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Life in Newfoundland

Night on Torbay Point

Six years ago tonight, I was out on Torbay Point watching the night sky. Torbay Point has always been a favourite place of mine to go stargazing, with unobstructed views all around it’s easy to see both the sunset at the start of a night out and the sunrise at the end of it.

Here’s a look at the last glimmer of dusk before nightfall:

Serene nightfall at Torbay Point – Cobbler Path

I knew ahead of time the sky might be a little too hazy for a clear view of the annual Lyrid meteor shower, so I had a couple of backup ideas, like this staircase lit by glow sticks:

Glowing stairs to Torbay Point – Cobbler Path

If you’re wondering if those white things on the horizon are icebergs, they are not. If I’d been out on the coast this week they very well could have been, but 2011 was a notoriously poor year for icebergs on the Avalon Peninsula, as I documented in the ‘iceberg seasons through the years‘ section of my Icebergs in Newfoundland page.

The white stripes on the horizon are in fact the lights of ships passing by. You can see the horizon is practically filled with them in the 4-hour panoramic photo featured on top of this post.

While I was waiting for my camera to complete that complex sequence, I laid back with music in my ears watching the tail end of the meteor shower. I saw a couple of very bright slow burners, so even without taking photos it was totally worth it just lying there with my eyes fixed on the starry sky above.

After my panoramic shot was finished, I took one last shot of the moon rising up from a cloudy horizon to the east, before I went home to get some sleep:

Cloudy moonrise – Cobbler Path

Newfoundland sea ice, late April 2017

Today was one of those rare clear days with blue skies everywhere, a good day for a hike and a brilliant day for satellite images:

Newfoundland sea ice on satellite – April 25, 2017

This image shows that sea ice is still present from St. Anthony down to Bonavista, but the sea ice on the Avalon is now almost gone. You can also see most of the island is still covered in snow…

Satellite images like these are available at NASA Worldview.

2017 Lyrids over Newfoundland

Foggy and cloudy weather will likely prevent anyone on the Avalon from seeing this year’s Lyrid meteor shower’s peak, which is today. However, the Lyrids last an entire week, and I’ve had success several times before just catching the start or tail end of the show, so you may see them yet!

Right now the forecast is promising for the early hours of next Monday and Tuesday. To see shooting stars flying overhead, find a suitably dark place away from city lights and look up. There’s no need to look in any particular direction, you’ll catch the most meteors just by lying down on a warm blanket and staring into space above you.

If you do go out, bundle up, it’s still pretty cold…

New iceberg information page

Today I added a new page about icebergs to my blog.

On this page, called Icebergs in Newfoundland, anyone interested in icebergs can scroll back through years of iceberg seasons to see when icebergs first appeared on the coast and when the last of them melted. I’ve gathered this information for 3 key areas in Newfoundland, going all the way back to 2005. Seasons for sea ice (pack ice) are also listed, as are polar bear sightings, since they are so closely related to the sea ice.

During my upcoming iceberg trip through Newfoundland I’ll use the comment section below this new page to share my iceberg sightings with you, much like I do on the Capelin Calendar and the Whales in Newfoundland page.

I will also share links to interesting icebergs on social media, to iceberg stories in the news, and of course you are very welcome to share your sightings on this page too.

Dawn companion

Sunrise hikers often see animals and animal behaviour that isn’t easily seen during the day. When I still lived in Newfoundland I went out on sunrise hikes all the time, and on many occasions I would run into inquisitive foxes.

Fox at sunrise – Signal Hill

Curious by nature, these foxes would often come over to check me out, weary at first but soon confident enough to walk right up to me. Depending on my response a fox would then either continue on its way or it would join me, follow in my footsteps, or quietly sit down beside me as I set up my tripod to photograph the morning landscape:

Dawn companion – Signal Hill

These ‘dawn companions’ were usually solitary but one time they joined me as a pair, playing a game of tag as they jumped up and down and ran circles around me, probably still young foxes. On occasion I’d follow a fox around in return, together stalking prey along the trail, their nose to the ground, their head tilting this way and that, to better pick up sounds underground and in the forest. Foxes are cool!

Never feed wildlife

The fox in the pictures above was a particularly friendly fox that lived near Signal Hill. Well aware of the human habit of having a Tim Hortons breakfast while watching the sunrise, this fox would often approach vehicles and ‘beg’ for scraps. If you’re ever approached by a fox like that, please don’t feed it. These foxes know perfectly well how to hunt and take care of themselves, but if they get fed every morning they may eventually forget some of their tricks, which is bad news when winter comes around again and Signal Hill no longer provides a free breakfast every morning…

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