Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Not a bird to see in the seabird sanctuary

On Sunday Dean and I paddled from Tors Cove to LaManche where we stopped for lunch.  We got back in the boats before the chill soaked into our bones.  We decided to paddle outside of the islands of the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve rather than retrace our route along the shore to Tors Cove.  Here, we're headed for Great Island.

A short 2.5 km crossing saw us on the outside of Great Island looking down into an open channel through the easterly dipping sedimentary beds.  The Reserve is home to the largest Atlantic Puffin colony in North America.  Some 260,000 pairs nest in the Reserve during late spring and summer.

A bit of swell was running in from the southeast but nothing that kept us from getting through the channel.

We emerged on the other side.  In addition to the colony of Atlantic Puffins, the Reserve also hosts the second-largest (after Baccalieu Island Ecological Reserve) (also in Newfoundland) Leach's storm-petrel colony in the world-more than 620,000 pairs come here to nest.

Another short crossing saw us reach Ship Island.  Dean and I were out here alone when ...

 ... at the right time of year there'd be birds buzzing all around us.  Thousands upon thousands flying about making lots of noise.  In July last year we we out here looking for whales and we saw a few but the highlight of the day were the birds.  Check out a sort video of the birds I took on that paddle.  A world of difference today.  Seabirds generally spend most of the year at sea and only return to land from May to August to breed and raise their young.  While we were in their summer home, they had gone south to spend the winter on the warmer waters of the Gulf Stream passing just south of the Grand Banks.

Another short crossing to Fox Island saw us at the north entrance to Tors Cove; the dark Fox Island standing out against the snow covered hills on the mainland beyond.

And, here are the breadcrumbs.  Only Dean was able to make it on Sunday.  The rest of the guys had other commitments or maybe they had the sooners (sooner do something else?).  Myself, I was glad to finally get a bit further away from home, to a place I haven't been in a while.

We stopped for coffee to bask in the afterglow of the paddle before driving the 30 kms home.

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