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Life in Newfoundland

Tracking the 2021 ice season #1

Halfway through February my attention is always drawn to the North, where sea ice flows down the Labrador shore, slowly making its way to Newfoundland.

This year’s first look reveals there isn’t a whole lot of ice out there at the moment, it’s especially striking in a side-by-side comparison with last year:

Mid-February Ice Chart 2020 vs 2021

Looking back through the archives, sea ice has usually been more widespread by this time of year. To see a similarly minimal ice season we have to go back to 2010:

Mid-February Ice Chart 2010 to 2019

After the no-ice season of 2010, I kept an eye on the situation in 2011 and anticipated the sea ice wouldn’t make it to St. John’s that year either, so I ended up driving to Twillingate and Fogo Island to experience the ice there.

By the look of today’s chart, I think it’s safe to say we won’t be seeing any sea ice in St. John’s this year either, but it will likely flow down a little further than it is right now. To La Scie maybe? To Twillingate and Fogo? We’ll know more in the coming 2 months, so I’ll keep an eye on it and let you know.

January on the trail

Come for the snow, stay for the scenery: winter is a great time to be outside.

Around St. John’s, there are few places better to enjoy the outdoors than the East Coast Trail:

Winter sunrise on the trail – Logy Bay

Crowberry heath under a cover of snow – Logy Bay

Sunrise shadow – Snowshoeing to the Spout

Snowy day at Shoe Cove – Stiles Cove Path, East Coast Trail

Cliffs of the East Coast Trail – Cobbler Path

Evening light and falling snowflakes – Cobbler Path

Of course, winter does require you to watch your step a little more than usual:

Icy steps – Father Troy’s Trail

Stay safe and have fun out there 🙂

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

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