Monday, 6 March 2017

Swept to Sea

St. Anthony has been wiped off the map:

A non-stop 72+ hour winter blast pummelled the Northern Peninsula this past weekend, dumping at least 80cm of snow.
Even the snow plows were taken off the road.

A short 30 minute (mis)adventure into the worst of it and I was hurrying back to my cave:

The hospital:

Wouldn't want to dig out of this one:

... or this one:

The main highway coming....

Snow drifts up to the power lines:

Roads leading to and from St. Anthony were still blocked off this afternoon.
The only new birds I've discovered, so far, were a flock of 30+ redpolls which included two pale individuals:

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Starry Sky Over a Foregone Home

The only known settlement of Vikings in North America

As a birder I tend to have unusual priorities. And one of the priorities to this 4-week rotation here was to see the Northern Lights. So, with last nights forecast for clear skies and cold air I found myself, at midnight, gazing over the Strait of Belle Isle with a sense of longing for Labrador.

In the foreground stood the remains of several buildings from the long abandoned Norse settlement and high above was a sky of crowded infinities. Dividing these two unfamiliar worlds was a green hue buoyantly wandering over the big land: Labrador.

In other news, I will be in Newfoundland for at least another three years!
Birding time (as I always seem to surmise) will be drastically cut - but I can't think of any better place to work while dreaming of the birds outside the hospital walls!

Saturday, 25 February 2017

The Northern Pen Giveth

One week into my 4-week visit to St. Anthony.

Life here revolves around the slob ice:

48 hours ago the slob ice was looming on the horizon and showed no threat of invasion. By this afternoon it had infiltrated the entire coast - the only patch of open water I could find was at Fishing Point, right in St. Anthony.

I arrived at the point in the mid-afternoon and was shocked to see two mega flocks of eiders totalling at least 13000 individuals!

Photos will never do justice to the number of ducks out there today - this photo alone surely includes over 5000 eiders! It was a very dramatic scene as the pack ice was slowly encroaching into this last open area and the eiders were frantically flying from one side to the other not knowing what to do or where to go next.

Eventually they flew out over the ice and ventured further South. The next 3+ days are calling for very windy conditions, including offshore winds which should open up the water again. It will be interesting to see if these eiders return.

The Strait of Belle Isle is totally locked in:
Bring on the polar bears!

The highlight so far has been this Gyrfalcon which was hunting Glaucous Gulls in St. Anthony harbour during the week:

A view of the harbour: 

Pretty spectacular views of the night sky here:

The next main highlight was this male American Three-toed Woodpecker:

A long-awaited lifer!

Slob Gulls are the only gull species in the area:

Weird cloud/shadow formation this afternoon:

Posse of Guillemots:
...still planning to do a write up on last weeks guillemot observation.

Snow Bunting in habitat: