We are all very lucky to have Presque Isle located here right outside our doorstep. No 100 or more mile trips to get to one of America’s best parks. Yes, our natural beauty not only has more visitors than Yellowstone, is Pennsylvania’s # 1 State Park, but is among the nation’s top ten birding locations according to Birder’s World magazine.
Of course, we all know that Presque Isle is a sand spit that extends seven miles into the water with Lake Erie on its northern edge and Presque Isle Bay on its southern. It has a varied habitat which ranges from sandy beaches, grassy areas, marshes, ponds and scrubby thickets to woods which include willows, maples, oaks, cottonwoods and pines. In a few words, it is a wonderful place to visit. Well, the birds seem to agree.
To date, 324 species of birds have been recorded on the park, some of which are seldom or never seen in other parts of Pennsylvania. Presque Isle is the state’s outpost on the Great Lakes and a major crossroads for bird and waterfowl migration and is located on the Great Atlantic Flyway. This is because many species of birds migrating from the U.S. to Canada, or in reverse during the fall, choose the park as a haven to rest and possibly nest along their long flights both north and south. The funny fact about the birds
that make their way to Presque Isle is that “our birds,” those that usually are seen in the local field guides on birds for this area, actually spend less than half their time here in our area. Once the snow has melted and weather warmed, they move north to or through our area. They love the abundant supply of insects and other food we offer here during their breeding season. At the end of the breeding season, usually fall or late summer, they move south again. At that time, they are just following their instincts to reach their “winter” homes.
If you would like to get an idea of which birds migrate to our area and when you might expect them, go to www.eNature.com/birding/migration_home.asp. This web site divides the nation into regions, and each region has a specific list of migratory birds and when they are likely to make their arrival in the various areas. If you would like to read more information than you could ever absorb about bird migration, go to Wikipedia.org/wiki/bird_migration. There are over 20 pages of information on bird migration presented on this site. On a local basis, you can keep up-to-date on local birding information at www.presqueisleaudubon.org/blog.
A good place to begin bird watching is on the trails of Presque Isle State Park. Almost the whole park is a great place for avid or beginner bird watchers to learn, visit and observe. I would recommend that beginning birdwatchers take a friend along who is educated on birds. Now notice that I said “educated.” That does not mean that you MUST take an expert, but having a friend that can tell a robin from a Baltimore Oriole would be helpful. However, this is a hobby that can be fulfilling with no prior knowledge, and equally fun alone or with a friend.
What’s so great about bird watching?
- It gets you out there and interacting with nature.
- It can be educational.
- You will see animals other than birds and develop a more rounded view of Presque Isle.
- The only money you really need to spend is for a good pair of binoculars.
- It is relaxing.
- It is a soothing hobby and a great break from the daily grind.
- You will most likely meet some very nice people.
- You get some exercise.
- If you go to Presque Isle, you will learn more about the park.
- It is just plain fun.
In my next blog, I will cover more on the how’s and why’s of getting started with Bird Watching on Presque Isle.
See you on the park!!
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