Saturday, July 30, 2011

Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve

                     At the southwest tip of the Avalon Peninsula lies Cape St. Mary’s--

 --home of one of the most spectacular and most accessible seabird colonies in North America--


                   -- and one of the best places in the world to see nesting seabirds. 

The air is full of the sight, sound and smell of tens of thousands of birds.

 The main cliff-top viewing area faces a nest-covered sea stack.

  Bird rock and adjacent cliffs are like avian high rise apartment towers.

The ledges, outcrops, overhangs and plateaus offer a variety of accommodations for a variety of birds species. 

    It was foggy and wet today but we had no problem seeing the 11,000 plus nesting pairs of Northern Gannets--

                                        -- 10,000 pairs of Common Murres--

                           -- and 10,000 pairs of black-legged Kittiwake.

                               The path to the cliffs was lined with many meadow flowers.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Avalon Peninsula

After making reservations at the ferry terminal in Argentia, we traveled south along the coast to Placentia in Placentia Bay.
    The French established a fort here in 1662 and this became the first capitol of New France.

The harbor was deep and well protected and the beach was long and well suited for drying and salting the plentiful, nearby cod fish.

The Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 gave this fort to the British and the French went on to establish Fortress Louisbourg in Nova Scotia.

The coast is rocky and rugged with low, wind-swept shrubs.

                                           There are scattered pine trees.

                              This gives way to barren peat bogs and ponds.

                              The roads are pot-holed, roughly patched and cracked.

    We arrived in the town of Branch in time to watch as 21,000 pounds of snow crab were unloaded from a boat into a waiting semitrailer. 

This boat had just returned from a one week trip out to sea in what is considered to be one of the worlds most dangerous jobs. 

Fishing families help each other here, so they all come to the dock to unload the catch and help with the boat.

Tomorrow is the end of the crabbing season and the last two boats will return then, so it will be a busy day.

Provincial fisheries agents accurately weigh and document the catch to make sure limits are not exceeded. 

Government quality control inspectors carefully grade and size random samples of the catch. 

                              We watched their festival talent show--

-- stayed for the night overlooking their harbor--

-- and left after enjoying a traditional Newfie community breakfast of eggs, potatoes, beans and baloney with the locals.