Beautiful landscapes abound in every direction as we travel into the numerous peninsulas of this large rugged Island of Newfoundland. We found the wildlife and the people to be as varied as the landscapes. Each area seemed to be founded and inhabited by European nationalities. There was the Irish Loop, the Viking Trail, the French fishing villages, plus the Scotch, Dutch, English and Portuguese. All claimed a piece of this New Found Land.
Upon closer examination we found the diverse habitats teeming with abundant wildlife. Every pond, stream and lake showed signs of beaver activity which included this cooperative and industrious pair. He became very "talkative" (mewing sounds) when his female counterpart joined him for a birch twig snack.
Many of the sheer cliff faces and rocky haystack islands were colonized by Atlantic Puffins, N. Gannets, Common & Thick-billed Murres, Razorbills, Black Guillemots, Black-legged Kittiwakes and numerous other nesting seabirds. What made this experience so incredible was the proximity and eye-level viewing. We visited three different Puffin colonies, one at Cape Bonavista, five nesting islands at Elliston harboring 10,000 pairs, and Witless Bay Ecological Reserve with many thousand flying like swarms of bees over the islands and water. Some Puffins were excavating burrows in the soft peat, some flying in with fish for their young, some fighting, while others posed for the camera like these pictured.
Cape St. Mary's Ecological Reserve on the Avalon Peninsula exhibited a phenomenal colony of sea birds distributed apartment-like on the steep 900 foot high cliffs. At the top were 24,000 pairs of N. Gannets with big fluffy chicks (pictured), below in layers were ten thousand pairs of Com. Murres, 10,000 pairs of Black-legged Kittiwakes and additional seabird species. (No we did not count them but the biologists did). This coastline is shrouded in dense fog 28 days a month. However this day we were blessed with sunshine and blue skies affording spectacular views.
The cacophony of calling Gannets, bill clacking, mock bill sword fighting, mutual preening and chick feeding filled the air with both deafening sound and the rich aroma of fishy guano making for an over-whelming and unforgettable experience. Other birds of interest included: 17 fly-over Whimbrels, numerous Shearwaters, the best a Cory's which was a new life bird for us.
Certainly one of our memorable Newfoundland experiences was spending an pleasant afternoon visiting with Neil & Jan Payne (parents of Mark Payne, Wildlife Sanctuary Ranger). From the porch of their lovely summer home in Campbellton we saw and heard a Minke Whale on the calm waters of Notre Dame Bay.
Our journey here is nearing an end as we head to the Ferry Dock for our return to Nova Scotia.
A fond farewell to Newfoundland, Canada
Ty & Ida Baumann