By Paul Jones
Brant, Charwell Point, Prince Edward County, May 21, 2021 (Photo: Paul Jones)
Charwell Point falls within the Point Petre Wildlife Conservation Area, and Prince Edward County’s South Shore Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA). The south shore IBA is part of a larger program to conserve and monitor sites that provide essential habitat for Canada’s bird populations. In addition to bird life, Charwell also hosts a wide array of other interesting and rare plant and animal species. The discovery of the location as a rest and refuelling stop for migrating shorebirds further underlines the importance of its IBA and conservation status; and indicates additional study and protection efforts are warranted.
From mid-morning on, the point is subject to at times heavy shoreline ATV traffic, activity that disturbs resting birds and damages habitat. On May 22, 23, and 24, 2021 campers and their vehicles were present overnight in the tip area and on the beach just east of the point, behaviour not permitted in the Point.
Petre Wildlife Conservation Area. From late fall to early winter the point is a popular waterfowl hunting site, part of a long tradition in The County. In the spring the beach is littered with spent shotgun shells
and the detritus of duck blinds cut from shoreline vegetation.
Efforts to publicize Charwell Point as a birding location will help diversify the range of outdoor activities that occur at the location, and provide a wider base of support for the protection of this special place.
Charwell Point, Prince Edward County (Photo: Paul Jones)
Location and Access
Charwell Point juts into Lake Ontario from Prince Edward County’s southern shore, twenty kilometres from Prince Edward Point to the east, and five kilometres from Point Petre to the west. The location has long been recognized as a good general birding site (“Best Places to Bird in Ontario” 2019, Kenneth and Michael Burrell). As the most prominent feature on the otherwise gently curving southern shore, Charwell is fairly easy to pick out on a map. However, as one of the remotest locations in The County, access to the area requires a bit of work.
The quickest route is via Charwell Point Road, an extremely rough track running south off Army Reserve Road about one kilometre west of its junction with Dainard Road (Dainard runs south off Royal Road 2.25 kilometres from its junction with CR10 to the east, or 5.15 kilometres from CR24 to the west). Once you have found Charwell Point Road, travel it carefully 1.6 kilometres to a sharp right turn to the west. Continue west 650 metres from the turn and look for the, parking spot on the left, and a (sometimes flooded) trail that leads 250 metres south to Lake Ontario. Upon reaching the lake, walk west along the beach one kilometre to the tip of the point. Charwell Point Road continues past this access route and dead ends at a wetland called Gull Pond. Depending on water levels, it is possible to ford the pond and reach the base of Charwell Point, but the route discussed above is a far more reliable option.
Note - Charwell Point Road is very bumpy and is best attempted in a vehicle with high ground clearance, and by a driver tolerant of scratched paint on their vehicle (thick brush encroaches heavily at the road edge). While some off road-capability is preferred, people have made it through in ordinary passenger cars. Rather than risk driving, many visitors park at the junction of Army Reserve and Charwell Point Road and walk south to the shore (a 6.5 kilometre round trip). A hybrid approach is to drive the more manageable first 750 metres, park at the obvious gravel pullout on the right (look for the dumped car seats) and continue the rest of the way on foot. A last option is to turn right (west) at the car seats and continue on the gravel road southwest approximately one kilometre past one clearing to an even larger clearing. At the big clearing the road continues west, but take the track that winds southeast 525 metres (follow the left fork at 360 metres) to Charwell Point Road. Proceed west (right) about 100 metres along Charwell Point Road and you will see the parking spot and shoreline access trail described above. The advantages of this route are that it is not as bumpy and has far less paint-scratching vegetation. The disadvantage is that it can be impassably flooded.
Caution - Charwell Point is a remote and often lonely location. If you plan to visit, it would be best to inform people of your itinerary, and travel with at least one other person. High rubber boots are a necessity in early spring, and advisable at all other times of year. Water levels in the lake and surrounding wetlands can vary greatly. The shoreline itself is subject to dramatic storm-related alteration, with shifting beaches and downed trees affecting access. In the spring of 2020 high lake levels presented a particular challenge. In 2021, with water levels lower, reaching the point was easier.
