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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Monarch and Migrants Weekend on at Presqu’ile Sept. 3 and 4

Giant Swallowtail at Presqu'ile (Photo by David Bree)
Presqu’ile Provincial Park's annual celebration of all things that migrate is on again this year over the Labour Day weekend.

“Presqu’ile being a point of land that sticks out into Lake Ontario is a natural trap for south bound migrants, be they birds or butterflies” states chief park naturalist David Bree.

“These flying creatures tend to follow the shoreline of Lake Ontario, looking for an easy way across the big water.  They funnel down into Presqu’ile and are reluctant to head north again to get out of the park and are equally reluctant to cross the lake.

Also in Presqu’ile’s favour is the fact that we have a number of good natural habitats where these migrants can rest and feed. So they just hang out for awhile waiting for the right conditions to jump across the lake.  This provides those that like looking at animals a great opportunity to for finding and seeing these animals”.
Sanderlings one of many species of shorebird that stop at Presqu'ile (Photo by David Bree)

“Our most famous migrants are the birds” says seasonal naturalist Carl-Adam Wegenschimmel.  “One of my favourites are the shorebirds that make amazing journeys from the Canadian Arctic to South America every year.  They stop at Presqu’ile to feed along our beach before moving on.  We usually get 25 different species stopping by every year and over the years have had 41 different species seen here!” 

Carl goes on to state “Equally fascinating are the monarchs, which can often be seen at Presqu’ile in impressive numbers as they wait along the shoreline for a good wind to help them across the lake and onto Mexico.  We are also seeing some Giant Swallowtails butterflies this summer, which are not really migrants but rather are southern wanderers.  These are the biggest butterflies in Canada and are great to see.”

To help visitors find and identify the many migrants that pass through Presqu’ile on this weekend there are a number of events planned.  There is chance to get a close look at small birds at the daily bird banding demonstration.  From 8am to noon Elizabeth Kellogg and Roger Frost will have their nets set up to catch and band any birds moving through the Owen Pt parking lot area.  This event can only go in dry weather for the safety of the birds. 
Monarchs staging at Presqu'ile getting ready for their flight to Mexico (Photo by David Bree)
One of the most popular events is the monarch tagging demonstration put on by Monarch expert Don Davis, between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. both days at the Lighthouse Centre.  Don has been tagging Monarchs at Presqu’ile for 26 years.

Visitors will see these butterflies up close, and while Don does the tagging, you will be able to release the monarchs.  Several of the butterflies tagged at this event over the years have been recovered later in the year in Mexico, Texas and other points south.

In addition to these special events park naturalists will be leading a number of bird and butterfly walks scheduled for 10 a.m. (Sunday), noon (Saturday)  and 4 p.m. (both days).  There will also be a children’s programme on monarchs Saturday at 10 a.m. and that night features an evening program looking at Migration at 7:30 p.m.  All events are free but a $14.00/vehicle park entrance fee applies.   

For more information on this celebration call David at 613 475-4324 ext. 225 or email at david.bree@ontario.ca

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