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PRINCE EDWARD POINT NATIONAL WILDLIFE AREA / LITTLE BLUFF CONSERVATION AREA / PRINCE EDWARD POINT BIRD OBSERVATORY REVIEW
I combined these three as two of them are within minutes of each other (Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area – PEPNWA – and Little Bluff CA) and the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory – PEPtBO – is on the property of the Prince Edward Point NWA. This write up was spread across two years, as we visited Little Bluff CA last Summer, and the other two more recently. Actually, an article in a magazine enticed us to make the drive to Quinte Isle to visit the PE Point Bird Observatory. In looking around the area from satellite, I saw that it was on the PEPNWA right on the tip of Quinte Isle’s Long Point.
I’ll tell you about the Little Bluff CA first, as it’s the reason why this review has been two years in the making. Last Summer, we decided to make a project out of the Quinte Conservation Authority and tour all their listed sites. We got as far as Little Bluff CA, where we had a very disappointing day, and went Home without checking out the PEPNWA. Little Bluff CA is not much more than a small beach of oddly coin shaped pebbles, at the bottom of a steep hill that was difficult to find, and wasn’t very interesting once we did find it.
Then, we tried to follow a “trail” to the West of the beach, into the CA, which eventually wandered into an unmarked meadow with no particular redeeming features. We eventually fought our way through a wire fence to get out to the road, back to the car, and outa there. Sure, the view of the lake is lovely, but that can be appreciated from many other places without the aggravation nor distance to travel.
So, that autumn we returned as we read about the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory. It was mildly interesting as we walked the John Rymes Memorial Trail. This trail has side trails that have suspended ultra-fine netting to ensnare birds for the observatory records. The wife and I began walking the trail and came across the first side-trail where we saw a bird caught in the netting. As I wondered how often the nets are checked, I heard voices right behind us. Within seconds a young lady appeared to gather the bird. Again, as we walked back, we encountered another staffer checking the nets. So I’m guessing the birds aren’t tangled for very long.
I assumed the bird observatory was Federally supported, but it’s not. So there’s no interpretive centre, no professional experts, no tour-guides. There’s just the volunteers, and I kinda felt ” in the way”. So we left the PEPtBO and took a look around the rest of the wildlife area. This is a point of land sticking out into the water. The shoreline is cracked limestone slabs or the aforementioned coin shaped pebbly “beaches”.
But it’s the plant life that caught my attention. With very few exceptions, the trees are scrub cedars, and rarely much more than twelve feet tall. The exceptions were, one of the largest willows and largest oaks I’ve ever seen. As well, we spotted wild rose hips the size of crabapples. We also saw the biggest and most intensely coloured sulphur butterfly I’d ever seen too. I would describe the landscape as desolate, and windblown, compared to the tall timber territory I’m accustomed to wandering through. So, I’m not saying it was unpleasant, it was in fact alluring to me. Especially when I consider it’s only two hours cruise from my front door. I was fascinated how the natural landscape could be so different, so close to Home.
The Final Take
Please don’t interpret my description of the PEPt Bird Observatory personnel as insulting. They are volunteers with a job they want to get done right. Tour hosts they are not, nor should they be. Having said that, I can’t say as the observatory was terribly interesting anyway. If you can see the nets in the pictures, well, that’s about as interesting as it gets. If you’re a birder, perhaps the National Wildlife Area it’s in, might be worthwhile.
As for the Little Bluffs CA, it has an interesting (albeit difficult to find and get to, once found) beach. As well, a “trail” that vanishes once it leaves the bluff over-looking the water.
I won’t say I regret visiting this area, but I will most certainly not return. It just isn’t worth the drive.