A transplanted Southern Californian living in North Dakota Idaho, with some insights on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Puffins and Other Birds in Newfoundland, Canada

This is our last post in a three part series with pictures and stories from our trip to Newfoundland, Candaa.  You've already ready had the pleasure of seeing the incredible sights of the City of St John's, Newfoundland and some of the National Parks and other cool stuff.  Now we're going to don our bird nerd caps and show some pictures of the birds we saw in Newfoundland. 
On our hike around Signal Hill we saw signs indicating that it was a bald eagle nesting area, and after coming to a small clearing, we saw the nest below.  We see bald eagles regularly in Grand Forks, North Dakota, and we've seen a nest before.  But we've never seen a bald eagle nest from above, let alone with two chicks in it.  It was a very unusual vantage that was pretty darn cool. 
We drove to Elliston, "The Root Cellar Capital of the World", not just for the root cellars, but also for the puffins.  There was supposed to be a puffin viewing area.  This sweet puffin painted pawn chair marked the spot of the puffin viewing area. 
The puffin viewing area was a hike to a narrow grassy cliff, and across a small chasm was the large rock that the puffins were nesting on.  There were a good number of puffins, but also some gulls, kittiewakes, and a few black guillemots.
Puffins nest on large rocks that are separated from the mainland so as to avoid land predators like foxes.  But they also create burrows a few feet underground to lay their eggs, so they need a large rock with some topsoil on top of for nesting, it's a pretty specific set of site requirements.

We sat and watched the puffins for an hour or so, they were very entertaining.  Their wings seemed too stumpy to fly and their complete lack of grace while landing was very funny to observe.  Instead of alighting delicately on the ground, they just got within a few feet of their target and seemed to flop down in a heap.  The puffins were probably the most ungraceful bird I've ever watched, it was awesome.
Alycia was feeling so happy about her puffin watching that we took some glamor-style photos with the puffin nesting area in the background.  It was a lovely day, sunny in the mid 60's, a pretty good day for a glamor shot.  Alycia also quickly decided that puffins were her new favorite bird.  She realized after watching the puffins for a while that they were the Shaak Ti's of the bird world.  The were very pretty, but not too coordinated and looked hilariously clumsy at times. 
We took another day trip to Cape St. Mary's, which on the southern end of one of the eastern peninsulas on Newfoundland.  Cape St. Mary's is a lighthouse (of course) and a huge seabird preserve. 
The hiking path out to see the seabird nesting area was a mile or so through a sheep pasture.  There were a lot of sheep, and a LOT of sheep poop.  We did our best to side step the poop, but we still had filthy shoes when we got back to the car.  This mama sheep and two kids were sitting right in the middle of the trail and had zero interest in moving, so we gently moseyed around them. 
The seabird nesting area was one incredible sight.  The ranger at the interpretive center estimated that there were 70,000 nesting birds in the area.  The cliffs were jam packed with nesting birds, seemingly every inch was occupied.
The white and black birds are Northern Gannets, further down the cliffs were Common Murres, Thick-Billed Murres, Razorbills, and Black-Legged Kittiewakes.  There were displays and diagrams noting the stratification where each of the birds species nested on the cliffs, starting from the top and going all the way to the waterline. 
You can zoom in and look closer, but just about every white or dark speck is a nesting bird. 
This wraps up our tour of the great province of Newfoundland.  It was an interesting place, great food, very friendly people, and incredible scenery.  It might not be for a few years but we'll definitely go back at some point, there are some other great things that we'd like to see. 

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