 Prince Edward County South Shore Important Bird and Biodiversity Area
 McKay-Kuja, S.M. et al (2018) 2018 Prince Edward County Field Naturalists BioBlitz at the Charwell Point Area of the Point Petre Provincial Wildlife Area, Prince Edward County, Ontario https://peptbo.ca/photos/custom/PDFs/2018CHARWELLBIOBLITZReport.pdf
 43°51'39.9"N 77°05'28.6"W.
List of Passage Shorebirds at Charwell Point, Prince Edward County, Spring 2021
April 27 – 4 Greater Yellowlegs
May 15 – 1 Lesser Yellowlegs, 3 Least Sandpiper
May 16 – 2 Lesser Yellowlegs, 2 Least Sandpiper
May 17 – 1 Solitary Sandpiper, 1 Least Sandpiper
May 19 – 1 Greater Yellowlegs, 1 Lesser Yellowlegs, 1 Least Sandpiper
May 20 – 1 Lesser Yellowlegs, 3 Least Sandpiper
May 21 – 1 Lesser Yellowlegs, 1 Sanderling, 6 Dunlin, 1 Least Sandpiper
May 22 – 160 Dunlin, 2 Least Sandpiper, 2 Semipalmated Sandpiper
May 23 – 6 Least Sandpiper
May 24 – 1 Least Sandpiper
May 25 – 178 Whimbrel, 1 Sanderling
May 26 – 1 Whimbrel, 54 Sanderling, 1 Dunlin, 1 Semipalmated Sandpiper, I Red-necked Phalarope
May 27 – 121 Whimbrel, 25 Dunlin, 1 Least Sandpiper, 1 Short-billed Dowitcher
May 28 – 1 Black-bellied Plover, 1 Dunlin
May 29 – 4 Black-bellied Plover, 2 Semipalmated Plover, 1 Ruddy Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, 2 Semipalmated Sandpiper
May 30 – 1 Black-bellied Plover, 1 Semipalmated Plover
June 1 – 36 Black-bellied Plover, 4 Whimbrel, 114 Ruddy Turnstone, 22 Red Knot, 30 Sanderling, 110 Dunlin, 4 Semipalmated Sandpiper
June 2 – 1 Ruddy Turnstone, 4 Semipalmated Sandpiper, 1 Short-billed Dowitcher
June 3 – 1 Semipalmated Plover, 20 Ruddy Turnstone, 15 Sanderling, 150 Semipalmated Sandpiper
June 4 – 1 Black-bellied Plover
June 5 – 20 Semipalmated Sandpiper
June 6 – 33 Ruddy Turnstone, 41 Semipalmated Sandpiper
June 7 – 40 Semipalmated Sandpiper
June 8 – 28 Ruddy Turnstone, 86 Semipalmated Sandpiper
June 9 – 2 Semipalmated Sandpiper
June 10 – 1 Semipalmated Plover, 1 Semipalmated Sandpiper
In addition to these passage shorebird species, local nesters Killdeer, Spotted Sandpiper, American Woodcock, and Wilson’s Snipe were present in good numbers at Charwell Point.
List of Passage Shorebirds at Charwell Point, Prince Edward County, Spring 2020
May 11 – 1 Greater Yellowlegs
May 24 – 1 Semipalmated Plover, 3 Least Sandpiper
May 25 – 1 Black-bellied Plover, 1 Piping Plover (colour-banded bird with traceable provenance), 1 Least Sandpiper, 2 Semipalmated Sandpiper
May 28 – 1 Ruddy Turnstone
May 29 – 1 Whimbrel, 60 Ruddy Turnstone, 42 unidentified Shorebird sp.
June 1 – 48 Ruddy Turnstone, 1 Sanderling, 3 Semipalmated Sandpiper
June 2 – 1 Ruddy Turnstone, 34 Sanderling, 4 Dunlin, 156 Semipalmated Sandpiper
June 3 – 1 Dunlin, 9 Semipalmated Sandpiper
June 4 – 23 Ruddy Turnstone (including a colour-banded bird with traceable provenance), 9 Semipalmated Sandpiper
June 6 – 35 Sanderling, 25 unidentified Shorebird sp.
June 7 – 3 Semipalmated Sandpiper
June 8 – 3 Semipalmated Sandpiper
In addition to these passage shorebird species, local nesters Killdeer, Spotted Sandpiper, American Woodcock, and Wilson’s Snipe were present in good numbers at Charwell Point
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