Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Canadian Nostalgia

A blogging pal of mine David Gascoigne who lives in Ontario recently posted A Day at Long Point,  words and pictures of a visit he made to Long Point Bird Observatory (LPBO), 130 kms south of his home. He kindly mentioned Another Bird Blog in his post, knowing that I visited Long Point some years back (1989 and 1990) when I spent 7 weeks as a bird banding volunteer. 

Since 1960, Long Point Bird Observatory LPBO has operated a research station at the eastern tip of Long Point where scientists study migration (bird, bat and insect) and other aspects of natural history. The observatory opens some of its accommodations to visitors interested in joining in the research, education, and training programs. The point itself is the longest (about 40 km) freshwater sand spit in the world and is the most remote wilderness location in southern Ontario and a Globally Important Bird Area of 400 + species. 

 Long Point, Canada - courtesy of Birds Canada

For David, and as a bout of pure nostalgia on my own behalf I am posting a number of pictures from the two visits. The years 1989 and 1990 were pre-digital cameras and the pictures posted here were taken with slide film and a 35mm Pentax Me Super. After being stored in a cardboard box for many years the slides were eventually transposed via a not very good slide copier into digital images, hence the very poor pictures for which I apologise. However the species encountered and pictured here together with the memories they invoke more than make up for the poor images, although none would pass muster for a present day blog other than this self-indulgent post. 

The pictures were taken at two LPBO field stations, Breakwater and Old Cut. Breakwater is an hour or more boat journey across Lake Erie and about 8km from the observatory base station of Old Cut. The Breakwater station was, and I believe still is, a very small cabin with bunks and mattresses for up to 4 people in one tiny communal bedroom. In April and May it was very cold, even with four bodies crammed into the miniscule space, the occupants sleeping in daytime clothes to ward off the icy nights. We bathed in the great outdoors where the outside toilet overlooking Lake Erie marshes provided a unique place from which to engender a somewhat original bird list. 

Banding at Long Point

Breakwater cabin - Long Point

The working base of Long Point, the Old Cut Research, Education and Training Centre now includes a comfortable house with all the amenities, research laboratories and specimen collection, visitor centre and even the LPBO Shoppe (not in my day). There is a small library, living room, office space, laboratory and 5 bedrooms with bunks. The odds are that visitors will share a bedroom with members of the opposite sex at any of the three field stations. Many a good friendship blossomed at LPBO. 

Below are just some of the species encountered at Long Point, Canada. 


Cerulean Warbler

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Hooded Warbler

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Wilson's Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Yellow-breasted Chat


Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Wood Thrush

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Black and White Warbler

Scarlet Tanager

Red-eyed Vireo

Tennessee Warbler

Baltimore Oriole

Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker

Blue-grey Gnatcatcher

Indigo Bunting

Blackpoll Warbler

Great-horned Owl

pellet - Great-horned Owl

Thanks for jogging my memory David. Should you revisit LPBO again soon I hope you can join in banding that wonderful array of spring warblers. Better still, make sure you get to handle lots of Cardinals and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. 

The flag of Canada

Most of all, please pass on best wishes to my Canadian friends and to Canada. 


David Gascoigne said...

Gee Phil, my eyes are moist as I read this. What a great homage to your time spent here. I am so glad that we have been able to rekindle these memories for you. And what a truly amazing range of species you banded; Cerulean Warbler, for example, has become a real rarity in Ontario and Yellow-breasted Chat verging on mythical. As for me banding there, I think I'll leave it to the young interns who represent the future of our ornithological community. Let them snuggle together in their close confines. We already have plans in place to band some nestling Barn Swallows here, and the progeny of the nest boxes at SpruceHaven if all goes well. My bird banding buddy, Ross Dickson, is about to head out west for an extended period any day now so quite how Involved I will be locally is not yet determined. Thanks again for this very fine job. I have never met you in person, but feel that I know you well, and I am all the better for the experience.

Christian Perrin said...

I enjoyed that, thank you Phil! I lived in Toronto for a brief period a few years ago, but it was before I rekindled my wildlife passion fully. Still, I will always remember seeing my first cardinal and the excitement of a flock of grackles on the back porch in the fall. Nothing as exciting as that great horned owl though, what a marvelous beast that is!

Stuart Price said...

Well you got to ring a few different birds than what you get on the Flylde!

David Gascoigne said...

Hi again Phil. I have forwarded this to Denis LePage who is a senior scientist at Bird Studies Canada and suggested that he might wish to share it with others. You had asked about Jon McCracken so I checked their staff directory and he is still there - his current position is Director of National Programmes.

Linda said...

Your photos are lovely, Phil, and this is such a great post! I live about 5 and a half hours (car drive), one hour (plane ride) from Montreal, Quebec, so this post especially touched me. Thank you so much for sharing.

Margaret Adamson said...

Hi Phil. This is a wonderful post and I am glad it brings back so many good memories for you. I think the photographs half turned out very well. There are so many birds in this post but I have never seen and perhaps when Livorsi so that makes it even more special that you have shared these images with us. Thank you for all the hard work you put in to making this post.

Lowcarb team member said...

It is so good to look back on special times like this. The years pass so quickly it probably only seems like yesterday ...
I was talking to someone recently about my first ever camera my dad bought for me it was a Brownie 127 ... those were the days.
I still think professional photographers prefer to use film, whilst my children and grandchildren use their phones ...
Sorry if I've digressed a little.

Lovely post to read and I'm glad you shared this with your blogging friends.
Enjoy the rest of Thursday

All the best Jan

sandyland said...

I need your camera header exquisite - Canada a treasure trove of all including black squirrels

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Great memories -- I happened to read that post by David and thought what an honor to this amateur it is to "know" two such professional birders. Thank you for sharing your memories -- wonderful birds there.

John Holmes said...

Great in-the-hand birds and an evocative post. The ME Super was my no.1 camera for 20 years!

Kay L. Davies said...

I'm sure you'll never regret trying to get the old slides into new technology, because these photos are wonderful even if they're not perfect.
I don't suppose I'll see many birds when I visit Britain in the autumn of this year, but I know I'm going to meet some wonderful people!

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