TTOR Pond Club Walk
We could not have asked for a better day to join Sarah Mello-Trudel of The Trustees of Reservations (TTOR) as she led us across the sand plains at Long Point Wildlife Refuge, regaling us with tales of the Tisbury Pond Club. The club was established in the early 1900's by wealthy businessmen from Boston and beyond, whose members came to the Vineyard to shoot waterfowl on Tisbury Great Pond. When the Club closed in the early 1960s, the remaining members donated their 600-acre property to The Trustees.
Ms. Mello-Trudel, TTOR's education and interpretation coordinator, first ushered the 20-plus walkers last Sunday into the visitor's center where a variety of artifacts donated by the club - stuffed waterfowl, decoys, hunting gear, and log books - can be viewed by the public. Then we took to the trails under blue skies and unseasonably warm temperatures freshened by an offshore breeze. Ms. Mello-Trudel showed us one of the submerged blinds built by the duck hunters, and pointed out the location where elevated and above-ground blinds once stood. We saw where their "pet" Canada geese were housed. They were used as live decoys and were fed and sheltered, until they were tethered along the edge of the pond to lure their wild brethren.
The club members kept meticulous records of their hunting days. Not only do their log books record the waterfowl taken, by species, they have an entry dated February 1932 of a Heath Hen sighting, the last known sighting of the now extinct bird.
TTOR now has an active management plan for the property. Through selective clearing, controlled burns and girdling trees they hope to recreate the habitat of 100 years ago and encourage the return of many rare wildlife species. But they can't return the shoreline to its 1900 location. "The ocean is moving northward [inland] by 10 feet a year," said Sarah, "not only at Long Point but all along the Vineyard's south shore."
As we headed back to the barn, Ms. Mello-Trudel showed us the most recent addition, a wildlife viewing blind that looks out onto Long Cove Pond. She encouraged us to come back often and enjoy this special property that encompasses beach, woodland and sand plain heath, a treasure for nature lovers of all types.