Presque Isle State Park
Gull Point


Directions:  See Presque Isle map


Description:  Gull Point Sanctuary (the "Point") was established as a bird sanctuary in 1927 and re-established as one in 1957. Part of the Ecological Reservation, it is an ever-shifting sand spit and is the best place in western Pennsylvania to see a diversity of migrant shore and water birds. It is used by shorebirds as a feeding and resting place during migration. Its location at the eastern tip of the peninsula and its varied habitats also make it appealing to passing migrants and nesting birds. The eastern-most end of Gull Point Sanctuary was closed off to the public from 1993 to the present between April 1 to November 30 to further protect the tip for migrating shorebirds and to encourage the return of nesting Piping Plover. This closed area is now known as The Special Management Area. There is an observation platform within the closed area that is open year round to the public, from which gulls and shorebirds can be viewed. Piping Plover and Common Tern have nested on this beach — the only Pennsylvania locality. Efforts by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Presque Isle Audubon Society are being made to encourage their return as breeding birds. In spring and fall waterfowl, gulls, terns, herons, and egrets, as well as shorebirds, visit the beaches and ponds. Warblers, sparrows, and other land birds gather in the vegetation along the inner paths to the sanctuary. In spring hawks pass overhead, especially on days with southwesterly winds. Least Bittern are generally seen during both migration seasons and nest in the Phragmites and cattails surrounding the older ponds. Marsh Wren, Killdeer, and Spotted Sandpiper are among the regular breeding birds. A few vagrant shorebirds usually hang around for the summer; migrants begin to trickle southward in July, but the largest flights often occur with storm fronts in August and early September. On one such rainy August morning in 2005, 21 species among several hundred shorebirds were counted here. Gull Point's open sandy beaches, grassy sand plains, dunes, marshes and ponds, bayberry heath, and mature cottonwoods characterize a complex ecosystem which is both dynamic and fragile. It is accessible by foot travel only.