Thursday, 14 October 2021

Vacation in Atlantic Canada - Part 5

 14 September 2021
Mahone Bay - Graves Island - Mahone Bay, NS

     Sunrise over the bay was always spectacular (at least it was on the mornings we were there) and Miriam made sure that we recorded it for posterity.

     After breakfast we left for Graves Island, about a forty-minute drive from our B&B. 
     The journey along the coast was marked by picturesque views and ocean vistas, and we stopped frequently.

     There seemed to be a general arrival of Common Loons (Gavia immer) and we spotted several.

     It is a spectacular bird and all the ones that we saw were still in breeding plumage.

     As might be expected American Herring Gull (Larus smithsonianus) was much more common.

     It did not take long before we crossed over to Graves Island.

     It is a beautiful spot, with many first rate camping sites for those enjoying that kind of vacation.
     We set out to walk the perimeter of the island, a distance of 3.2km - an easy walk on level ground.

     I don't think that we were ever out of earshot of American Crow (Corvus brachyrynchos).

     Many of the ferns looked different from those we have in Ontario. This attractive species is called Eastern Hay-scented Fern (Dennstaedtia punctilobula) and was quite common on Graves Island.

     Goldenrod (Solidago sp.) was prolific, and well patronized by insects, but I am unable to narrow this plant down to the species level.

     Similarly, the following flower seems to be some kind of aster (Asteraceae) but I am unsure of the species.

     Wild blackberries made for a great snack.

     Blue-headed Vireos (Vireo solitarius) were having great success foraging for insects as they fattened up for their long migration south.

      Northern Parulas (Setophaga americana) were equally industrious.

     It was a very enjoyable walk, with many charming vistas to punctuate our stops.

     American Yellow Warbler (Setophaga aestiva) is late to arrive in spring and departs early in the fall. It seemed to be beyond its normal departure date for the species but we were happy to see this individual still foraging for insects.

     It was Miriam who had discovered Graves Island while checking an app on line, and we continued to dwell on our good fortune on being able to enjoy this beautiful spot.

     A couple of Spotted Sandpipers (Actitis macularius) preened and postured directly in front of us.

     I don't think it's possible to walk through an eastern woodland without being scolded by American Red Squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus). 

     They are nothing if not feisty!
     The local American Crows were not at all happy about a subadult Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) straying into "their" airspace, and they wasted no time in harassing it mercilessly.

     A small freshwater pond was home to several American Black Ducks (Anas rubripes).

     Black Ducks were far more common in Eastern Canada than they are back home in Ontario.

     Mallards (Anas platyrynchos) are not reluctant to interbreed with Black Ducks, and from time to time the array of intergrades is quite staggering.

     The female above seems to be all Mallard!
     Myrtle Warblers (Setophaga cononata) are among the latest warblers to leave their summer haunts, and they migrate shorter distances than most wood warblers.

     The undertail markings of warblers are diagnostic of the species and this individual is showing its distinctive pattern well. At times, when the birds are foraging among the leaves, you don't get much more than a glimpse at the underside of the tail, so time invested in learning the patterns contributes greatly to identifying the species. 
     Halloween is fast approaching. This tree looks like it was designed for hobgoblins and spooks!

     We arrived back in Mahone Bay for a late lunch at a restaurant with the humorous name of For Cod's Sake. We had to line up for about twenty minutes to gain entry, but it was well worth it. They cooked fish and chips the way fish and chips should be cooked. We left well satisfied and full to the brim!
     In late afternoon at our B&B a huge flock of Common Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) paid us a visit, and we were treated to the closest we have come to a murmuration.

    There were many hatch-year birds in the aggregation, bearing testimonial to the success of these aggressive invaders.

     We were content not to concern ourselves with the question of alien versus native species and simply enjoyed the spectacle.

15 September 2021
Mahone Bay - Swissair Flight 111 Memorial - Peggy's Cove - Auld's Cove, NS

     We were always first in for breakfast and this morning was no exception. Once we had eaten we settled our bill, packed the car and headed for the open road.
     I don't think many would question that Peggy's Cove is the location most tourists wish to visit above all others when visiting Nova Scotia. So what to do, but set a course for Peggy's Cove?
     A short distance outside town we saw a sign to the memorial marking the crash of Swissair Flight 111 on 2 September 1998, eight kilometres offshore from Peggy's Cove.

     The plane went down in the Atlantic Ocean and 229 passengers and crew all perished.

     The Government of Canada carried out a full investigation of the crash lasting more than four years at a cost of $57 million dollars.
      One cannot help but feel a sense of poignancy and the sharing of vicarious grief as one gazes out to sea.

