Fundy Bird Observatory. Summer/fall 1999. Vol. 6 No. 2
Change is on the wind at Long Eddy Point
Well, here goes nothing, and you read it here first. After much soul-searching and inward contemplation, I have decided to make the effort to purchase the former lightkeeper’s residence at Long Eddy Point. This follows a successful fall pilot migration monitoring project there from late August through late October (see next article for more details). Suffice to say that the volume and variety of migrants, while not high, was found to be sufficient to justify a more permanent presence at the site. Accordingly, I can now officially announce the launching of the Long Eddy Capital Fund campaign. The object of this campaign will be to raise between $50,000 & $100,000. A rather tall order for sure, but not out of the question.
I have identified some 15 possible funding organizations, about equally split between private and corporate foundations. Sometime between now and the fall of 2000 I will approach each with requests for anywhere between $2500 and $10,000. My goal is to raise $50,000 to $75,000 from these sources, plus another $10,000 to $25,000 from private individuals. When the Long Eddy property comes on the open market, likely in October, I will take what money is in the Long Eddy Capital Fund at that time and make an offer to purchase. However, before this can take place, the property must first be offered to other federal government departments by the current landlords, Transport Canada. If no other federal department wants it, it will then be offered to the Province of New Brunswick, and finally to the Village of Grand Manan. If each in turn refuse, the property will then be listed with a realtor on the open market.
So, there is the very real possibility that the property will never reach the final stage — availability to the public. Even if and when it does, there is no guarantee the FUNDY BIRD OBSERVATORY will not be out-bidden. I’ll be the first to admit this is a long-shot at best. Our chances of actually owning the property in a year’s time are slim, but certainly, this is no reason not to try. And besides, I have a back-up plan. Should we be unsuccessful in our attempts to procure the Long Eddy site as a permanent headquarters for the FBO, we will use what money we have to build a modern bird-banding laboratory somewhere on Grand Manan. At this time, my first choice for a location would be at Long Pond, on property owned by the Province of New Brunswick, but designated as the Grand Manan Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Hopefully, some kind of lease or conservation easement could be negotiated with the province that would allow the FUNDY BIRD OBSERVATORY to carry out banding there for a period of at least 25 years. It is unlikely the province would cede outright ownership of an appropriate two to three-acre parcel bordering on Long Pond; so a modest leasing arrangement seems indicated.
However, I’m getting ahead of myself here. For the next six months I’m going to have my work cut out for me filling out funding applications. In the meantime I would like to invite all friends and previous supporters of the FUNDY BIRD OBSERVATORY to help get the Long Eddy Capital Fund off the ground. On the inside back cover you will find a donation form for this purpose. As always, all who donate will be given an official tax receipt by our sponsor, the Grand Manan Whale & Seabird Research Station. In addition, all who contribute $100 or more will have their names placed on a commemorative plaque, to be prominently displayed either at Long Eddy or Long Pond, whichever option works out. So there you have it. We’re going for the gold! And I am fully confident that a goal of $25,000 in private donations toward the Long Eddy Capital Fund is well within our grasp. As always, my sincere thanks to all the friends of the FBO who have supported my efforts to this point -- and into the new Millennium!
>Brian Dalzell (April 13, 2000)
thing I want to make very clear at the outset is that approximately 10
per cent of monies raised from this campaign will be appropriated for administration
costs, mainly for production/distribution of this newsletter, as well as
the first two titles in the Fundy Bird Observatory’s new Natural History
The season officially began on August 17th just before sunrise, when three stalwart banders arrived at Long Eddy Point to unfurl the six mist nets previously deployed in cleverly-contrived locations. Our intent? To demonstrate that Long Eddy was an important transit (but not a holding) area for migrating birds arriving from the mainland after sunrise. When the season ended on October 30th, I had a pretty good idea how to answer that question. But not when I started. Long Eddy, for those who have never seen it, is that part of Grand Manan that drops abruptly back into the cold north Atlantic at the northernmost tip of the main island. It is very popular with locals and visitors alike, who gravitate there to watch the minke whales feeding just offshore in the tide rips, catch the sunset, or maybe down a quick beer or two. However, I can report that all my banding assistants, as well as the bander-in-charge, remained quite sober during the entire period, but had a grand time nonetheless, entertained as we were, by the migrating wild song birds in their glory all about us.
Of course, there were all kinds of birds, but we were mainly interested in the little fellows, the sparrows, finches, flycatchers, warblers and on up to blue jay and flicker in size (but no larger please!). Catching, and especially removing six flickers from a net designed for thrush-size birds can be a demanding task, but it was ably addressed. And how much does a flicker weigh? Glad you asked, because I just happen to have weighed 38 of the hundreds that passed through Long Eddy Point from late September thru early October. Average weight was around 135 grams -- about five ounces.
