.
OVERVIEW: Migration is in full swing and, depending on weather systems, large numbers of warblers and other migrants can be seen. A general theme seems to be that many species across different groups – waterfowl, songbirds - are arriving unusually early. The access restrictions (designed to protect colonial birds that nest there) to Gull and High Bluff end on Saturday, 11 Sep. Wading to Gull is usually easy, High Bluff is typically only accessible by boat. I will report next week on water depth on the crossing to Gull.
Blue-winged Teal: A small group around Gull Is. has been building in numbers with 12 on 28 Aug being the high count.
Green-winged Teal: Migrants became obvious on 28 Aug when 40 were seen.
Redhead: A group has been seen in recent weeks around Gull Is. peaking at 8 on 29 Aug.
Ring-necked Duck: The first of fall was a single seen on 7 Sep.
Greater Scaup: The first of fall was a single on 3 Sep and it, or another seen the next day.
Lesser Scaup: Four seen on 28 Aug were the first of fall.
White-winged Scoter: Two seen on 31 Aug are a bit early.
Bufflehead: A single female was off the beach, and a bit early, on 1 Sep.
Common Goldeneye: Two seen on 4 Sep were also a bit on the early side.
Common Merganser: Migrants have arrived supplementing the family group at Owen Pt. with a peak of 29 on 29 Aug.
Horned Grebe: The first Horned Grebe was a single on 4 Sep followed by another on 6 Sep
Red-necked Grebe: One on 29 Aug was early.
Green Heron: This species is starting to get scarce but one was still here on 9 Sep.
Turkey Vulture: This species used to be rather scarce in the actual Park but over the past decade they have become much more common, especially around the islands and on the beach where they feed on dead carp and salmon. A high count of 18 standing on the shore of natural beach was reported on 18 Sep.
Bald Eagle: This species has picked up quite a bit and is now being seen daily, especially around the Islands. There was also a strong movement on 2 Sep when at least eight were seen in a few hours moving west.
Shorebirds: Shorebirds numbers are picking up with most expected species being seen. Until recently most were on Gull Is., far away and hard to see, but in the past week most have moved to the beach with the greatest concentrations being near the rope barrier at the south end of Beach 3. That said they can be anywhere along the beach, especially where clumps of algae have washed in.
Black-bellied Plover: The first young of the year was seen on Gull Is. on 2 Sep.
Sanderling: Numbers building through the period with a big influx on 8 Sep when at least 125 were seen on the beach.
Dunlin: The first of fall, a juvenile, was seen on 5 Sep. In fall migration, most Arctic-breeding shorebirds share a pattern where the females come first, then the males, followed by the young of the year. Dunlin is one of the few species that do this in reverse with the young coming first.
Baird’s Sandpiper: Birds have been seen daily, mostly near the rope divider at Beach 3 with a high count of 18 on 1 Sep.
Stilt Sandpiper: The most recent sightings (possibly the same bird) were singles on 27 Aug and 1 Sep.
Short-billed Dowitcher: The last report was of one on 4 Sep.
Great Black-backed Gull: A near adult on 1 Sep was the first report in weeks.
Common Tern: For some reason this species leaves the area very soon after breeding. The last report was of two on 29 Aug.
Rock Pigeon: A flock of 15 on 4 Sep were almost certainly Homing Pigeons.
Common Nighthawk: One on 3 Sep may well be the last of fall.
Red-headed Woodpecker: The family group that has been visiting a Bayshore Rd. feeder after nesting in Newcastle Woods was last seen on 3 Sep.
American Kestrel: The first of fall was a single seen on 2 Sep.
Merlin: This falcon was seen almost daily with as many as five between the gate and the Park Store on 2 Sep.
Peregrine Falcon: Singles were seen on 27-28 Aug, 2 Sep, 3 Sep, and 4 Sep.
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher: Singles of this inconspicuous boreal breeder were seen on 29 Aug and 7 Sep.
Blue-headed Vireo: Two on 2 Sep were the first of fall.
Philadelphia Vireo: One on 31 Aug was the first of fall.
Barn Swallow: This is the only swallow that has been seen recently with any frequency and in low numbers – the highest count being only 12 on 2 Sep.
Northern Rough-winged Swallow: One on 2 Sep is the first sighting in weeks.
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher: Singles were seen on 28 Aug, 29 Aug, 4 Sep, and 7 Sep.
Gray-cheeked Thrush: One 4 Sep and another on 7 Sep were a bit early but perhaps not out of place given the large number of early arrivals.
American Pipit: This species isn’t normally passing through until mid Sep but this year singles have already been seen on 29 Aug and 4 Sep.
Warblers: Migrant warblers are in full force right now with almost all expected species being seen in the past two weeks, although none of the always hoped for rarer species have turned up yet.
Yellow Warbler: Although a very common nesting bird, this is one of the earliest migrants and most are gone by Labour Day. Three on 7 Sep and one on 9 Sep may well be the last of fall.
Dark-eyed Junco: Early singles were noted on 2 Sep and 7 Sep.
Indigo Bunting: This is a species that tends to slip away unnoticed. A female was spotted on 28 Aug.
Please Note: Access to Gull and High Bluff Island is closed to visitation between 10 March and 10 September to protect the thousands of colonial birds that nest on the islands.
Directions: Presqu’ile Provincial Park is located south of Brighton on the north shore of Lake Ontario. It is well signed from either Hwy. 401 or Cty. Rd. 2.
Doug McRae Shrew Solutions Inc. 240 Presqu’ile Parkway Brighton, Ontario K0K 1H0 613-475-5014 H 613-243-4161 C