Sunday, November 25, 2012

November 17-18, 2012 Birding Prince Edward Point and Presqui'le

The birding at Prince Edward Point was rather slow this morning with few land birds remaining. A couple of flocks of Dark-eyed Junco and American Tree Sparrow were observed along the road and a couple of Pine Grosbeak, 22 Common Redpoll and 3 White-winged Crossbill were noted overhead.  An immature Bald Eagle was observed perched as well as an immature Northern Goshawk. There were hundreds of Long-tailed Duck, Red-breasted Merganser and a small number of White-winged Scoters and a Northern Shrike was seen hunting. While making our way out to the lighthouse I received a call from Doug McCrae, he had an odd looking sandpiper at Presqu'ile. We cancelled our plans and headed to Presqu'ile. The drive took just over an hour and we arrived at the causeway just outside the park. A number of birders had gathered studying the "peep".  Due to the distance and poor light conditions it was difficult to be sure of the species. After a while it became apparent the sandpiper was a winter plumage Least Sandpiper. We could see the leg colour - a yellow-green. Due to the late date it was in a plumage that wasn't familiar. It was a great learning experience!
Along with the Least Sandpiper there was an amazing 38 Wilson's Snipe, 6 White-rumped Sandpiper, 3 Pectoral Sandpiper, 9 Killdeer and a number of Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal and Mallards. A quick look off Owen Point revealed one Purple Sandpiper feeding along the south-east corner of Gull Island. The following morning we headed out to Gull Island and observed 2 Snowy Owls and were able to watch one bathing and having a drink. It was interesting to watch it walk slowly out into the shallow water. Off shore 100's of Long-tailed Duck, Greater Scaup, Common Goldeneye and Red-breasted Mergansers were observed.  Unfortunately no Purple Sandpipers were seen. Owen Point and Gull island are the most reliable locations for these sandpipers in eastern/southern Ontario during late November and early December. Maybe next week!
At the lighthouse a couple of Pine Grosbeaks  were observed flying over calling and another one was seen near the Township Park feeding on berries. Presqu'ile Bay was full of Mute Swans, over 200 along with an American Coot, Pied-billed Grebe, American Wigeon, Gadwall, Ruddy Duck and Ring-necked Duck.

Good birding, Bruce
Directions courtsey of Fred Helleiner: 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 not using a boat should be able to walk across the gap without special footwear unless a wind change creates a gap of shallow water. 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. Birders are encouraged to record their observations on the bird sightings board provided near the campground office by The Friends of Presqu'ile Park and to fill out a rare bird report for species not listed there.

An immature Bald Eagle resting along the shoreline

This immature Northern Shrike was investigating all the small bird activty around a feeder.

Barred Owls appear to be again on the move south this fall. Numerous birds have been reported along the east shore of Lake Ontario and Amherst Island.

An adult winter plumage Bonaparte's Gull feeding off Owen Point at Presqu'ile.

Incredibly low water levels along the Lake Ontario. You can walk from Owen Point to Gull Island without getting your feet wet!

A Snowy Owl walks out into the water for a bath and a drink. Surprisingly this is only one of the few times I've ever witnessed an owl bathing.

After its bath the owl flapped its wings a number of times and began preening.

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