Doesn’t seem like much, but when you’ve got two pounds of ‘em, bagged, waiting on the wall behind you, and one starts wailing.... Well then, they all start in. And I truly believe the flicker has been blessed with one of the shrillest voices in the bird world, likely in order to stun (sonically) closely-pursuing hawks, in order to gain that all-valuable fraction of a second that allows for escape and survival another day. And true to their nature, the flickers that poured up the west side of Grand Manan and past Long Eddy Point after crossing from Maine were slow, loud and gaudy, but they were in the extreme. Most of the birds banded during our 10 weeks at the point were shy and retiring -- in the sparrow size range. In fact, if you like lists, here is one showing the commonest of the 68 species and 728 individual birds we eventually banded:
You will notice the most
commonly encountered bird in our mist nets was the white-throated sparrow.
Large numbers of locally-raised birds were present when we arrived in late
August and early September, but most had drifted away by mid-September,
just about the time southbound kin started arriving from further north
and east of Grand Manan. Long Eddy is brushy in spots, so often held
migrant sparrows for a few days. On the other hand, we found that
warblers did not linger long, but instead, were always passing through,
never staying in the banding area longer than a minute or two. This
is good, because the kind of monitoring we were doing was aimed at determining
if Long Eddy was a holding, versus a resting area for the birds.
My experience during the fall was that most birds used the point to home
in on when landing from out over the Grand Manan Channel. In effect,
the island serves as a life-ring for birds finding themselves over the
ocean at dawn -- not quite happy with their declining altitude.
In general, it appeared most migrants came over the channel directly
west from Maine (more often than northeast, from the nearby mainland of
New Brunswick). The birds would then stream up the west side of the
island to the very tip of Long Eddy, attempting to return to the mainland
without flying over water, then east around the corner out of sight.
Many were determined to fly right back out to sea again after regaining
their bearings, but a lot did not. Perhaps half the birds landing
there in the morning subsequently take off and fly back to the mainland,
or turn back southwest and continue migrating.
In my humble opinion, it is well worth establishing a permanent migration monitoring station here, but it should (eventually) be run in tandem with a second at Anchorage Park ( or Northern Pond on White Head Island). However, our immediate efforts should be focused on Long Eddy, as the property is scheduled to go on the open market sometime in the fall of 2000. Hopefully by then, the FBO will have raised enough loonies to make a decent offer on the property. It should certainly be preserved as a prime example of a migratory “pitstop”. That is, most birds stopping only long enough to grab a coffee, get their bearings and get out of there. If they did stay, it was in response to our free continental breakfast (white millet), which we used to bait our four-cell Potter Trap. This came in handy on some cool days in October when we had hordes of curious school kids running around and couldn’t safely operate the mist nets due to the cold. The bottom line? Unreduced public access to Long Eddy should be maintained. And the only way I can see that happening is if the property is in the hands of a local non-profit group willing to take it over and maintain it. Sounds a lot like the Fundy Bird Observatory.
Okay, now I’d like to thank all who contributed to the success of the pilot fall migration monitoring project, including my banding interns over the long haul. First came university students Stephanie Grossman and Levi Moore from Waterloo, Ontario, who remained from August 17- Sept 5th, although Steph had to reluctantly pull out in late August due to a family matter at home. Both were eager to learn and they had a grand time staying in the haunted “Zatsman House” at Net Point, which we rented for two months for our volunteers. The roof leaked, but the price was right -- basic accommodations during the height of tourist season on Grand Manan. Yet another reason Long Eddy would be the best site for a banding station -- the former lightkeeper’s residence. It would serve as a dormitory for volunteers, thus enabling them to be on-site 24 hours a day. A real requirement when it comes to monitoring bird migration, which often begins half an hour before dawn. Thanks also to station manager Laurie Murison, who kept a tight reign on finances (see her annual report on page six).
Our third intern of the season was Tamara Enz, who arrived from Maine with a hand-made wooden canoe she had put together herself. After pitching in for 10 days in early September, she was off to canoe down the Hamilton River in Labrador, then to Ontario for some more bird banding. A big help was Alain Clavette from Moncton, who stayed for just over a week in late September when the big flicker and yellow-billed cuckoo rush was on, and filled in for me the first day of the tidal wave of school children on October 3rd. In mid-September I had two volunteers from Fundy National Park; park ecologist Vicki Sahanatien and assistant Jane Watts, who needed banding experience to help run a monitoring project in the park next spring. In early October came the “Zoo Crowd” from Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island: Shareen, Barbara and Gerry -- you know who you are. Now I’m going to end this academy-sized thank you with one for local MLA Eric Allaby, who helped find matching funds for your FBO dollars in the form of a $3900 Job Action grant. This enabled the bander-in-charge to qualify for employment insurance benefits, without which he would surely have frozen to death over the course of the ensuing winter. Word has it he survived and will be around in the fall of 2000 if need be.
