Friday, July 24, 2015

South Wolf Island

Bioblitz Weekend

Recently a team went to South Wolf Island in the Bay of Fundy to survey the plant and bird populations.  The island is about 300 acres in size and is uninhabited.  The only human footprint there is an automated lighthouse on the southern end.  The rest of the island is rugged rock, forest, and meadow.  We set up camp on the northern end where there was a cobble beach fit for landing.

The environment there is pristine.  The air is pure and there are no sounds except for the birds and waves crashing on the beach.  The exceptions to this paradise are the Grand Manan ferry which wends its way by regularly and the human garbage washed up on the beaches.  This is mostly fishing paraphernalia and plastics of various sorts.  The garbage really is appalling.  There is so much of it one wonders how much there must be in the worldwide oceans.

The birds were very much in evidence.  Most were nesting; Herring Gulls, Great Black-backed Gulls, Black Guillemots, Common Eiders.  We also saw Great Blue Heron, Bald Eagle, Spotted Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Puffin, Whimbrel, Razorbill, Savannah Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Common Yellowthroat, Black-throated Green Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Golden-crowned Kinglet.  The island appeared to be one of the important nesting areas for the Black Guillemot.  Whenever we were near shore they saw them, waiting just offshore with food in their beaks to feed young hidden in rock crevices.
Black Guillemot
 We saw Common Eiders with young.  They seemed to like to be near shore.  This was probably so the young could get out of the water to rest.

Common Eiders with Young
The island provided many beautiful photo opportunities.

We did a thorough plant survey.  We did find some interesting plants.  The island is covered mainly with spruce forest, mainly white spruce but also red and black.  Roseroot seen below was found in several places in rock crevices.  It is found only in the Bay of Fundy area.

Roseroot Rhodiola rosea
Woodland Strawberry in an uncommon strawberry.  It grows in calcareous, rocky areas from B.C. to Newfoundland.  We found it in a rock crevice.

Woodland Strawberry Fragaria vesca
We looked hard for orchids and found one abundantly growing in one part of the island, Platanthera obtusata.  We found it as described in Hinds book, "in full shade beneath cedar or other conifers".

Blunt-leaf Rein Orchid Platanthera obtusata
In one bay there were many seals hauled out sunning themselves.  It was interesting to watch them jostle for preferred spaces.

Another of the many vistas we enjoyed.

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