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Sunday 7 April 2024

To the park

The grips of winter on the island have loosened and snow and ice are gone. One day this past week, my husband and I woke to a sunny day and a forecast of 9 degrees Celsius. After days of rain, it was a perfect day for an excursion to Cavendish, our first for the year. 


We love the area of the National Park on Prince Edward Island, the trails, beaches, dunes and ponds. The park has been a source of immense enjoyment over the years and we look forward to spring as it heralds months of enjoyment in the park and elsewhere on the island.


Our first visit left us feeling sad however. Over the last few years, the erosion in the park has been dramatic along the coastline. Orby Head, where one could look east and west along the shoreline from the centre of the island, is gone. The shoreline above the cliffs is undermined so much the area isn’t accessible any more. We always watched the cormorants who hung out at Orby and this is one of my last photos of them.





At the look-out in Cavendish, damage to the boardwalk from Fiona is being removed and the area returned to nature while a new boardwalk and look-out are under construction. 





The area which had tables where we had picnics, even in winter, is no longer accessible since it is undermined too.


Elsewhere, as we walked along the trail by Clark’s Pond,





it is shocking to see how many more trees have come down this winter. 





Here, Bald Eagles, gorge on the fish in Clark’s Pond which migrate from the sea up-river to spawn. The eagles will have to compete for a place to rest atop a tree as they allow their food to settle before heading back to their nesting areas.


This young Bald Eagle, 





between 2 and 3 years old was a bit early for the smelt run which is beginning now. This one looks like it has been through a rough time resulting in mangled tail feathers. You can see in the photo that snow was falling in Cavendish despite the sunny day in Summerside. We hope to get more photos of the Eagles this coming week. 


Meanwhile, the western portion of the island will experience the total solar eclipse today. We hope to find an uncrowded beach location later to view the eclipse using our solar glasses.


Also, another natural phenomenon which is on-going these days is  iceberg season off the coast of Newfoundland. Most bergs are broken pieces of glaciers from western Greenland and a small percentage are from Canada’s Arctic. They travel through the Labrador Sea south along the coast of Labrador and eventually off Newfoundland in the North Atlantic.


I always enjoy seeing the incredible photos and videos of the icebergs which are posted on the Facebook page, Newfoundland and Labrador Iceberg Reports. If you put that name in Facebook Search on top of the Facebook Page, the site will come up. You can browse or add it to your feed.


Despite the changes to the park, nature has a lot to offer us this week. We hope to enjoy it to the fullest.





Sunday 31 March 2024

Out and about

She crossed the parking lot as my husband parked the car. We were out for the last shop for our Easter family dinner which is today. A few last minute items made a weekend shopping trip essential.


I noticed the yoga pants the woman wore which had a beautiful cut-work design on the lower part of each leg, highlighting each calf. The black pants looked great on her, a woman probably in her fifties.


When I went inside the store, she was at the check-out, and as I passed, I complimented her on the pants and how great they looked on her. She said, “Thank you. Now if I was just smaller…”


Her reaction didn’t surprise me. So often women won’t take a compliment without denigrating ourselves in some way, especially about our weight or size. Such insecurities are the result of lifelong learning and are tough to relinquish especially in a society focussed on “thin.” It is easy to feel inadequate in such a world. However, a compliment from a random stranger can brighten the day if one accepts it without qualification.


I will continue my effort to brighten at least one person’s day, every day.

                                                 ——————


We’ve had a miserable week of weather with high winds and rain. Snow only clings to shaded areas now. My most recent photo of the marina shows the last of the ice which is now gone.





Spring, glorious spring!






Sunday 24 March 2024

The sights and sounds of spring

While spring broke through the remnants of winter last week, my husband and I watched for the signs of spring we see every year as we walk the boardwalk in Summerside.


The bay was free of ice on the first day of spring and including the mouth of the bay, unlike two days earlier. This scene always reminds me how endangered the island is when it comes to rising sea levels.





At the mouth of the Wilmot River, we discovered the huge flock of Canada Geese we had seen overhead. The return of the geese in mid to late March is always a rite of spring.





The Song Sparrows returned to our garden last week. We have seen them around the yard and look forward to their serenade in the early morning when we can leave the windows open again. Meanwhile, we hadn’t heard them singing yet until one day, along the boardwalk where many sparrows nest, a hardy little bird was singing one of the first serenades of the year.





The robins are back and while others have seen them, we saw our first of the season yesterday.





A strong on-shore wind blew ice back into the bay this past weekend. The ice is diminished compared to the previous week and is mainly slushy now. Walking along by the shoreline however, one can hear pieces of ice cracking, a spring sound to anyone who is familiar with an icy sea.





The gulls have been raving about spring too, with their best calls to the sea, a sound that is music to my soul. 





March every year, Black Scoters, diving ducks which visit the island every winter, spend time feeding in the bay before they head north to breed. We saw the ducks and heard their whistles on Sunday. They are part of the symphony of spring.





Winter is holding on to the island, but the signs of spring around us keep us hopeful and eager to experience the season.














Saturday 16 March 2024

A warm sunny day and an eagle update

We had a few windy and rainy days this past week which kept us inside but our weather has been lovely the last few days. On Saturday, we decided to go to the head of the bay to see if the Bald Eagles were in residence. 


Along the way, we stopped at a section of the boardwalk near the marina to walk by the bay. This  area still has ice as does the protected water of the marina. 





