Sunday, November 18, 2007

2007 Summer Memories

There wasn't much to report in the birding department today, so I thought I would post my adventure at the Tip of Long Point last July. I wrote an article for other media, so I just copied it here and added a few photos.

I suppose you birdwatchers thought I went to the Tip of Point Pelee! No, I had an opportunity this past July to stay a few days at the Tip of Long Point. The Long Point Bird Observatory (LPBO) has a banding station out there, and in the off-season they like to have people stay and look after the facilities. It cost us nothing, and we had free reign of the place (at least to the boundary of the CWS property) to observe nature.
Maris Apse, Heather Campbell, Diane Salter and I were escorted by Stu Mackenzie on a boat to the Tip on July 19. We had four days of relaxation and nature exploration. Although the weather was threatening when we departed Old Cut, it turned out very nice.
The Tip has a long history, with the first lighthouse being built there about 1833, followed by a second, then the third and present one in 1916. There were various buildings there throughout the years, and the landscape has changed dramatically. The Tip was actually quite larger, but due to serious erosion over the years, it has shrunk. Foundations of old buildings are visible well off shore underwater. Only two buildings besides the lighthouse remain. A block building that housed the old fog horn stands as a banding lab. The last lightkeeper’s house, built in 1961, remains as the LPBO bander’s residence. This is where we stayed for four days.
In the old days when conditions were good, one could drive a car out the south beach 32 km to the Tip. In fact we found remains of a couple of old cars. Boat is now the only mode of transportation to the area.
The LPBO started banding there in the early 1960’s. In the 1970’s they had a cabin (later destroyed by fire), then a new banding lab was built. The lab was destroyed by a storm in 1985. By 1988, the lighthouse was automated, and the lightkeeper’s three-bedroom residence became available. Many rare birds have been seen at this location.

Upon our arrival, we were greeted by Fowler’s Toads and melanistic Garter Snakes. These are common at Long Point. After lunch, we checked out all the gulls and terns at the Tip.
In the morning and afternoon we would check the birds at the Tip in case any rarities showed up. At one point, I estimated over 2000 gulls and terns.
Each day we went for a hike in the morning and the afternoon to different locations. We looked at all forms of wildlife, and came across some interesting things. We saw over 60 species of birds and 20 species of butterflies.
Notable birds included a Whimbrel, Bald Eagle, Osprey, Woodcock, Least Bittern and an adult Whip-Poor-Will guarding a youngster. That was probably our most exciting find! There were quite a few Mockingbirds in the area, as well as Yellow-billed Cuckoos. We were a bit early for significant fall migration, but we did see an influx of Yellow Warblers on the second day. Bank Swallows were congregating by the thousands.
We were all interested in butterflies as well. The prettiest species encountered was the Common Buckeye, and there were several of those seen. The Eyed Brown was nice to see as well.
We looked at many plants. There are mainly only two species of trees at the Tip, including Red Cedar and Poplar with a few Weeping Willow, white Pine and Tamarack. There were some nice areas of Red Cedar savannah. We found quite a bit of Buttonbush, of which the butterflies were attracted to.
Stargazing was at its best out there, with little light pollution. I got up at 4 a.m. one morning to view the spectacle, and I was overwhelmed!
It was a unique experience that I would not hesitate to do again.

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