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Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Along the way

Over the spring and summer months, my husband and I enjoyed our excursions around our island home of Prince Edward. Along the way, we encountered some curiosities which give us pause for their location or appearance. Some are man made, others occur in nature and drew our attention.

A sunflower grew at the end of the salt marsh again this year. Birds or squirrels are the source of the seed which walkers provide for them. Two years ago one sunflower grew near the location of this year’s bloom. We always marvel at such errant blooms.

On a recent trip to our favourite seafood store, the lobster tank held two blue lobsters which are real curiosities. Such lobsters occur 1 in every 2 million lobsters, the genetic anomaly from an over abundance of the pigment crustacyanin.

The boardwalk in Summerside has been undergoing repairs the last two years. This year, the western end of the popular walkway is under repair which includes the bridge over the stream where the squirrels and birds gather to be fed by walkers. We regularly take a photo of the progress on the bridge as we wait for the reopening of this end of the boardwalk.

It hopped in front of us, this Two-striped Grasshopper, an eating machine which loves to dine on crops. It was hopping along the boardwalk. No crops here! 

It was unusual to see this hot air balloon one morning through our bathroom window. We have watched them in Alice Springs, Australia, Las Vegas in the United States and at a festival in Ottawa, Canada one summer. This was the first sighting on our island home. Travel wasn’t necessary this time.

A different kind of bird greeted us along the boardwalk one morning as a Search and Rescue helicopter patrolled the shoreline. A young man was missing and a month later hasn’t been found. 

This convertible 1973 Triumph pulled into a parking lot recently as I waited for my husband. What a beauty for a ride on an warm end of summer day!

Sometimes a dilapidated old vehicle brings a smile. This one was in St. Peter’s Harbour when we visited a few weeks ago. 

Later we saw it at the lawnmower races. But, that’s another story.

Monday, 13 September 2021

At the lighthouse

Lighthouses are a favourite of mine possibly because I have always lived on islands. Listening to my mother describe her time staying at the Lighthouse at Cape Spear, Newfoundland, is part of it too. I have always had a fascination with the structures and Prince Edward Island is a great place to see them. One of my favourite lighthouses is at St. Peter’s Harbour.

This structure nestles behind the sand dunes beside the entrance of the harbour. The lighthouse is in a hollow in the dunes, moved there several years ago by a group of interested citizens, who wanted to save the old building.

The lighthouse had been decommissioned by the government and the citizen group worked on the building to save it. Their hard work has paid off. Now the building is in good shape and is well maintained, in a beautiful setting.

A trail through the dunes 

to the beach opens to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. 

The beach is a beauty, unspoiled, wind swept, and to the west appears to go on forever.

To the east, the pylons for an old wharf are ravaged by sea and time, adding to the rugged beauty of the area. 

St. Peter’s Harbour opens to the south of the old wharf.

As we walk the beach, the old light peaks above the dunes, as it would have done years ago.

It is a link to the past, a reminder of the reassurance it provided fishers and their families all that time ago. 

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Late afternoon in the bay

It was 5 p.m. as we headed home after a day on the northeast coast of Prince Edward Island. As we passed by the bay, we noticed a flock of Great Blue Herons just off-shore. Of course we stopped to take in the scene.

While we were stopped for the herons, the scene on the horizon made us linger as the sun highlighted a band of clouds beneath thick blue cloud cover. The water below looked silver as birds, probably gulls, foraged in the intertidal zone. 

Wading and floating in the water, geese looked peaceful as well. 

However the most dramatic scene became the long shot of the Indian Head Lighthouse with a shimmer of light on its north side, the band of lighter cloud directly behind it and the dark blue cloud overhead. The intertidal zone provided interest in the foreground. The pools of water in that zone reflected the dark blue overhead. That lone white cloud highlighted the lighthouse.

Nature surprises us constantly.

A different harvest




What’s happening here? 

It was the question on some walkers’ minds as they approached an area of the boardwalk in Summerside recently. Cones of a large spruce tree fell every few seconds from the top of the tree onto the boardwalk below. Some people walked around the area of the falling cones and continued along the way, others walked over the fallen cones, oblivious. My husband and I stopped to investigate. 

It didn’t take long to see the source of the falling cones. An industrious Red Squirrel was busy above, nipping off the cones and throwing them from its lofty perch. You can see it here.



The Red Squirrels along the boardwalk are harvesting the cones for their winter stockpile, just like humans harvest various crops this time of year. Harvest is well underway on all fronts.

I had noticed the area filled with cones the previous day and suspected a squirrel harvest but had no proof. 

Today was my lucky day however. One could have been hit by a falling cone without injury but my husband and I stood out of the way as we watched the proceedings. Later, the furry harvester would store the cones in its stockpile for the long winter ahead. Those of yesterday’s harvest look to have been secured already. Today’s harvest was quickly accumulating.

We laughed as we watched the busy squirrel flick the crop out of its paws. We felt privileged to see this harvest.

Sunday, 5 September 2021

Along the shoreline

The boardwalk at Summerside is undergoing repair work and the popular section of the trail where many of the birds, squirrels and chipmunks hang out has been closed to walkers. 

