Saturday, July 7
Although last evening’s foggy conditions on the Sydney, Nova Scotia – Argentia, Newfoundland ferry were not conducive to seabird-watching, our compact cabins were convenient and comfortable. Ray’s wife Agnes was to pick us up at the ferry terminal but foggy conditions at the St. John’s airport prevented her plane from landing. She flew from Toronto to Gander to Montreal to Toronto in the space of 12 hours. Revised plans have her landing this evening on a plane from Halifax.
|Our first views of the Newfoundland coast near Argentia|
Once more we meet local fine birder Anne Hughes who takes us to
to view the
reported shearwater flight. But this site close to Cape
Spear is completely fogged in, and we
don’t even get out of our vehicles. Anne then guides us to the birdy yard of
her friends Catherine and Paul, where we spot over 15 species in a short time,
including our only good views of Evening and Pine Grosbeaks for this trip. St. John’s
Ray meets us in the morning with my long lost binoculars in hand (because Agnes’s flight was rerouted through Halifax, Rob picked up the binoculars I left in Truro and gave them to Agnes at the airport). We then meet Anne at the Memorial University Botanical Garden for a pleasant walk in light rain. After a Tim Hortons stop we head south down the Avalon Peninsula coast, past the famed Bay Bulls and
. In partial fog at
Burnt Cove we manage to see Common Murres, Atlantic Puffins, several Great
Shearwaters close to shore and a single Razorbill. At Witless
the fog parts in time to allow us views of nesting Northern Fulmars. Ship Island
|Mike's first taste of poutine|
At Ferryland we admire a wheeling, diving cloud of gannets, shearwaters and gulls feeding on a school of capelin.
|Northern Gannets and Black-legged Kittiwakes|
at Anne’s home we share a fine
supper, including both steak and ice cream – hard to beat that! It has been a
delightful day. St. John’s
Monday, July 9
Ray’s wife Agnes accompanies us as we travel with Anne to Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve. Fog is the norm here, and we can see no birds as we walk about a kilometer to the
“viewing” site. Bird
|Walking to Bird Rock, Cape St. Mary's|
However the never-ending racket from the Northern Gannets lets us know they are present, and gradually the fog dissipates and we’re able to see them. The folks at the visitors’ centre tell us that about 15,000 breeding pairs are present on the
Cape, many with chicks.
|Nesting Northern Gannets on Bird Rock|
Also here are thousands of Black-legged Kittiwakes and a handful of Great Cormorants. As the fog slowly lifted, patient searching by Anne and Brian finally results in our seeing several Thick-billed Murres through our scopes, with a minimum danger of anyone slipping over the cliff edge.
|Anne perched on the edge scanning the cliffs across from us|
|Kittiwakes and murres|
|Thick-billed Murres (centre) with Black-legged Kittiwakes and Common Murres|
|Cape St. Mary's|