     The memorial ensures that the victims of this awful tragedy will never be forgotten.
     We saw more cormorants along this stretch of coast than we had seen during most of our trip. They connect to a maritime coastline in such a perfect manner.

      Peggy's Cove lives up to its reputation as one of the most picturesque (some would say THE most picturesque) village on the entire Atlantic coast.

     The lighthouse dominates the landscape and is the focal point for most tourists. 

     There were many people there in mid September and the parking areas were full. I can barely imagine what it must be like in mid summer at the peak of the tourist season.
      It cannot be denied, however, that the entire area is beautiful, the coastline rugged, the views unmatched.

     An American Herring Gull viewed the whole scene with an air of déja vu.

     Miriam and I, however, were impressed and delighted in the entire experience, from clambering over rocks to wandering around the harbour.

     There is often a nagging question in the back of my mind when I am in Atlantic Canada whether the lobster traps one sees everywhere are working traps, or strategically located for the tourists.

     American Black Ducks in salt water was a first for me.

     It is hard not to be impressed by a Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus). It dominates the shore like no other bird, and brooks no interference.

     A Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias), ever patient, ever opportunistic, probed the water in characteristic fashion.

     The myriad organisms of the shore provide a fine bounty for intelligent American Crows, anxious to exploit every opportunity for a meal.

     We left Peggy's Cove, well satisfied with our visit, and drove directly to Auld's Cove where we had reserved a motel for three nights. The Cove Motel would serve our needs, but it has clearly seen better days and is in serious need of renovation and maintenance inside and out.

     We opted to have dinner in the restaurant at the motel. Miriam chose a seafood casserole and I had fish cakes and beans. Neither dish was memorable.
     The bed, however, was comfortable and we had a good night's sleep. We were about to embark on the last phase of our maritime odyssey with a trip around the legendary Cabot Trail.
     That will all be the subject of the next and final installment of the account of our vacation in Atlantic Canada.

Accommodation: The Cove Motel, 227 D-31 Road, Auld's Cove, NS B0H 1K0, 902 747-2700  Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5. 


  1. Peggy's Cove is a magical place. The memorial is poignant.

  2. wow, what a great trip you are on. Your images of the ocean and beaces really makes me want to travel again. I miss the ocean. And the wildlife. So rich! Loved the images of the Loon. I rarely see them in my part of Sweden. Thanks for sharing the beauty.

  3. Hari OM
    Just gorgeous around there... all the way up that coast, indeed. YAM xx

  4. My travelling days have long gone but I do enjoy reading about others exploits. When I do get out its usually no more than a couple of miles down the road. I'm happy with my 'visitors'.They keep me busy.

    1. Thanks for dropping by, Mike. It's always great to hear from you.

  5. Thank you (and Miriam) so much for taking us with you.

  6. Those ubiquitous American Herring Gulls! The blue heron was lovely.

  7. You have the most marvellous trips!

  8. Wow, the beauty is amazing. Peggy's Cove reminds me a of Newfoundland. Thanks for sharing all the wonderful wildlife and beautiful scenes.

  9. David - I am in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and enjoying my feeble attempts to identify the flora and fauna in this area. We did have a scorpion in our bedroom last night, just a tiny one! Peggy's Cove is undeniably picturesque! Right out of a movie scene!

  10. Gorgeous photos, but I especially love that cheeky red squirrel :)

  11. Dreadful regarding that plane.
    It's a different kind of place yet nice and that sunrise is beautiful with those gorgeous colours.

  12. Everything is so beautiful (except the motel) that it doesn't seem as if it could be real.


  13. Hi David, great to see more pictures of your memorable trip. Peggy's cove looks Beautiful, and reminds me of fishing villages in Ireland. The crows here also drive away any hawks or other hunting birds. I love watching crows. I remember seeing that plane crash on the news. Have a great day, thanks for sharing the photos, hugs, Valerie

  14. Hello David,
    The sunrise is so beautiful. The Great Blue Heron is a favorite of mine. I really like them.
    Many hugs, Marit

  15. Great sunrise indeed.
    I remember those wild blackberries! And ohhh, the water. And Peanut, awwww... so "hairless"! But still cute.

    Yes. See why I hate flying. You always come down just sometimes...
    The black bird, oh WOW - as the colored houses.

    Nice room, too.

  16. You really get the most out of everything. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Je préfère le goûter composé de mûres que celui de l'oiseau qui semble être une araignée :D
    Le village est joli, les photos sont chouettes. Il faisait beau.
    Encore pas mal d'observations!
    Bonne journée

  18. Hi David.

    A great part of your journey.
    Beautiful nature and beautiful Ducks and Birds.
    I really like the village.
    I think it would be great to live there.

