Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Nova Scotia 1: Bay of Fundy

When we decided to go to Nova Scotia for a mid-summer vacation, I had visions of all kinds of north Atlantic birds dancing through my head. I would see new gulls, terns, pelagic birds, shorebirds; it would be bird heaven. And then I realized that many of these birds head to the Far North for the summer and that many others of these birds spend most of their time away from seashore. How would I have a chance to see any of these birds?

I considered my options and decided that a whale-watching tour in the Bay of Fundy would be a good bet. This turned out to be a challenge in and off itself. The tour of choice was one out of Brier Island, which is somewhat out of the way even by Nova Scotia standards. From our cottage on the South Shore, we drove 2.5 hrs to East Ferry, where we waited for 30 minutes for a ferry to Long Island, drove another 40 minutes to the second ferry to Brier Island. We were now at the far southern tip of the island groups that stick out into the Bay of Fundy, where the whale watching boat would take us out away from shore. After a quick bite of lunch, we all loaded onto the boat and headed south of Brier Island. It was a beautiful day and the water was almost flat.
Leaving Brier Island for the Bay of Fundy
On our way out, we saw a large number of Double-crested Cormorants (no obvious Great ones present) and a bunch of gulls, both Herring and Black-backed ones. I started scanning the horizon for any flying birds.

Looking for birds on the Bay of Fundy
There really wasn't much out there flying so I enlisted the help of the boys to keep a look out. Of course they were more interested in other marine life and stopped 'helping' me after a while.

While not a bird, we did see three whales. They were big and would occasionally dive under the water.

Whale in the Bay of Fundy
While everyone else was watching the whales, this guy stopped by for a couple of minutes.

Greater Shearwater on the Bay of Fundy
The trip did prove to be fruitful as I managed to see a few pelagic birds. There were several Greater Shearwaters and off in the distance Northern Gannets were seen diving. An Atlantic Puffin and a Sooty Shearwater flew by and I briefly saw a Wilson's Storm-Petrel. While not the pelagic bird utopia I was hoping for, this was a good day of pelagic birding. These are birds I would never see at home.

Zonked out from all of the birding

Over all it was a good day, though I do wish it was an actual birding trip as I probably missed out on some pelagic birds. During the trip, there were a few unidentifiable birds that flew by but hey these were birds I have never seen before. With a bit of chum in the water and boat of interested and knowledgeable birders to help, who knows what we could have seen?

Great Black-Backed Gull welcomed us back to port

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