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Posts from the ‘Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve’ category

Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Driving the Cape Shore of the Avalon Peninsula is beautiful. This leg of the Peninsula sits up on a plateau, with bays cut in, usually with a beautiful river leading in. It is a prairie, and I expected to see caribou, but never did. I envisioned fishing these beautiful streams for trout. 

It rained very hard last night with heavy winds, so this morning we drove in and out of fog. It’s about an hour and a half drive to the cape, partly because of poor road conditions. that makes it hard to enjoy the scenery. You have to dodge serious potholes and ice heaves. When we made the turn toward the reserve, the road got better, but narrow. I stopped several times to let cars pass. There were fences, and you could see something was grazing these vast grasslands.

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We parked at the visitor’s center in fog, but could see a lighthouse at the end of the point. Entering a ranger began telling us all about the reserve. It is mostly about a special breeding area for gannets, murres and other sea birds. I asked about the fences, but no cows. He said years ago, the government encouraged people to raise pigs, but wanted to keep them out of sight and smell. They regulated that there should be a buffer from the road, like a tree line, or hill. Farmers don’t raise cattle like we do in the states. The winters are too hard, so it is more for personal use. They might have 1 or 2 cows. Someone might have 20, and they are allowed to bring them here to graze in the summer. Hay and grain have to be shipped in for winter feeding, so it is expensive. 

The fog began to lift, so he encouraged us to go out while we could see. I thought the sun would burn it off, but we would learn it just comes and goes. A big wind will drive it off, but there was little wind this morning. He cautioned us the stay within the staked areas, as the cliffs are 800’ above the ocean. The fog makes it difficult to see where you are sometimes. Bird Rock is only 40’ from the viewing area, a 10’ x 20’ rocky ledge.

 

I went to the truck and got two cameras. Walking through beautiful fields of grass and flowers, it is about a 20 minute walk out to the rock. The fog was thick enough that I could hear birds, but couldn’t see them. As we got to the viewing area, a german couple was sitting on rocks, amazed at thousands of gannets raising almost grown, speckled babies. Lots were sitting on the 800’ tall rock with ledges all around and all the way down. There was constant action of birds circling around, out to sea and back with fish for the babies.

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The fog made it more surreal with birds floating above a seemingly endless cavern. I wanted to lean over to see, but one bad step and you are finished with this lifetime. I love that Canada doesn’t put guard rails everywhere to protect you. They just put up signs to use at your own risk.

The german couple had just arrived for a trip all the way across Canada, and they were amazed at the sights before them. The man was totally unafraid of heights with his feet dangling over the side, taking pictures with his point-and-shoot camera.

We really could never quite see the water below us, but I love shooting in the fog. It makes things stand out from its background. Birds were doing their little love dance, rubbing their bills up in the air, or wrapping their heads around each other. Apparently different birds roost at different levels. Gannets take the top, murres lower and so on, but we couldn’t see far enough down to tell.

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We talked, traded places and shot lots of pictures for about an hour before walking back. Like the puffin viewing area, I would love to go back. We ate our lunch while watching a 30-minute video in the visitor’s center. One local has become a sort of ambassador for the area. He walks the entire reserve often, and he talked about the different plants and flowers he sees. 

A local lady made a sort of aquarium, using things she found on the beaches, carving them into cod, lobsters, trash, a boat and a fisherman. It is a wonderful area. Like the ambassador, it would be fun to walk through it, as well as viewing the birds in all seasons – well maybe not winter. 

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Driving back up the coastal road, we stopped to take pictures of several unique areas. We are here in the summer, when it is often foggy or cloudy. The winters will be more gray and white, so the like to make color any way they can. They also have lots of time in winter to do crafts. One homeowner had built or bought boats of all types to decorate his yard, and even a Trump airplane. Another homeowner made very cool birdhouses. Then I had to stop and get pictures of a classic-looking trout stream.