Presqu’ile hails back to the middle Ordovician period, which is approximately 450 million years ago. It was part of the warm shallow sea covering North America. The sediments and shell fragments gradually (in the span of approximately 300 million years) became compacted and turned into sedimentary rock which is almost five kilometers thick. This rock also contains many fossils from the shell fragments of various sea creatures. Erosion, the melting of ice sheets, and various other natural forces eventually turned Presqu’ile Park into its current incarnation.

Habitats and Flora

Presqu’ile is one of the most noteworthy areas on the lower Great Lakes. Primarily known for its bird migration, Presqu’ile Park is also notable for its botanical attributes. It contains an extremely diverse plant community.  The habitats are divided into 8 primary categories: sand beach, panne, dune, conifer-dominated forest on low sand ridges, marsh and bay complex, forest over limestone bedrock, old field and thicket on limestone bedrock, and conifer plantation. The vegetation depends on the location as well as the ever changing moisture levels.

Birds and Birding

At present, there are around 337 wild bird species recorded at Presqu’ile Park. 120 of these species are known to breed at the park. Many are also vagrant species that may not be seen each year or may never be seen again. These impressive numbers are brought about by several factors, including the location of the park, its shape, and the diversity of its habitats.

Because it is located near Lake Ontario, birds routinely assemble along the shores while waiting for favorable winds. Most water birds start arriving in late March, although more species will arrive in the beginning of May. Majority of the small birds start arriving in May, with approximately 100 species recorded during this time.

 

Other Fauna

Presqu'ile Provincial Park is also home to other animals. It is the perfect location to study the monarch butterfly which arrives early June and begin laying their eggs on the milkweed species found in the park. The park was also once home to the Atlantic salmon. Unfortunately, they were wiped out because of farming and development efforts.

Youngster enjoys the sun and soft sand at Presquile Provincial Park July 3, 2010. This for summer beach series in Living section story by Stuart Laidlaw. FRED THORNHILL PHOTO FOR THE TORONTO STAR