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Presqu'ile Provincial Park (ON004)

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Presqu'ile Provincial Park (ON004)

Brighton, Ontario

Latitude 44.009°N
Longitude 77.709°W
Altitude 247 - 250m
Area 28.44km²

Site Description

Presqu'ile Provincial Park is located on the north shore of Lake Ontario, approximately 135 km east of Toronto. It is a boot-shaped peninsula that juts 10 km out into Lake Ontario. The outer section of the peninsula is formed from a limestone island, with the isthmus to the mainland being formed from sand. Two offshore islands, Gull and High Bluff are located immediately to the southwest of the peninsula, and an extensive cattail and open water marsh is located in the lee of the peninsula. The park is about 937 ha in area, with 427 ha being water and 510 ha being land. Within this area, diverse habitats are present including large marshes, sand dunes, wide sandy beaches, old fields, a variety of forest types and productive lake areas.

Birds

Presqu'ile Provincial Park is well known for its bird life. During the spring and fall, large numbers of migrants move through the area, and during the late spring and summer a diverse community of breeding birds is present. In all, a total of 318 bird species have been confirmed within the park, with over 130 species being recorded as breeders (among the highest totals for any area in Ontario).

From an Important Bird Area perspective, at least two species are regularly present during spring migration in globally significant numbers (i.e., greater than 1% of their biogeographical population): Greater Scaup and Whimbrel. In addition, the park supports globally significant breeding populations of two additional species: Ring-billed Gull (possibly 7% of the North American population) and Caspian Tern (about 3% of the North American population). Continentally significant numbers of Atlantic Brant and Dunlin are regularly seen. Nesting Double-crested Cormorants are also present in globally significant numbers. Great Egrets began nesting in the park in 1999, and at least three pairs were present in 2000. Nesting King Rails (nationally endangered) and Least Bitterns (nationally vulnerable) have also been recorded in the park, but detailed surveys to establish their regularity (in the case of King Rail) and estimate their numbers (in the case of Least Bittern) have not been completed. Numbers of Least Bitterns, however, are likely close to being nationally significant. Historically, large numbers of Black Terns have also nested in the marsh, but in recent years their numbers have declined.

Presqu'ile is also an important stopover site for migrating landbirds. The species richness is comparable to other landbird concentration sites on the lower Great Lakes. In the past, up to 60,000 swallows regularly roosted in the park in late summer, although more recently numbers have been in the order of 7,000. Large flocks of blackbirds, and occasionally winter finches, have also been reported.

Conservation Issues

Although designated as a provincial park since 1922, the management of Presqu'ile is controversial due to the high demands placed on this small, ecologically sensitive area. Beach management needs for shorebirds differ from those of recreational beach users; a controlled waterfowl hunt has occurred in the park; intensive browsing by a large population of white-tailed deer and the spread of non-native species are affecting the native flora and fauna; and human disturbance of resting shorebirds and breeding gulls and terns is sometimes a problem. To address these concerns, park staff, along with local naturalist clubs, are working to ensure that the parks ecological values are protected and enhanced, while accommodating the broad range of annual park users.

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Red-breasted Merganser
Number Year Season
2,0002016Fall
2,000 - 15,0002012Fall
5,0002011Fall
5,0002008Fall
2,000 - 2,5002002Fall
2,000 - 10,0001999Fall
Ring-billed Gull
Number Year Season
50,0002014Spring
20,0002013Spring
50,0001991Spring
63,608 - 75,2241990Spring
138,8341990Summer
Greater Scaup
Number Year Season
8,0002016Spring
5,0002011Fall
5,000 - 5,5002010Fall
5,3492009Spring
5,0002008Spring
5,450 - 13,1502004Spring
5,857 - 12,8902004Winter
5,000 - 9,5732003Spring
10,0002002Winter
6,0002001Spring
4,4002001Winter
5,6502000Spring
5,000 - 7,6002000Winter
6,0001999Fall
5,0001999Spring
5,000 - 10,5001995Spring
5,2001995Winter
7,8001994Spring
11,0001981Winter
Redhead
Number Year Season
5,5002017Winter
8,0002016Spring
5,5001998Spring
Bonaparte's Gull
Number Year Season
3,0002016Spring
5,0002008Fall
3,0001999Fall
Double-crested Cormorant
Number Year Season
20,0002015Summer
17,0002000Summer
8,0301997Summer
7,3381996Summer
5,2381995Summer
6,3181994Summer
6,082 - 10,0001993Summer
4,8361992Summer
3,5921991Summer
Canvasback
Number Year Season
6,3002003Spring
4,0001997Spring
5,0061993Spring
Rusty Blackbird
Number Year Season
25 - 352012Spring
752011Winter
302002Fall
501999Fall
24 - 301998Spring
781996Winter
301996Spring
251995Spring
501993Spring
501991Winter
Little Gull
Number Year Season
22016Winter
22015Fall
22012Spring
22006Fall
22005Fall
22004Fall
62004Spring
22003Fall
32002Fall
22001Fall
22000Spring
2 - 31999Fall
2 - 41999Spring
2 - 151998Fall
31997Fall
2 - 51996Fall
21995Fall
31991Fall
Caspian Tern
Number Year Season
2,4442001Summer
2,4002000Summer
9321997Summer
7401994Summer
5881993Summer
2041990Summer
Velvet Scoter
Number Year Season
4,5002002Fall
8,0001995Winter
Whimbrel
Number Year Season
1,0001985Spring
Herring Gull
Number Year Season
4,0002000Winter
3,0001996Winter
King Rail
Number Year Season
1 - 22017Fall
12017Summer
12014Summer
12002Summer
22002Spring
11996Spring
Loggerhead Shrike
Number Year Season
12016Fall
11999Fall
11996Spring
Prothonotary Warbler
Number Year Season
12017Fall
12014Fall
12011Summer
12008Spring
11999Spring
Yellow-breasted Chat
Number Year Season
11992Spring
Waterbirds
Number Year Season
20,0001980Spring
Brant
Number Year Season
2,5001993Spring
2,8001987Spring
1,5001986Spring
3,0001983Spring
Chimney Swift
Number Year Season
242017Spring
Long-tailed Duck
Number Year Season
7,7431997Winter