Monday, June 13, 2022

Visit to Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick - Part 5

17 May, 2022
Familiarization Tour of Grand Manan

     We awoke to rain, heavy overcast and dull conditions. Not good weather for birders.
     Breakfast was a little different from Darrell's feasts! Miriam staged it artfully for the picture, even featuring one of the religious slogans found throughout the house.

     I searched diligently for a hint of Darwin, a portrait perhaps, a copy of On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, but I found not a thing. Richard Dawkins might have a place of honour I thought, Christopher Hitchins perchance, but there was no hope of that! Sam Harris, surely. Nope. Neil deGrasse Tyson - not a chance! We placed the sign face down for the rest of our stay, restoring it to its upright position before we left.
     At the end of the solarium where we spent most of our time when in the house, there were sliding doors to nowhere.

     Given the less than agreeable weather we decided to do a bit of a reconnaissance tour of the island to familiarize ourselves with it, stopping first at Castalia Marsh, which seemed to hold great possibilities.
     Here is what we contended with.

     There seems to be a universal practice in the maritime provinces of using buoys as decorative items on houses. A few of them, tastefully arranged, or set in place by a person with a discriminating eye are all well and good, but often "overkill" was the expression that sprang to mind when we saw such decorative zeal.

     We stopped at the Long Eddy Point Lighthouse where a remarkable moment of serendipity occurred.

     Another birder arrived - Pam - who was very friendly and anxious to be helpful to visitors from Ontario. She asked us if we were looking for the White-eyed Vireo (Vireo griseus) and the Prairie Warbler (Setophaga discolor) that had been reported in the vicinity. Of course, not being linked in to local bird alerts we had not been aware of these rarities, but were in any event more keen to experience the maritime species we had come to Grand Manan to see. 
     Pam was from the Miramichi but when she learned my name she recognized it, and said, "You lead bird walks, don't you?" How could a birder from New Brunswick know me you might ask? It turns out that Pam's sister lives in Kitchener and had participated in one of the outings I led and had sent a link to my blog to Pam. Small world!
     We hope that when Pam next comes to Ontario to visit her sister she will get in touch.
     We moved along a short distance to the North Head where several birders that we had met on the ferry were looking for the vireo and the warbler. We spent a little time there but neither bird put in an appearance.
     The gloom was starting to dissipate, however, and the coastline was looking far more appealing.

     Pam had told us of the Seven Days Work Cliff Nature Reserve and suggested that we might like to try it.

     It was just what we needed actually. It was a rugged trail on a fairly steep incline, so provided a bit of a workout with many birds to keep us company. Warblers of several species were encountered, but usually half hidden by foliage and flitting around incessantly; hardly suitable for photography.
     A male Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) was much more obliging.

The beautiful flower from which it is sipping nectar is Canada Fly Honeysuckle (Lonicera canadensis), a species new to us.

     Canadian Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) by contrast is widespread across the continent and was a familiar plant.

     Here is a section of the trail.

     At times there was a rope to hang onto, and a Winter Firefly (Ellychnia corrusca) found it a perfectly acceptable insect highway.

     Spiders (order Araneae) are mystifying to most casual observers, and I am unable to narrow this one down any further than to say it is a spider!

     The view from the trail was spectacular

     We saw several Thin-legged Wolf Spiders (family Lycosidae) on the rocks at the shoreline.

     We returned to "our" house to make lunch of sliced turkey and cheddar cheese on bagels, and after relaxing for a while, ventured out again.
     American Herring Gull (Larus smithsonianus) was the default gull on Grand Manan.

     It gave us a great deal of pleasure to have a daily interactions with this very handsome bird.

     Eventually we found ourselves back at the Long Eddy Point Lightstation, enjoying a much more agreeable experience in bright sunshine.

     An Early Tachinid Fly (family Tachinidae) caught our attention.

