A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on September 24, 2014 unveiling the migratory bird lookout platform and the interpretative signage at Fifty Point Conservation Area. Similar panels were also installed at the existing Lakeland Lookout platform at Confederation Park. This two year project was made possible as a result of funding provided by HIEA.
It is expected that over 400,000 people per year will become more aware of this globally significant ecological site as a result of the signage and platform.
The West End of Lake Ontario was designated an Important Bird Area (IBA) because it regularly supports globally significant numbers of several duck species from fall through spring. These include Greater Scaup, Long-tailed Ducks, Common Goldeneyes, and Red-breasted Mergansers. White-winged Scoters and Red-necked Grebes regularly occur in continentally significant numbers and in some years at globally significant levels.
Bruce Mackenzie, a recently retired senior manager at the Hamilton Conservation Authority who helped spearhead the project, said the platform will be great for viewing birds year round, but November and December are a particular treat. "The ducks fly by here in the thousands,” he said. "Right now many birds from the Arctic are migrating through this area and bird watchers take great pleasure in finding the long-tailed jaegers, the pomarine jaegers, Sabine gulls and kittiwakes. These are birds that are very, very difficult to find anywhere in Ontario."
The Fifty Point Conservation Area is in the heart of the West End of Lake Ontario IBA. With a combination of several habitats – lake, pond, field, and forest – this small area is one of the premier spots in Ontario to see an amazing array of birds. The shore of Lake Ontario also helps to concentrate many migrating birds here. Fifty Point juts out almost 1.5 km beyond the adjacent shoreline. Birds following the shoreline are pushed out along the point, while those flying offshore often come quite close. The point’s elevation helps observers get great views of ducks, gulls, shorebirds, and other birds flying by on the lake. The best time to watch for migrating waterbirds is in the fall. When north winds are blowing, birds are pushed close to shore, flying around the point at very close range. From their viewing scope, birders can track down birds that can be four or five kilometres off Lake Ontario’s shoreline.