By Doug McRae
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.
It was a pretty good week in the Park with lots of seasonal birds plus a few nice rarities and one simply outstanding find that thrilled the dozens of birders who rushed to the Park to see it.
The crossing to Gull Island is now very easy with the water being only half way up rubber boots. For the first time in recent memory it is now possible to wade to High Bluff Island, a very under-birded site. A gravel spit from the east tip of High Bluff has grown significantly toward Gull and is now only about 20m away, and waist deep if you make the crossing. I would caution anyone who tries this to not go alone, take some extra food/water, and not attempt it if there is a strong wind-driven current as deep water is very near.
PURPLE SANDPIPER, BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE, LITTLE GULL, BARN OWL, BOHEMIAN WAXWING, HOARY REDPOLL
BRANT – 1 was seen on Gull Is. on 12 Nov.
TRUMPETER SWAN – Still not a common bird here so 8 seen on 9 Nov were notable.
TUNDRA SWAN – 2 were seen on 12 Nov.
SURF SCOTER – present all week in small numbers off the Lighthouse and beach
WHITE-WINGED SCOTER – present all week offshore with a high count of 150 on 8 Nov.
BLACK SCOTER – also present all week off the beach with a high count of 24 on 8 Nov.
LONG-TAILED DUCK – numbers continue to build with a high of 1300 around the islands alone on 8 Nov.
RED-THROATED LOON – Calm water off the beach revealed 2 on 8 Nov and 4 on 10 Nov.
DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT – now getting quite scarce with 1 on 9 Nov being the last report.
AMERICAN BITTERN – The lingering bird at Calf Pasture was last seen7 Nov.
ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK – several birds (both light and dark morphs) seen around the islands through the week.
AMERICAN COOT – 7 were in the marsh on 6 Nov and 4 on 10 Nov.
SEMIPALMATED PLOVER – a late bird remained on the beach from 7 Nov to 10 Nov.
SANDERLING – present through the week with a high of 36 on 7 Nov.
DUNLIN – present through the week with a high of 38 on 10 Nov.
PURPLE SANDPIPER – 1 was on High Bluff Is. on 8 Nov and 1 was on Gull Is. on 12 Nov.
WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER – present through the week with a high of 10 on 8 Nov.
PECTORAL SANDPIPER – 3 birds were present 7-9 Nov and a single on 10 Nov.
BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE – an immature bird that was limping and lethargic was found on High Bluff Is. on 8 Nov, then flew to Gull Is. and was last seen off High Bluff campground being attacked by a Herring Gull.
LITTLE GULL – an adult and first winter bird were off Beach 1 on 8 Nov and an adult was seen there on 10 Nov.
ROCK PIGEON – 4 were seen on 7 Nov and 2 were seen on 8 and 12 Nov (same birds).
BARN OWL – three veteran Presqu’ile birders heard chickadees and a Hairy Woodpecker mobbing something in a clump of cedars so they investigated and discovered a mind-blowing rarity - a roosting Barn Owl. This highly endangered species has essentially vanished from the province and occurrences are now very rare, usually involving birds found sick or dead. This owl was a lifer for most of the 70+ people who rushed to the park to see it. It spent the entire day sleeping high up in a spruce and was undisturbed by the admiring humans. There is one previous record for Presqu’ile; a bird found beheaded in the Fingers on 24 May 1970.
SNOWY OWL – the first of the winter was seen on 8 Nov.
PEREGRINE FALCON – 1 was seen on 8 Nov and it or another the next day.
HORNED LARK – 17 on 8 Nov was a high count.
BROWN THRASHER – 1 on 8 Nov is getting late.
BOHEMIAN WAXWING – 1 was seen on 12 Nov and may be a sign of more to come.
LAPLAND LONGSPUR – 1 was seen on 9 and 12 Nov.
YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER – 2 seen on 8 Nov was the only report.
FOX SPARROW – 1 was seen on 8 Nov.
WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW – 4 on 8 Nov was the only report.
RUSTY BLACKBIRD – 1 was seen on 12 Nov.
WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL – 2 were seen on 9 Nov and more are likely based on reports from nearby.
COMMON REDPOLL – seen throughout the week in small numbers.
HOARY REDPOLL – 1 was seen on Gull Is. with Commons on 12 Nov.
PINE SISKIN – small numbers present through the week.
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.
Birders should be aware that duck hunting is permitted in the Park on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and access restrictions are in place on hunting days. This means that the islands, marsh, and Calf Pasture Point are off limits. Owen Pt. is open for now but will be closed once a blind is placed there. Closed areas are well signed.