     We moved along to Northern Head where a bench overlooking the ocean provided great views. Other than for gulls there was a paucity of birds but a seal provided great entertainment for us, and kept us guessing as to where its head would pop up next.
     Asian Bleeding Heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis) is a common garden plant, sometimes behaving as a spring ephemeral, becoming dormant in summer.

     It was in full bloom at our B&B and was a bit of a magnet for hummingbirds.
     A female Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus) much preferred sunflower seeds.

     We had enjoyed our Cesar salad for dinner the previous night and opted to repeat it; it was equally satisfying and tasty.
     There were emails to answer, books to read and we settled in for the night, looking forward to another day on Grand Manan on the morrow.

18 May, 2022
Castalia Marsh - White Head Island - Castalia Marsh

     Pam had texted us to let us know that Purple Sandpipers (Calidris maritima) had been seen at Castalia Marsh so we headed there to see if we could find this highly sought-after species.

     No such luck, unfortunately! In fact other than for an occasional gull, birds were conspicuous by their absence.
     Our plan was to go to White Head Island so we drove to Ingall's Head to get the free ferry over to the island.
     As soon as we arrived we busied ourselves watching the abundant American Herring Gulls going about their business - feeding, loafing, squabbling, jostling for premium perches.

     It is an impressive bird by any standard.

     The departure point of the ferry was quite picturesque.

     Here is a view on the open ocean side of the harbour.

    We did not have long to wait until the incoming ferry arrived to take us on the 29 minute journey over to White Head.

     Turnaround was extremely well-managed and the ferry discharged and loaded with no time wasted, and we were on our way.
     Common Eider (Somateria mollissima) is a maritime species, seen very rarely on Lake Ontario when a misoriented vagrant finds its way there, so what is a common sight for the locals was quite exciting for us.

     We were not long in distancing ourselves from Grand Manan.

     As if knowing how pleased we were to see them Common Eiders kept us company for most of our journey across the water.

Common Eider ♂

Common Eider ♀

     Almost from the moment we arrived on White Head Island, Song Sparrows (Melospiza melodia) were very common.

     The island is quite small and we set off to explore.

      Tragedy is unfortunately a part of life, or perhaps more accurately death, for those who make a living from the sea. 

     We had made sandwiches for lunch, with yogurt and prunes, and a thermos of coffee, and we were in the exalted company of two Bald Eagles (Leucocephalus haliaeetus) as we ate.

     It was a little gloomy, and overcast at times with rain threatening, but pleasant nonetheless.

     We saw our first New Brunswick Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus), evidence that many passerines display no reluctance to cross bodies of water to get to suitable habitat.

A Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) was decked out in the peak of nuptial splendour.

     A pair of Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) was its usual elegant self.

     Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is capable of inducing hissing, spitting, frothing at the mouth, and invectives to make a sailor blush from many a gardener, but in my case, sheer delight is my reaction.

     We continued to cruise around White Head Island, taking great satisfaction in all it had to offer.

     A Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) is guaranteed to evoke admiration.

     A Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) no less.

     One of the birds we had most hoped to see during our visit to Canada's maritime provinces was Razorbill (Alco tordia) so we were exceptionally charmed when several flocks emerged alongside the boat on the way back to Grand Manan.

     Miriam had to be very quick with the camera as the birds moved away from the ferry and dived en masse, disappearing from view.
     In no time at all, or so it seemed, the ramp was about to be lowered to enable us to drive ashore.

     We were greeted by a chorus of Herring Gulls, no doubt preferring the arrival of a fishing boat where tasty treats were to be expected.

     We decided to go back to Castalia Marsh to try our luck again with Purple Sandpipers. We had success, but not as well as we might have hoped, as five birds flew directly in front of us, moving at high speed along the breakwater and disappeared, never to be seen again.
     Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) is a common species at home in Ontario, where we are accustomed to seeing them on fenceposts and shrubs adjacent to grasslands, so it was especially interesting to witness them favouring a rocky shoreline next to seagrasses.

     Seaside Pea (Lathyrus japonicus) is a very attractive plant, native to coastal areas of the northern hemisphere.

