Spring run-off waterfalls

Wow, double-digit temperatures yesterday and today! And I mean above zero!

There is still a lot of snow around but these ‘high’ temperatures are melting it in record time; yesterday we had a foot of snow on the lawn, now it’s all gone. This morning I went for a hike on Father Troy’s Trail to see what the weather was doing for the snow on the trail, and it was pretty much as I expected. Plenty of snow left on the sheltered parts, lots of ice on the well-trodden parts, and soft soggy ground where the snow has finally melted.

Near Church Cove I ran into this:

Spring waterfall - Father Troy's Trail

Spring waterfall – Father Troy’s Trail

I added the red line to show you how I usually cross this small stream, over a couple of stepping stones. Today the spring run-off transformed this peaceful waterfall into a raging river, well, almost.

For good measure I also checked out the waterfall on Silver Mine Head Path, this river is difficult enough to cross on a regular day, now it was just an accident waiting to happen:

Motion River Falls - Silver Mine Head Path

Motion River Falls – Silver Mine Head Path

Oh, and I saw my first blackfly of the season! Good times ahead :)

Posted in East Coast Trail | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Eagles return to Cuckolds Cove

Last year a pair of Bald Eagles moved into a nest on Cuckolds Cove Trail, a mere 10 minute walk from the Cabot Tower on Signal Hill.

This year they have returned to the same location, as is customary for Bald Eagles. They’ve been on their nest for a while now, and today I walked down the trail to have a look for myself, and to count the eggs. Last year they had two eggs, of which one hatched, and one young eagle was successfully raised.

This year I count two eggs again, as does this eagle upon returning to the nest:

An eagle counting eggs - Cuckolds Cove Trail

An eagle counting eggs – Cuckolds Cove Trail

Apparently, one visiting bird watcher counted three eggs earlier, I don’t know if this was a miscount or perhaps one egg is just out of view in this picture. We’ll see next month when the eggs hatch, probably somewhere in the first two weeks of May.

Posted in Grand Concourse, Wildlife | Tagged | 6 Comments

The icebergs are stuck

Looking at today’s iceberg chart at the Canadian Ice Service, you’ll see a huge amount of icebergs on the grid:

Iceberg Chart April 10 2014 - Canadian Ice Service

Iceberg Chart April 10 2014 – Canadian Ice Service

Is this a reason to get excited? If you like icebergs it is, but only when you keep in mind that the vast majority of these bergs is still stuck in the ice:

April 8th satellite image – Image Credit: NASA/GSFC, Rapid Response

April 8th satellite image – Image Credit: NASA/GSFC, Rapid Response

In all this sea ice the icebergs have little room to move or break free, so it could be a while before we see them on our coast.

Still, it’s pretty exciting!

Posted in Day to day life | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Spring snowshoe to the Spout

What a gorgeous spring day, perfect for snowshoeing, so that’s what I did!

The snow was very cooperative, hardened tracks from last weekend’s snowmobiles and snowshoers made the going very easy, all the way to the coast. Here are some pictures of the day:

There were snowless patches all over the barrens, fortunately the marsh below was still frozen solid:

Patches of spring - Overland route to Spout

Patches of spring – Overland route to Spout

Snowmobile tracks led all the way into the forest and down the hill towards the Spout:

Snowmobile tracks - Overland route to Spout

Snowmobile tracks – Overland route to Spout

The frozen ‘volcano’ around the Spout was quite impressive:

Frozen spring Spout - Spout Path

Frozen spring Spout – Spout Path

When I got back to the car I was as red as a lobster, that’s what you get with bright sun from above and reflective snow below…

Totally worth it though!

Posted in East Coast Trail | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Dead Sperm Whale in Biscay Bay

Marije and I drove to Biscay Bay on the Southern Shore Highway today, spurred on by news of a washed-up whale. The initial report I read was about a dead Humpback Whale, but soon I heard it might be a Sperm Whale instead, so Marije and I were even more excited having never seen a Sperm Whale before.

After a long and beautiful drive we arrived in Biscay Bay, where Marije immediately spotted the Sperm Whale glistening in the sun. It was in the water but close to shore, just a short walk down the beach:

Marije and the Sperm Whale - Biscay Bay

Marije and the Sperm Whale – Biscay Bay

Sperm Whale tail fin - Biscay Bay

Sperm Whale tail fin – Biscay Bay

Smelly whale tongue - Biscay Bay

Smelly whale tongue – Biscay Bay

The smell was pretty bad when we got closer, but thanks to the wind we were able to choose a spot on the beach where the odour was minimal. The whale was still in great shape, only its tongue was bloated and there were some skin marks, perhaps from rolling around on the rocks. When we arrived the whale was half submerged, but with the tide going out we decided to wait and see what else would be revealed.

As Marije unpacked her lunch next to the dead whale, a Mink swam by, climbed on top of the whale and enjoyed his lunch too:

Mink has a Sperm Whale for lunch - Biscay Bay

Mink has a Sperm Whale for lunch – Biscay Bay

In case you’re wondering, that’s the right side pectoral fin he’s munching on.

After a while, blisters started appearing under the whales’ skin, they grew quickly under the influence of the warm spring sun:

Blisters form and quickly grow - Biscay Bay

Blisters form and quickly grow – Biscay Bay

Waiting for the tide to recede paid off when we got a great look at the jaw of the whale:

Sperm Whale teeth - Biscay Bay

Sperm Whale teeth – Biscay Bay

This next shot shows the whale head on, so you’re looking into its mouth:

Dead Sperm Whale - Biscay Bay

Dead Sperm Whale – Biscay Bay

After a while, pieces of whale started floating towards the shoreline, and ended up on the seaweed:

Whale meat - Biscay Bay

Whale meat – Biscay Bay

Before we left we spoke to two locals who knew more about the situation; this whale had been swimming in the bay earlier this week, very close to the river mouth. Three days ago it washed up in this location, and the tide has been playing with it since then.

If you want to have a look for yourself, this is where we found it today:

Sperm Whale location in Biscay Bay, Newfoundland

Sperm Whale location in Biscay Bay, Newfoundland

It may be gone with the tide again soon, so don’t wait too long!

Posted in Wildlife | 8 Comments

King Eider in Blackhead

Yes another duck, but this one is royalty!

Common Eider ducks visit us every year in winter, and usually they stay far away from me. For years I have taken pictures of Eider rafts in the distance, and they don’t really show much except that there’s a lot of ducks swimming close together.

Today I was lucky though, I approached a raft of Eiders in Blackhead, and instead of swimming away they swam in closer! Soon I was able to see individual ducks, and then this handsome fellow presented himself:

King Eider - Blackhead

King Eider – Blackhead

I knew there was a chance of a King among the commoners, but even so it took me a while to find it in the group, there were just so many ducks:

Common Eiders - Blackhead

Common Eiders – Blackhead

Posted in Wildlife | 4 Comments