    Greetings from Patricia.

  19. Hi David - it sounds a wonderful place to visit ... each of them! Those sunrises and sunsets you'll always remember ... I'm glad you had some memorable meals - fish and chips of the highest order always delicious - and the fish must be so fresh. Gorgeous - thanks for sharing with us - cheers Hilary

  20. A wonderful trip and lots of beautiful scenery!

  21. I am very much enjoying these posts of your wanderings, David. it makes me quite envious as these days road trips are very much out of the question and neither my husband nor I are fond of organised coach trips and the like.

    1. I have never taken one of those organized bus trips, nor can I ever imagine myself doing so.

  22. When we visited Peggy's Cove we had it almost to ourselves, but this was back in the 1970s - tourism has changed so much since them.
    One of my most memorable part of our trip was staying in a quaint B/B at Digby Neck and then catching a ferry to Long Island which we then crossed to get another ferry to Brier Island where we then caught yet another boat to go Whale watching. We were so fortunate as it was a very misty early morning, but as the mist broke and the sun came out we came upon what appeared to be a cauldron of boiling sea water, but it was a mix of whales, dolphins and birds all engaged in a feeding frenzy.

    1. Sounds like you had a wonderful experience, Rosemary.

  23. Hello David, a most wonderful part of your trip you show us here. The views are amazing and the birds as well.
    Wide horizons and views over the sea is so wonderful it is vitamines for the soul.
    Warm regards,

  24. Wild place with rich flowers and fauna.
    Fishermen's houses are well laid out and maintained.
    The squirrel is admirable in image.

    1. PS The mounds of stones have an orienting role. They show that in that place there was a metal pillar, which is missing.

  25. Hi David, beautiful landscapes and birds. The houses are a little look alike the houses in Denmark. Have a nice weekend.

  26. It's nice to see pics of Peggy's Cove. It was a rainy day when we went by, so we kept driving to Halifax (from Yarmouth).

  27. Like the other readers, I feel that you’re taking me along with you on the trip...a great way to travel.

  28. Loved your report David and Miriam's pictures tell a lovely story too. The sunrises really are spectacular! I am happy that you saw so many birds. Miriam's find of Graves Island truly did make for a great day of birding. Looks like Peggy's Cove is a must see. I love how they are not shy about using color!

  29. Beautiful trip so far! I found it humorous to read about all of those "American" animals in your blog. Those Americans sure do like to migrate, don't they? But, then, "Canadian" geese like to migrate south, too, so there. You have an amazing eye for detail and a steady hand with the camera. Awesome pictures!

  30. I feel like I've been on a vacation whenever I look at one of these posts. Thank you!

  31. Buenas tardes, amigo David, no se puede pedir más a ese viaje, amaneceres maravillosos, bellos y hermosos lugares de costa, estupenda y surtida fauna y bella flora, la verdad sea dicha que es un lugar que merece ser visitado.
    Gracias por compartir vuestro viaje y tan bello reportaje.
    Un gran abrazo amigos de vuestro compadre y amigo español Juan.

  32. Hello David,:=) It's difficult to know where to begin after seeing so many beautiful images. Your odyssey fills me with admiration for Miriam's skill with the camera. Thank you Miriam!:=) Your descriptive narration is a pleasure to read, I was impressed with the large gathering of starlings, and enjoyed seeing the smaller birds, which I never see here. Thank you so much for another enjoyable visit,
    I was surprised to read that you do not see Lizards in Ontario. By the way, the juvenile lizard was confiding, but if it had been an adult the outcome would have been very different.

  33. Thanks for this wonderful trip home for me! I love Peggy's Cove and first visited it over 50 years ago. I can't vouch for the authenticity of its lobster traps, but I know the ones on Digby wharf are used. I hope you have a fabulous time in Cape Breton. It's one of my most favorite spots on earth. And I love all your beautiful birds, the birds of my childhood. Happy travels to you and Miriam!

  34. Hello David,
    Another great trip report. The bird and photos are lovely, I enjoy seeing the views of the water and village. The lighthouse is pretty too, it looks like a popular place for the tourist. I am looking forward to seeing the Loon and American Black Ducks here this winter. The Eagle and crow photos are awesome. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, have a happy weekend! PS, thanks for the visit and comment.

  35. A beautiful Island with nice flora and fauna.

  36. What a beautiful nature area David.
    So beautifully photographed, the animals but also the landscapes are beautiful to see.
    Greetings Tinie

  37. Outstanding photographs! A wonderful trip with so many beautiful sightings.

  38. Great photos!
    Lots of interesting birds, and I enjoyed the scenic views, too.
    And that is the best portrait of a squirrel that I have ever seen!