     It was at high tide, or close to it, and several groups of Black Scoters (Melanitta americana) provided us with excellent views.

     Knowing that we would have access to a kitchen, we had brought homemade pasta sauce with us, and pecorino romano cheese grated the night before we left home, so we had a fine dinner, accompanied by a smooth Malbec called Don David (and who can resist a name like that?).
     What an enjoyable day it had been!     


David M. Gascoigne,
David M. Gascoigne,

I'm a life long birder. My interests are birds, nature, reading, books, outdoors, travel, food and wine.


  1. Has fotografiado, buenos paisajes, plantas, insectos y algunas aves. Creo que tu sakida ha dado muy buenos frutos y escelentes lugares para fotografiar.
    Feliz semana.

  2. Just wonderful. And how lovely that this small world worked in your favour.

    1. I think it does every day in one form or another, Sue.

  3. Hari OM
    Crikey that house is spooking me all the way over this side of the big lake!!! Absent owner, messages of indoctination and a door to break one's neck from...

    Thank goodness for nature to keep it all sane. Oh and a good meal to end each day! Wonderful to connect with a 'fan' (six degrees does seem to work!) and that you at least witnessed the Purple Sandpipers, if the beat the lens. I just spent an interesting hour trying to find a spider to match that first one... you may have discovered something new! I won't mention how familiar that weather appeared to me... YAM xx

    1. My best encounter ever with Purple Sandpipers was on the Isle of Anglesey in Wales, YAM.

  4. Hello,
    Beautiful views of the shoreline and all the birds. My favorites are the pair of Eagles and the Razorbills. Pretty wildflowers and the Lighthouse is a favorite too. Have a great day and happy new week!

  5. ...David, you captured the big picture and the small details. What a trip.

  6. Lots of beautiful shots, David, I love esp. the one with Herring Gulls.

  7. Dear Don David, I'm glad you were largely successful on the bird part of the trip.
    Best regards Lisbeth

  8. Hi David.

    Wonderful continuation of your journey.
    Beautiful houses where you were to spend the night and have breakfast.
    They have a beautiful coastline there.
    Very much decoration.
    Beautiful Birds and Ducks.
    Beautiful Eider Ducks.

    Greetings from Patirica.

  9. I have always wanted to visit Grand Manan, David. You have given me the incentive I needed.

    I love how you featured the Herring Gulls, such beauties and so under appreciated. Love the Eiders. You got a lot closer than I ever do. I’ve never seen a Razorbill. I have to fix that.

  10. Your persistence is impressive: no weather or dishonest B&B owners seem to stop you from checking out the bird life — and a few spiders.

    best… mae at

    1. Hi Mae: If you happen to come back and look at this, I am leaving comments on your blog that are not appearing there, so you may wish to check whether they are in a spam folder.

  11. Hi David, sorry the second BnB wasn't as good as the first, and I hate these people who continually try to convert people with their stupid texts and sayings. I know what i'm talking about, my sister was like that, just awful. How fun that you met someone who had heard of yyou, that's fame for you! Glad you saw so many great birds and sights, but I did not like the spider! Have a great day, hugs, Valerie

  12. Grand Manan looks lovely. As does White Head Island. You saw lots of great birds, and those 2 eagles together are pretty impressive. I actually love the fog photos, but it is probably not so helpful to spot birds if you can only see a foot or so in front of you. And I laughed at your staged breakfast and the sign. Too bad there was no Darwin or Dawkins to bless the establishment. Smile. I think from how you described it I would have been shocked if she did have books by any of these great scientists. Thanks for sharing, and happy new week. Hugs-Erika

    1. I didn't expect to find them either, Erika. I was having a little fun.

  13. Beautiful blog with a beautiful serie birds. Some are in the winter in the Netherlands. I like the lighthouse too. I like the eagles too. Have a nice week. Greetings Caroline

  14. I hope that those sliding doors carried a warning David - you could break your neck stepping out from there especially in the dark.
    The amount of birds you and Miriam capture is always very impressive wherever you roam. To cature a bird on my little camera requires them to stand still and pose for me.

