Of the handful of fens I have visited so far, Petrel Point is without a doubt my favourite. There is just something about it. It’s unassuming. There is little fanfare — no parking lot, information kiosks, or public bathrooms. You simply turn off of the main road and it appears quite suddenly on either side of a thinner dirt road looking like little more than a marsh. There is a sign, but still… if you didn’t know how special this place is, you’d pass by it without a thought.
Like all of the fens I have visited, it has a boardwalk (or several as-is the case here) to protect the plants from foot traffic. However, the boardwalks provided at the other fens were wide and went in a singular, fairly straightforward direction. The boardwalks here are winding, branching off into all sorts of pathways that lead in twists and turns and even romp through the forest. The walkways are thin, so thin that when we came upon another group (the same group we met at Oliphant) it was quite a dance to figure out how to pass one another without falling in. It did not help that the old boardwalk is also quite rickety, like one of those obstacle courses for kids that you see in amusement parks. In North America there tends to be an overprotectiveness around public parks, a heightened fear that someone will get hurt and subsequently sue. As a result, there are always ample railings and fretful warning signs with a harsh paternal tone that point out obvious dangers. My personal favourite was a sign I saw at the zoo cautioning against touching a large bronze statue on a sunny day because it may be hot. No guff. I tend to take it for granted that all places (in North America, it’s not like this elsewhere) will be like this and am taken by surprise when I happen upon the few that aren’t.
It is these quirks that made me fall in love with the Petrel Point fen. That and the sundews which were in abundance. It didn’t take me long to find them and once I did I was ecstatic! Even better, they were a different species (Drosera rotundifolia) than the one I had seen at Singing Sands ten years ago!
This fen was much wetter than the Oliphant Fen and I wonder if that is one factor that accounts for the high population here, while there were none there.
Unfortunately, it started to rain while we were there so we decided to leave early. As a result we were unable to venture further down the road towards the lake or see one final conservation area that I had on my list. I intend to go back once more this year after the Northern Pitcher Plants have bloomed. Their dead flowers look like strange satellites hovering over the fen.