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Life in Newfoundland

Find a snowy owl

Have you ever gone looking for a snowy owl?

In Newfoundland, late fall is a great time to do this, because these big white owls are easy to spot among the fading fall colours of the barrens where they like to hunt.

On the Avalon, two locations are especially well known for their November-December snowy owl sightings: Cape Spear and Cape Race.

At Cape Spear, just walk up to the lighthouse, then hike south over Cape Spear Path. If a snowy owl is around, you’ll likely see it perched on one of the many rocks along the trail:

Snowy owl – Cape Spear Path, East Coast Trail

One trail further south, Motion Path offers quite similar scenery and owl sighting potential. Just look at all this open ground, pretty much ideal for a skilled bird of prey:

Snowy owl hunting grounds – Motion Path, East Coast Trail

On both trails, be sure to bring a pair of binoculars so you can scan the landscape looking for anything white!

At Cape Race, about 2 hours and 20 minutes south of St. John’s, sightings are frequently reported by birders driving up and down the road from Portugal Cove South to the lighthouse. While spotting birds and other wildlife from a heated car is no doubt more comfortable then a walk down the East Coast Trail at this time of year, I’d personally pick a scenic hike over a scenic drive every time. 🙂

Autumn scenery in Newfoundland

October is a special time of year to be outdoors, and just in case it’s difficult for some of you to get out of town right now, here is some autumnal Newfoundland scenery you can enjoy from the comfort of your home:

Aerial view of La Manche Provincial Park

Fall colours above Petty Harbour

Aerial view of Stiles Cove Path, on the East Coast Trail

Fall colours at the Suspension Bridge – La Manche Village Path

Stormy day at the Ferryland lighthouse

Wild colours along the trail – Piccos Ridge Path

Blustery sunset – Bauline

These photos are all from my fall visit to Newfoundland in 2018. 🙂

Fall on the East Coast Trail

Fall hiking is here

You must have noticed, there’s a chill in the air. Colourful leaves are starting to appear along the trail. Streams are moving a little bit faster, waves are crashing a little bit louder, and waterfalls will soon be gushing forth from the cliffs: fall hiking is here 🙂

If for some reason you’re holding on to summer, these fall-coloured hikes on the East Coast Trail will soon get you in the mood for what’s next:

Starrigans in a brightly coloured marsh – Motion Path

Walking down Bawdens Highland – Sugarloaf Path

Looking towards Maddox Cove – Cape Spear Path

Above Dungeon Cove – Spout Path

Harbour seal – La Manche Village Path

Shag Rocks Cove – Cape Broyle Head Path

East Coast Trail Guide v1.12

To help you find your next hike, check out the East Coast Trail Guide, which was just updated to version 1.12:

Find your next hike on the East Coast Trail

Cliffs and Berries on Biscan Cove Path

The next time you’re hiking Biscan Cove Path, just north of Pouch Cove, have a look at the interesting cliff formations around Freshwater Falls:

Cliffs near Freshwater Falls – Biscan Cove Path

The Wave – Biscan Cove Path

These exposed layers of rock are fun to explore and easy to get to if you don’t mind a bit of climbing. While I wouldn’t have been surprised to find a geology class being taught here there was no one around when I took these photos, so I walked through this picture myself to add some scale to the scene.

Colours in Freshwater Falls – Biscan Cove Path

Aside from the rock formations, the waterfall, and the ocean views, there were berries on the cliffs as well, they just weren’t ripe yet:

Marshberries – Biscan Cove Path

Because they grow on the exposed rocks right near the ocean, marshberries bushes don’t grow up, they grow out, spreading over the cliffs with thin leads always looking for new spots to latch onto.

After spending some time on the cliffs I stepped back into the forest:

Forest hike – Biscan Cove Path, East Coast Trail

Many trails on the East Coast Trail are like this, winding through quiet sections of forest between cliffside viewpoints.

Before long, the forest opened up into a clearing filled with raspberry and blueberry bushes. This area of the Avalon is known for these berry patches, and I had no trouble filling up a few containers, even as I snacked on them and took their picture:

Delicious berries – East Coast Trail

Get ready for the 2020 Perseids!

This week, Earth is moving through a cloudy trail of space dust left in our solar system ages ago. When Earth’s atmosphere hits this dust it looks like stars are shooting across the night sky: it’s the annual Perseid meteor shower!

Here’s how to enjoy the show from Newfoundland:

  • Get out of town, far away from bright lights. In addition to messing up your night vision, city lights illuminate the sky above you, making it harder to see meteors. Go to a suitably dark place you already know, like one of the wide-open trails on the East Coast Trail.
  • Go either tonight or tomorrow night, and watch from midnight to dawn. You can see them before midnight too, but generally speaking the later the hour the better the show.
  • Around St. John’s, the weather forecast is very good for tonight, and pretty good for tomorrow night too! That doesn’t happen every year so make use of it while you can!

The photo above this story was taken 10 years ago on the Beamer, the very first time I enjoyed the Perseid meteor shower from Newfoundland. 🙂

Have fun and stay safe!

2020 Capelin are rolling on Middle Cove beach

For the last two days, capelin have been rolling on Middle Cove and Outer Cove beach. The first report of increased whale and seabird activity in the area came in on Tuesday on the Capelin Calendar, and sure enough the capelin rolled later that night!

For obvious reasons I can’t be there myself this year, but I thoroughly enjoyed the show last year so here are some pictures from the capelin roll in July 2019:

Colourful capelin – Middle Cove beach

I just love the colourful backs of capelin on a sunny day. There were few people around when I was there, so the capelin were leisurely cruising along the weeds at the shallow end of the beach:

Capelin in shallow water – Middle Cove beach

Capelin on a sunny day – Middle Cove beach

Here’s nearby Outer Cove beach, nice and quiet too:

A sunny day at the beach – Outer Cove beach

Look closely at the colours on the beach and in the water, those sandy coloured areas are covered in capelin eggs! 🙂

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