  15. No matter what you had a beautiful trip with lots of beautiful birds....and a great Malbec!!.......Abrazotes, Marcela

  16. That was an adventure! Your reputation preceded you, too. I liked the buoys!!!

    1. We could have brought some back for you. They were washed up on the beach with each incoming tide it seemed.

  17. My FIL was born and raised in Boiestown, New Brunswick and he is now buried in Hawaii. This post is interesting to me because of the family connection. Love those pretty Bleeding Hearts and never tire of seeing Gulls. Gigi Hawaii

  18. What a wonderful adventure. I see the Blue Heron made an appearance. I enjoy seeing them. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Hi David - that Don David sounds rather good at the moment and I could do with a glass .. but not to be. Are the islands in the Bay of Fundy with its huge tides? And oh gosh that house could feature in a murder mystery ... especially with the biblical connection ... fire and brimstone. That's one of your B+Bs I'd avoid ... but you always make excellent use of your time ... wonderful to read about - cheers Hilary

  20. I must smile when you are looking for Darwin and only see the slogans there David.
    I guess that Darwin did not fit in there.
    Lovely photos as always, and the bleeding heart was very pretty. They bloom here too.
    Don David sounds like a great name. My youngest son is named David too. Great name indeed 😊
    Hugs and kisses, Marit

  21. Lunching in the company of Bald Eagles sounds like heaven to me :)

  22. Wow part 5 is amazing. How cool is it that Pam knew you and was able to direct you to some birds. Not in my town but up coast the excess of float decoration is like that on a lot of house. Not my style at all. LOL Love the photos and the stories you share. Have a great day.

  23. Fun to see a blue heron again. "My" heron has quit the pond I pass.

  24. Lovely captures of everything and it looks a nice area. Shame about those sliding doors leading to no where. Neighbours have them but they can't put steps there because it would be too close to our boundary fence.

  25. Encore de belles découvertes. Les bouées doivent servir de brise vue, mais ce n'est pas très joli.
    Bonne journée

  26. What beautiful birds you have seen.
    Birds are my passion.

    Be careful with the patio doors of the house: (Very apart)

    Nice to read and watch your blog.

  27. You find so many treasures even in inclement weather. :)

  28. Interesting post. I would love to visit Prince Edward Island but it is never going to happen. With flights going up so much in price I wonder if we will ever visit anywhere ever again!

    Fabulous set of photos which I am sure you were both involved in taking.

    Keep safe and best wishes to you both. Diane

    1. I think my days of international travels are pretty much at an end, Diane. We haven't ruled out a visit to Iceland, but I would't even subject myself to the airport chaos that seems to be the norm these days. We can only hope that will improve. Best wishes to you and Nigel - David

  29. I had no idea of the geography of the area and had to look up where Grand Manan was in relation to Prince Edward Island. It looked a far piece but I guess not too far if you were still on PEI as home base. Thanks for the tour and all the lovely photos.

    1. The drive from our B&B on Prince Edward Island to the ferry at Blacks Harbour was less than three hours.

  30. I notice the House of Buoys and the two Canada geese.

  31. A wonderful selection of photographs, what a trip.

    All the best Jan

  32. Your sightings are fabulous and the scenery is beautiful, to be sure. It looks like fabulous birding territory and it was fun to encounter Pam. You are known! But what will stay with me from this post, possibly forever are "sliding doors to nowhere." What were they thinking? And I wonder if any somnambulists ever went out and took a nasty fall? It sounds like a great name for a kind of creepy movie or something related to a deep psychological problem. I'll have to work on that!

  33. Another great report and beautiful photos from which you can not take your eyes off. Fantastic view from the trail. During this trip you saw many amazing birds. Thank you very much for letting me see them too. I love looking at pictures of flowers. This time the seaside peas stole my heart.
    Hugs and greetings.