By April, boats will start to fill the marina for another season.


Along the way, the Indian Point Lighthouse is visible in the distance and at first glance, looks like an addition to the wharf.





There are piles of snow yet to melt in this area but people were out enjoying the setting on the beautiful blue sky day, oblivious to the snow nearby.





In this section of boardwalk, you pass the shed of the sailing school and a boat is part of the Package Deal.





Meanwhile, the Bald Eagles at the head of the bay were in the top of the tree where I had seen one perched previously. 





Both were alert, in close proximity to their nest. I wonder how long before we see eaglets over the top of the nest?





On the bay, a small flock of Canada Geese stayed together near the shoreline. The geese looked to be enjoying the day as much as we were.





We may head further from home if the weather stays mild next week.

Sunday 10 March 2024

The news around here

We had an awful week weather-wise and missed our walks in the great outdoors. Treadmill life doesn’t agree with me. The weather was mild though, including high winds and rain, taking the snow. Then, the temperatures dropped again and the snow came back.


Meanwhile, the ice in the harbour blew off-shore again, and when we could finally ventured forth, the bay was blue…for a day. 





Sunday morning, the on-shore wind overnight had blown ice back in the bay. It isn’t as thick now though so it may not survive temperatures above zero for very long.





Meanwhile, we have had our new vehicle for over two months now. In that time we have driven over 900 kilometres but haven’t used a tank of gas. The plug-in hybrid vehicle works well for us. 


This time of year, unless an emergency arises, we don’t venture far from home. We drive around town on errands, to the boardwalk or to our family in the neighbouring community. We can drive another 600 plus kilometres on the gas remaining in the tank. We started with a full tank when we brought the car home.


The vehicle is slow to charge due to the trickle charger we use at home, which can take 15 hours if the battery is fully discharged. However, we don’t see any difference to our electric bill. The electric battery is good for over 50 kilometres and when it is depleted while we are driving, it switches seamlessly to the gas engine. It charges without a sound as well. It is a different experience to drive a silent car. We know it is on by “Ready” on the screen. 


We have yet to try one of the charge-point stations on the island but a visit to Cavendish in the near future will give us an opportunity to try one. These high speed chargers won’t be in demand in the park this time of year.


This vehicle has far more features than I will ever use. I only use the radio and heater. When the weather is warm, I will open the windows rather than use air conditioning most of the time. I understand why cars today have all the “bells and whistles” but I suspect there would be a market for basic vehicles with reduced costs. Wouldn’t such vehicles be easier on the electric batteries too?


The infrastructure for charging vehicles on the island is limited. The same is true all over the country. In addition, the life of an electric rechargeable battery is limited and they are costly to replace. Charging takes time. If one could turn in a battery and drop in a new one at a charging station, it might be a solution. However, the batteries have their own environmental issues. Electric is not a perfect fix to the pollution of fossil fuels. Besides, could the electric grid supply enough electricity for a world of such vehicles?


While we are happy with our rechargeable hybrid, we can’t see a future with just electric vehicles. Is hydrogen the answer? I cannot imagine we will live to see the fix, whatever it is. Meanwhile, as with everything else in life, we endeavour to make the most of what is.


Sunday 3 March 2024

The dance

When the cares of the world feel overwhelming I retreat to nature. There, for a few minutes during a walk, all is forgotten as the elements and the wildlife present their best to all who care to notice. 


Such was the case one day last month, on what looked like a spring day, the salt marsh held the imprints of a small flock of American Black Ducks which appeared to have danced there. 




Their ducky prints are easy to identify among the other animal footprints in the marsh. 


In the stream that day, a Red-breasted Merganser, was veiled behind branches as it dived for food. Usually only dabbling ducks swim there, so this diver was a welcome visitor.





The Black Ducks, common to the area and a visiting Mallard argued a lot that day. If one came too close to the other species, flight occurred. It was a busy stream that day.





A mallard took up residence recently along the stream. He is a handsome stand-out among the more familiar Black Ducks. His companion, a Black Duck, stayed close by, 





relaxed in the setting until multiple Blue Jays sent out an alert.





One day recently, people watched the ducks as a Bald Eagle swooped in on them. All escaped thanks to the early warning system of the jays.


The little birds deserve credit too. Various feeders along the boardwalk attract sparrows, juncos 



                   Dark-eyed Junco, back; Song Sparrow, middle; Tree Sparrow, front


and finches. I especially like these sightings, as the tiny birds present a real challenge to photograph as they flit about more quickly than the ducks.



                                                                         Goldfinch

I always spend time looking out to sea with its changing face which is determined by temperature, wind speed/direction and tide. My husband and I always wonder what the bay will be like on any particular day.


A frozen bay one day, with an off-shore wind, can become an open bay, as in the first photo.


On-shore wind will blow the ice into the bay again, and land and sea are one.





Sometimes the ocean’s surface freezes anew and one could imagine ice skating there.





Then, there’s the slushy ice surface on those days when the temperatures are above zero and it feels like spring.



     

The Red Squirrels deserve mention too. They are always out and about, waiting for a hand-out from walkers who often have peanuts for them. You never know when a squirrel will pop up somewhere.




The wonder of nature is itself like a dance where nature sets the tempo of the music and we are free to engage her.


I hope you enjoy the dance too.