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Life in Newfoundland
Whale season in Newfoundland

Whale season in Newfoundland

In Newfoundland, summer is whale season.

Right now, humpbacks are showing up everywhere and they’re easily spotted from cliffside viewpoints and hiking trails around St. John’s:

Humpback whales near shore – Cape Spear

When hungry humpbacks arrive in St. John’s Bay, they like to go back and forth between Cuckolds Cove and Cape Spear, in hot pursuit of tasty capelin that are pushed up against a cliff or corralled into a cove:

Humpback whale scooping up capelin – Cape Spear

Humpback whale snaps its mouth shut – Cape Spear

Barnacles on a humpback whale – Cape Spear

Panicked capelin erupting at the surface – Cape Spear

Another lovely humpback portrait – Cape Spear

These photos are from my visit to Cape Spear last summer, when the capelin were chased so close to shore I was able to get these shots from the main viewpoint!

If you’ve spotted a whale putting on a performance, why not spread the joy and share your sighting on the Whales in Newfoundland page.

Because of travel restrictions, many people are staying in Newfoundland this year, so why not make the most of it: these whales are happy to entertain. 🙂

Exploring the Baie Verte Peninsula

Last year Marije and I spent our summer vacation in Newfoundland, starting our trip with few days of sightseeing on the Baie Verte Peninsula, an area we hadn’t visited before.

While we were kind of expecting to see whales and capelin, we were delighted to see bears and moose and caribou as well, there were even a few icebergs still around:

Summer iceberg – Jackson’s Cove

Summer iceberg – Jackson’s Cove

Backlit iceberg – Jackson’s Cove

Our base of exploration was La Scie, where we arrived after our iceberg watching trip, just in time for sunset:

Sunset on the cliffs – La Scie

Sunset on the cliffs – La Scie

The next day, on our first full day on the Peninsula, we drove around to see all the different little towns and harbours, stopping often when we spotted something by the side of the road:

Black bear – Baie Verte Peninsula

This bear walked away before I could get my camera from the backseat, but still it was fun seeing it forage among the fresh greens.

Scenic harbour house – Shoe Cove

This old house is nestled on the cliffs in Shoe Cove, not far from La Scie.

Ocean View Trail – Fleur de Lys

This is the Ocean View Trail in Fleur de Lys, we were hoping to see whales or icebergs here too but if they were out there at all we couldn’t see them through the fog. Still, a lovely area for a walk.

On day 3, the fog was still around, and so was the rain, so we explored a few walking trails close to our motel in La Scie:

Steps to the beach – La Scie

At the beach, gulls were circling above, and I found capelin eggs in patches here and there, they had clearly spawned there earlier that day…

Caplin Cove Trail was very pretty in the fog:

Caplin Cove Trail – La Scie

Caplin Cove Trail – La Scie

Caplin Cove Trail – La Scie

Marije on the wet trail – La Scie

As you can see this kind of weather really brings out the colour on the rocks and trees, and even though we got wet, we still had a great time 🙂

East Coast Trail Guide, Version 1.11

With an abundance of space and fresh air, the East Coast Trail is a great place to get away from it all, now more so than ever.

Today I’m happy to announce the latest version of the East Coast Trail Guide, Newfoundland’s #1 digital hiking guide:

Here’s what’s new

Version 1.11 of the East Coast Trail Guide:

    • offers newly organized difficulty levels
    • offers much improved overview maps
    • includes the new bridge and trail extension on Silver Mine Head Path
    • includes the new parking area and access trail on Cobbler Path
    • merges Blackhead Path into Cape Spear Path
    • merges Mudder Wet Path into Spurwink Island Path
    • adds new photos to the guide
    • adds many other helpful improvements

Get it on Apple Books

Read more about the East Coast Trail Guide or head over to Apple Books to get the first chapter for free.

Tracking the 2020 ice season #3

A full month of bad news and bad weather has passed since my last look at the 2020 ice season, but yesterday’s sky was clear enough for another beautiful satellite picture:

Satellite image of Newfoundland’s sea ice – April 13, 2020

As you can see, the sea ice has all but gone from Central Newfoundland, it’s now only bountiful around the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula.

Have a look at last month’s situation to see the difference.

COVID-19 Update

For years I’ve been keeping track of Newfoundland’s ice seasons to get myself and others excited for the new iceberg season. This year I was hoping to hike the East Coast Trail again if the iceberg season looked promising.

But now, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying home on Prince Edward Island.

If you live in Newfoundland and you’re excited about the arrival of the icebergs, that’s great, but don’t drive around the island to go and see them, wait for them to come to you.

For the time being, please just stay at home as much as possible and enjoy what your own community has to offer. When the snow melts in a few weeks and you do go out on a trail near you, listen to public health advisories and keep a healthy distance from each other. 🙂

Stay safe everybody!

Tracking the 2020 ice season #2

It’s been 3 weeks since my first look at Newfoundland’s advancing sea ice, and because today was another clear sunny day we’re able to have another look from above:

Satellite image of Newfoundland’s sea ice – March 13, 2020

You can see how the ice has moved further along Iceberg Alley, much like a river of ice flowing down the coast. Three weeks ago the ice hadn’t quite reached LaScie and Twillingate, now it has and more, with some fingers of ice grasping at the shores of the Bonavista and Avalon Peninsulas:

A closer look at Newfoundland’s sea ice – March 13, 2020

As far as icebergs are concerned, today’s chart shows their numbers are increasing, with a few present near the Avalon already, but note in the lower-right corner that these numbers are based on a reconnaissance flight from a few days ago:

Today’s iceberg chart – Canadian Ice Service

Wouldn’t it be amazing to be on a plane like that, flying over the ice and charting the location of all these icebergs coming down the line? Sign me up!

Tracking the 2020 ice season #1

We’re getting close to the end of February so let’s have a look at Newfoundland’s advancing sea ice. In the coming months I’ll keep an eye on it just like I do every sea ice and iceberg season.

First, here’s today’s satellite picture:

Satellite image of Iceberg Alley – February 24, 2020

Wow. Look at all that sea ice! Nearly all of Iceberg Alley is visible on satellite today thanks to ‘fair’ weather from the Torngat Mountains in Labrador to Signal Hill in downtown St. John’s.

Let’s have a closer look at Newfoundland for a minute:

Satellite image of Newfoundland’s sea ice – February 24, 2020

As you can see the ice has already made it around both sides of the Great Northern Peninsula, flowing into the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the left but not quite making it all the way to La Scie and Twillingate on the right just yet.

I can’t wait to see what this ice season looks like in a few months, by the looks of this satellite photo there will be plenty of sea ice, and by the looks of this next chart, perhaps some early icebergs too:

Today’s iceberg chart – Canadian Ice Service

The grid numbers are still low but keep in mind it’s only February, in a few more weeks we’ll know much more about the upcoming season. 🙂

If at all possible, I will visit Newfoundland again this year, though I’m not sure of it will be spring, summer, or fall. Here’s hoping!

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