    1. Seaside Pea was new to us, Lucja-Maria, and we were equally enchanted.

  34. Another great post of birds, insects, plants and scenery David. I really hope we will make it to the east coast one day. The detail Miriam captured on the Early Tachinid Fly is incredible. It looks so complicated for a small fly. I agree with you that the dandelion in that setting is very delightful. I find the red soil and rocks of the east very pleasing.

    1. It reminds us that we live in a beautiful and diverse country, Carol.

  35. I was amused by all those buoys adorning that house, David, but better that they're hung up there than littering the oceans!

    Your accommodation really was spooky - haunted by the Holy Ghost perchance?

    I see that my comment on your previous post, about the weather dbeing kind to you was a little inappropriate. At least the rain didn't persist for days.

    Best wishes to you and Miriam - - - Richard

  36. I can think of a couple of people who would be freaked out by the spiders.

  37. This turned out so wonderfully, and actually it began like that, too, and yes, it´s a small world! Great series.

  38. Buen comienzo de la mañana, con ese gran desayuno. Ahora ya hay energía, para hacer excursiones por la Naturaleza.
    Me han gustado mucho tus fotografías.

  39. You always know how to make the most of the excursions you take. Fortunately, nature is so abundant in inhabitants that if birds are scarce, we can always focus our attention on the invertebrates or the flora of the place. A hug bob


  40. The post is very complete, as you have always accustomed us, showing details of the places you visit and the species you find on your way.
    I was very funny about Darwin, haha. I am also from the same "club" as you.
    And by coincidence there is a lot of fog here now, it was like this all day, now it's 7 C, humid and cool. I'll have more time to see your blog and others, I have so many projects and so little time that I can't cope with my things.

  41. Me encantan siempre vuestros paseos, y siempre tienes algo interesante para mostrar. Un abrazo amigo David.

  42. Another very detailed post about your travels and much appreciated, David. It makes me hopeful that in the near future we will venture out further to visit PEI.

  43. Oh, buoy! That house! Thoroughly enjoyed this installment of your vacation. Lunch in the company of two bald eagles is what stands out to me most!

  44. I honestly would feel a little uneasy with all the biblical stuff too. But the solarium is beautiful...omgosh I have a back door to nowhere too lol...that's a project for next summer to build a deck there! Very neat that Pam knew you! Very small world! The American Herring Gull is beautiful! I will keep my eyes peeled for Don David next time I'm at the ANBL!!! Lovely place to visit!

  45. Hello David,
    The visits with you are always rich in observations. The landscapes are also very beautiful.
    Thanks for the change of scenery

  46. Hi David!!!.. beautiful photos and lovely place... Have a a great weekend...

  47. Two more lovely days that you shared with us. I would have turned that godly sign over right away - I'm not particularly fond of this kind of indoctrination (to put it mildly). Of course you wouldn't find Darwin there!
    But what lovely sightings of birds and insects - that unknown spider looks very interesting. Lovely views as well, both in the more gloomy and sunny weather. I saw those buoys in Maine as well and some houses were just overloaded with them. Less is more...

    1. And in this place there were bibles everywhere, religious instruction books, etc. It verged on creepy!

  48. I'm sure you and Miriam missed Darrell's feasts.

    WOW! That's a lot of buoys!

    How lovely that Pam knew you. A small world indeed.

    Again, a lovely array of pictures, especially of the bird species. I do like spiders but unfortunately I can't help with the identification of that particular one. I like Dandelions too and they are a real treat for Eastern Bearded Dragons here.

    It looks like you both had quite a productive day with all the wildlife sightings. A pity you were only able to catch a fleeting glimpse of the Purple Sandpipers. Maybe next time...


Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that the land on which we are situated are the lands traditionally used by the Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, and Neutral People. We also acknowledge the enduring presence and deep traditional knowledge, laws, and philosophies of the Indigenous Peoples with whom we share this land today. We are all treaty people with a responsibility to honour all our relations.