Repost: A day at Presqu’ile Provincial Park

Beach at Presqu'ile Provincial Park

Today I am reposting one of the most popular posts from earlier this year. Presqu’ile Provincial Park is one of Ontario’s best birding sites. We visited in May toward the end of spring migration, but it is also a great place to see fall migrants, particularly waterfowl and shorebirds. Be aware controlled waterfowl hunting occurs in Presqu’ile each Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from the last Saturday in September to the last Saturday in December, limiting access to some areas.

The first day of vacation we spent unexpectedly at Presqu’ile Provincial Park. Our intended destination was Prince Edward County, but when I realized how close we were to Presqu’ile I wanted to check it out. It is a great place to see migrating birds, and I had never visited it before. We headed over after breakfast on Friday. The day was so perfect and the park so interesting, we ended up staying most of the day.

Black swallowtail - Papilio polyxenesLike Point Pelee and Long Point in Lake Erie, Presqu’ile in Lake Ontario is an important staging ground for spring migrants crossing the Great Lakes. The west beach is apparently one of the top places in Ontario to see migrating sandpipers and other shorebirds. To see that I will have to return in late winter. It is fun to take Danny birding because so many birds are new to him. At Owens Point we had a good opportunity to compare common and Caspian terns. We took had a good look at the striking plumage of a yellow-shafted flicker and a scarlet tanager.

The marsh boardwalk presented interesting and diverse habitat. It traverses ancient sandbars that have become covered over the centuries with cottonwoods, cedars and white pines. The open water between them is gradually filling in. Lake currents and streams deposit sediments, anchored by cattail roots. The series of ridges creates unusual biodiversity. Newly introduced species succeed established ones almost constantly. Common cattails from Europe have replaced native narrow-leaved cattails. Mute swans, recent interlopers, chase other waterfowl and disturb their nest sites. Eventually the entire marsh will fill in and become dry land. These processes are allowed to follow their natural progression even at the expense of rare species. For example, the black tern used to nest abundantly at Presqu’ile, but does so no longer. The park offers a lot of ecological interest and I hope to return.

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