Special banded guests who
helped brighten our days were a Baltimore Oriole , a female Eastern Towhee,
a hatch-year Indigo Bunting , an adult Northern Mockingbird, hatch-year
female Pine Warbler, male Blue-winged Warbler and two Yellow-billed Cuckoos. Avian guests who left without a complimentary bracelet
were a male Red-bellied Woodpecker - 30 October, Great-crested Flycatcher
- 28 October, two Field Sparrows - 22 October on, several Dickcissels -
20 August on, two female Blue Grosbeaks - 6 & 19 September, male Northern
Cardinal on 24 August and female on 16 October, single Indigo Buntings
from 1 October, and an Eastern Meadowlark in the long grass with a bum
leg 29-30 October.. The best sighting of the entire season actually
took place long before we arrived. On July 1st, whilst setting up
the banding shack, I was distracted by the song of a male Baltimore
Oriole coming from a nearby grove of mature white birch. I eventually
saw a pair, both with food for young, but I did not find the nest until
the leaves had fallen. A first breeding record for the archipelago! In total 68 species and 728 individuals were banded at Long Eddy
When Shareen Zaki and friends from the Roger Williams Park Zoo visited Grand Manan from Rhode Island two years ago in August, their boss allowed them to use an official zoo vehicle. Boldly painted with encircling black-and-white bands from tip to tail, this was no ordinary van. Everywhere they went on the island, folks couldn’t help but notice the “Zebra Van”. Shareen is the granddaughter of Rev. Martin Grissom and his late wife Grace, who own a summer home at Bancroft Point (since 1955). Her own family once had a summer home in Seal Cove. But the zoo gang was more than happy to bunk at Bancroft’s in the summer of 1997.
At the time, I was engaged
in a study of migrating birds at Anchorage Park, and being keenly interested
in wild critters, Shareen and friends were frequent visitors at my banding
station. Conversely, kids were infrequent visitors, but I always
allowed them to touch the birds. Having witnessed their delighted
reactions, an idea germinated in Shareen’s fertile imagination. Why
not pluck children from the Grand Manan school system (say, Grades K to
6), bus them to the banding site and give them an up-close-and-personal
introduction to wild birds? Later, a follow-up visit could be made
during the school day to each classroom involved, when the children could
learn more about bird migration by playing games or watching a video.
A date of October 4-8th was set, and preparations began. First, parental approval had to be obtained, so a note was sent home with each student explaining about the planned field trip. Then a schedule had to be set up to use school buses to get the kids to Long Eddy Point (The Whistle). There were more details, but it remained for the birds and the weather to cooperate. As it turned out, most of the legwork involved was getting the 45-minute classroom presentation together. On the appointed morning, when the first big yellow school bus came down the hill at The Whistle, I had little idea how things were going to work out. In the end, I need not have worried. The birds stole the show, although they were of course, reluctant participants.
It was a bit colder than we would have liked, but the kids were all bundled up, and their energy levels alone probably raised the temperature a degree or two. It turned out to be too breezy to net birds for the kids to see, but I was able to capture a few for each class with the aid of a Potter Trap, a small wire contraption with four drop-doors, and baited with sunflower seeds. To say they were enthusiastic would be a gross understatement. Most had never seen a chickadee or a blue jay close up, and you could have cut the excitement in the air when -- in turn -- I pulled each bird out of its cloth bag. Every child who wanted got a chance to stroke the birds, and some even mustered enough courage to let a chickadee peck them on the finger.
Although we tried to maintain some kind of order, yours truly got “swarmed” more than once by eager kids intent on seeing the different birds again and again. However, each bird was kept for no more than 10 minutes, then quickly released, which seemed to please the children just as much as viewing them in the hand. Even the teachers, chaperones and bus drivers had a good time. After about 45 minutes, it was back to the school to pick up a second class and do it all over again.
All in all, more than 230 children got to have a real live field trip, get face-to-face with a wild bird or two, and then learn a little more about their lives during the classroom sessions. These were ably done by Zoo employees Shareen and Geraldine, along with teacher Barbara O’Connell. Someone even suggested the island’s 25-odd home-schooled children might be interested in the field demonstration — something we had not even considered. Indeed that was the case, and on Saturday morning the 16th of October, about a dozen arrived at The Whistle.
And they were no less enthusiastic
and/or full of questions about birds than the first 230 students had been.
By all accounts it was a smashing success, and will no doubt be repeated
again in the future. In the meantime, Shareen and friends have returned
to the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island, where they
are fine-tuning the “Banding Together” concept to use with school children
in that state. So, what started on Grand Manan may some day spread
far beyond our little island!
Wayne Sears - "Grand Manan's Bird Man. Days with Allan L. Moses" - available at the Grand Manan Museum
and the following Grand Manan Businesses:
Compass Rose (506) 662-8570 or (613) 692-1781
As well, many thanks to the generous donations of individuals who have supported the Fundy Bird Observatory. Back to top
Page revised Jan 28 2004
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