With replacement of the bridge over the stream, workers have drained the area to facilitate construction and the setting has changed a great deal. 

Ducks who frequented the salt marsh have moved on but the usual late summer shorebirds still frequent the shoreline. We walk near the section under construction and enjoy the gazebo and shoreline. We have seen a few birds new to the area this month and enjoy our time observing them.

Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs are walking and feeding along the shoreline these days. The two species are so similar but beak size is a distinguishing feature. They appear to live in harmony together.

One day, watching from the gazebo, I noticed what looked like a small flock of sparrows land on the beach which would be an unusual sight. I watched the birds, obviously not sparrows but Least Sandpipers, the smallest of the sandpipers. They stayed long enough for me to take a photo.

Another day, Black-bellied Plovers stopped for a visit. Eventually I managed a good photo.

One of my favourite days brought the Double-crested Cormorants from the breakwater

to a sandbar near the old Rifle Range. A few Great Black-backed Gulls sat among them. One could imagine the birds chatting, moving around to speak to friends they spot nearby, waiting for fish to enter the channel. Poor fish, though I would have liked to see that fishery.

                                                                           The Stand

Great Blue Herons were vigilant nearby as well, watching everything with those eagle…rather, heron eyes.

The next day, the cormorants were back at The Stand again, this time, a flock of Bonaparte’s Gulls rested on a sand bar in front of them. There is quite a contrast in size between the cormorants and these tiny gulls.

As often as I can, I sit for a time on a rock or a bench, enjoying the breeze with the sun shining and the wonder of birds spread before me. It is a time when the troubles of the world disappear and all is well for a few precious minutes. Perfect!

Thursday, 2 September 2021

Picnic under the birches

Birch trees with their grey/white trunks make a pretty setting any time of year. However, the shade provided on a hot day is reason enough to have a picnic under birch trees. Besides, the leaves trembling to the breeze create a sound I love to hear and can imagine later as I fall asleep. Birches are a wonder of nature.

We have found several stands of birches on Prince Edward Island and my husband and I visited one recently in Green Park in the northwest part of the island. Of course a picnic was in order and we sat in the birch-provided shade on a hot day with the wind blowing through the branches. Perfect.

While we ate, we watched the fishing grounds in the inlet across from our location. 

There, fishers went about their day at the mussels beds. 

On the far side of the inlet, the floats of the oyster beds were visible on the surface of the water. 

Below the water, cages of oysters hang from each float where they are left to grow until October. Then the floats are sunk and cages fall to the sea floor as ice covers the inlet. The floats are drained in the spring, oysters checked for growth and redistributed to cages and hung from floats for another season. Three years growth produces marketable oysters. 

After lunch we walked along the shoreline where the erosion is obvious. 

The birches and other trees are falling into the sea at an alarming rate. It is sad to see these trees disappear down over the bank as the rich red soil is washed away. 

Camp cabins along one area of the shoreline are available for overnight rental in the privately run part of the park. Some people like these better than a tent for camping. 

Two Greater Yellowlegs walked ahead of us along the beach 

and Tall White Asters almost two meters high lined the trail back to the car. 

Overhead, the Mountain Ash trees were full of berries, known as dogberries in my native Newfoundland.

Time at Green Park is good for the spirit.


Monday, 30 August 2021

Along the Acadian coast

The Evangeline region of Prince Edward Island is an area we haven’t fully explored, so my husband and I recently drove along part of that coast. This area is west of Summerside and predominately Acadian, descendants of the original French settlers on the island. French is the first language of the majority of people in this region, representing about 3% of the island’s population. 

We passed the Eglise Notre Dame du Mont Carmel along the way, a large church which dominates the countryside. We stopped at Cape Egmont to see the lighthouse and noticed Notre Dame in the distance, 

certainly visible to the boats at sea. It was a good landmark for fishers in the days prior to satellite navigation systems aboard fishing vessels.

Parking near the lighthouse and looking out, 

we could see the land falls off into the sea, without any fencing to prevent tragedy. Carefully approaching the edge, we discovered a sea stack below with cormorants enjoying the sun. It is interesting the birds frequent one part of the sea stack and not the whole surface.

The cliffs consist of mudstone and sandstone layered from sea level up but red soil makes up a huge portion of the cliff, kept in place by the grass.  

Notice the two young people in the photo above. They are standing in the area below, near the outer edge. Needless to say, we did not venture there.

The sea stack with the cormorants in residence is actually a double sea arch. The smaller arch on the left is newer, having developed over the last year. A walk along the cliffs is necessary to see both of them as the smaller one isn’t visible at every angle. 

In the water below, cormorants land and take off, looking like they are enjoying a dip in the sea on this hot day. One looks to be drying its wings on the water, a behaviour I hadn’t seen before. 

Usually we see spread wings on land.

Further off-shore, the fishing boats are going to and from the Fishing Cove west of the Cape in Egmont Bay. 

It is a windy day and the water is choppy. We were happy to be where we were rather than on that boat. However, we will visit this lighthouse again to watch the progress of the sea stack over time.