  39. I really enjoyed this virtual holiday with you. So much to see and some great photography. I am happy to say I saw a murmuration of starlings while in the UK a few years back on Christmas Day, wow what a sight to see.
    Sorry I am far behind in both blogging and commenting. We have had two short trips away where I have managed to get a number of bird and insect photos, but I have not had the time to go through the photos and they are piling up on me. Maybe with winter approaching and less garden/kitchen work to do I will have time to sit at the computer.
    Have a fab Sunday, take care Diane

  40. Hello, David
    I was amazed at the beautiful views that you showed. How beautiful is Atlantic Canada! I even opened a Google map to see your route to Graves Island and Peggy's Cove. I liked the birds and starlings. They do not fly south for a long time, but remain in St. Petersburg to winter in city gardens.

  41. How nice to get to go there. You didn't give your room a very high rating but maybe you saw somewhere better to stay the next time you go. I've always wanted to visit Nova Scotia. My Dad said our family originated there. Love your photos of course! Makes me want to go even more!

  42. All those photos. I enjoyed them all. Also the beautiful kind of aster. I love asters. But also that bird, the Northern Parulas. So pretty. Thanks for sharing.

  43. What a lovely place to visit and your pictures are wonderful. I haven't visited the east coast since I was a teenager, still living with my parents. We went to Boston (My father had meetings there) and then up the coast. We ate lobster every chance we had and clams on a half shell. Oh, my memories of it are wonderful and your pictures reminded me of those wonderful times. A delightfully, memorable post David :)

    Andrea @ From the Sol

  44. Looks like a great visit, even though the accommodations were mediocre.

  45. It goes without saying, all your birds are fantastic (I haven't seen a crow in decades). Loved viewing all the pristine vistas! And enjoying Halloween as I do, that "hooligan tree" captured my imagination.
    Thanks for linking up with us this week!

  46. Hello David.
    Landscapes, houses, or birds, it's a treat!
    How not to crack on this little squirrel?
    Unfortunately it is sad for the passengers of the plane.
    Have a nice day

  47. You've certainly had a good trip.
    I have enjoyed all of your posts and photographs.

    All the best Jan

  48. hello David
    Flora and fauna from their most beautiful side .. the rocky coast reminds me of our vacation in Sweden on the Lysekil archipelago ...
    Greetings Frank

  49. Hi David,
    This part of the country certainly was worth visisting. Picturesque villages, situated in a beautiful scenery, accompanied with abundant wildlife. When such a beautiful surrounding is not to far away from home, why should you travel to another part of the world? No crowded airports, no risk of being infected with covid-19. The choise should be easy.
    Greetings, Kees

  50. Fantastic photos. What a beautiful place to visit. And that tree was very spooky looking.

  51. Todo lo que he visto hasta ahora me ha gustado, espero la siguiente entrega. Un abrazo.

  52. It must have been an incredible trip. Great photos of all that you saw. Thank you David! I would like to take a trip up that way when we start road-tripping again.

  53. A wonderful photographer friend of mine did quite a series of picturesque views of Peggy's Cove and it made me always think that if I were to ever make it to Nova Scotia, this would be one of the stops on my itinerary. In fact, I even have one of his prints at the cottage. After reading your post with more wonderful views -- on top of the fabulous bird and creature photos -- I'm more convinced I'd love this region. That squirrel photo is especially fantastic. I've loved this series.

  54. Querido David muchas gracias por hacernos participes de tus vacaciones, es agradable disfrutar de tan hermoso lugar a través de las maravillosas fotos. Igualmente los comentarios son amenos e interesantes. Un fuerte abrazo para ti y para Miriam.

  55. Gorgeous photos of birds and landscapes. Autumn is so colorful. Here in Finland this fabulous time has passed and the views start to be monotonous & colorless, except for red rowan berries.

  56. More wonderful memories awakened for me. The charming beauty of Peggy's Cove and reliving the horror for the families of Flight 111. I'm glad that 'For Cod's Sake was well worth the wait!

  57. Hi David,
    great that you were able to capture the bald eagle in flight so beautifully! Beautiful to see. But you also show a lot of beautiful flora and fauna in this post.
    Did I read that you were scolded by a red squirrel!!! That really shouldn't be possible because you are really so sweet! l
    I wish I could join one of your tours :-)

    Kind regards and a hug,

  58. Hi David! :) Beautiful post. The photo of the squirrel is GORGEOUS...I've been all around Atlantic Canada, but not too much in the South, the furthest south I've been is Peggy's Cove and it was really nice there. Lobster traps are such a symbol of Atlantic Canada, love that photo!