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Thursday 30 May 2019

Goose family update

Six days after our last visit, my husband and I visited Cavendish Grove again to see if the goose family was still around. The little pond with the island was now empty. The nest was abandoned with no sign of the geese.

Meanwhile we’d had three days of heavy rain. Excess water flows from the little pond into the basin below. We decided to have our lunch in the Grove and as we set out our simple fare, we saw a goose family emerge from behind one of the several islands in the basin. This pair had six goslings, one more than we had seen originally.

After my last post about the geese, John from John’s Island suggested the goose going back on the nest meant there were more eggs to hatch. John was probably right. You can check out John’s blog 


If these were the same birds, the male, the larger of the two adults, had no trouble swimming in spite of his injured foot which was visible as he stood on guard near the nest.

The adults left the water and the goslings followed. 

They had more than doubled in size in the last six days. They pecked at the grass and were more adventurous than they had been the previous week. If they strayed too far however, the nearest parent went their way. Both parents were equally vigilant, keeping watch for all intruders.

As we ate lunch, 

we watched the geese in the water again, in a row behind a parent. 

As the parents tipped bottoms up in the water to feed, the goslings did the same. We left them,

hoping to be back another time before they take to wing.

Monday 27 May 2019

Homestead Trail

There are a number of trails in the National Park on Prince Edward Island which my husband and I haven’t explored. Recently we hiked part of the Homestead Trail, which was a new to us. It was a beautiful day, without any wind and too early in the season for mosquitos. The day couldn’t have been more perfect.

The trail cuts through forest,

runs alongside New London Bay, 


sand dunes 

and farmland with fog rising in the morning air.

The trail is well maintained and flat but the setting is varied enough to make it interesting. There are benches and picnic tables along the way. We did the shorter of two loops.

Sea gulls, ducks, yellowlegs and geese abound as we hike the area. A squirrel enjoyed his perch atop an old piece of farm machinery and stayed while we admired him. 

However the most interesting animal for us was a snake. 

Being from Newfoundland where there aren’t any snakes, it was exciting to hear something in the grass just off the trail and discover the Maritime gartersnake. We watched it for a long time as it flicked its tongue and turned its head to follow our every move.

We had a picnic at the end of the trail. The day was a holiday and by the time we finished lunch, the area was busy with walkers and bikers. The crowd was a glimpse of the number of people who will visit the park this summer.

A family of geese

We have seen a nesting goose at Cavendish Grove every spring for a few years now. However we were never lucky enough to see the goslings. This year my husband and I decided to keep checking back until we saw them.

Nine days after our first visit this year, we found a family of geese on the island in the pond where the goose was nesting the week before. The gander kept watch for humans and other predators, being very alert to every movement nearby. 

The goose was able to relax while the gander was the sentinel.

The five goslings were balls of lemon, grey-black fluff. 

They were near their mother at the back of the island. The goose moved back to the downy nest and gradually, the goslings all made their way back to their mother.

Meanwhile the gander had a position away from the goose and goslings on the island, standing when anyone stopped to observe his little family, resting if there weren’t any people nearby. He had an aggressive stance if he felt threatened.

The gander has a damaged foot, having lost part of the webbing and the toes. The bird appears to have adapted to the loss on land. I wonder if it affects him when he is in water? 

We will check in on the little family again to watch the growth of the goslings.

Friday 24 May 2019

Bonshaw in May

Some of our favourite trails on Prince Edward Island are on the Bonshaw Hills, east of home. It was overcast, cool and calm and we only had two hours so we decided to stick to the main trail. It did not disappoint. While the deciduous trees are leafless still, the green of the coniferous trees was rejuvenating.

There were areas where the wind had taken its toll over the last six months. Young trees were felled as if a giant went through and toppled them but not just young trees.

Some of the mature trees succumbed to the high wind this past winter and spring. They were cracked off like match sticks.

The exposed roots on the trail always fascinate me.

These sacred vessels acquire and transport life sustaining nutrients which the tree needs to sustain itself and us ultimately. They are visible in numerous places on the trails.

Along the trail, we stop for a look at the West River,

a popular place for anglers. This area has stairs which provide a short-cut to other trails off the main trail. 

Some of the trees show how busy the woodpeckers are in the hills. 

We see Pileated and Hairy woodpeckers. Neither allows time for a photo.

Part of the trail goes through old homesteads where some huge old trees stand majestically over the countryside. One has a swing probably like it had decades ago.

There are several stands of pine trees along the trail, where the trail is covered with pine needles and the canopy is enclosed. The trees have whorls of empty branches as the tree grows taller. 

We had our picnic at the park where there were a few bikers. The area is busiest when school is over for the summer.

Wednesday 22 May 2019

Duck duck goose

One reason I love Cavendish Grove is the bird life in the basin every spring. Two couples of Canada geese are nesting there this year and two pairs of ducks as well.

Two Northern shovelers rested among last year’s bulrushes. The male is brightly coloured with a long scoop-like beak. 

The female has a similar shaped orange coloured beak and brown plumage which looks like it was hand painted around the perimeter of the feathers.

A pair of Gadwalls also shared the pond. They were more shy than the shovelers and were harder to photograph. The female’s feathers are similar to the female shoveler. 

The male is more distinctive with fine patterns and blocks of colour such as grey and black.

On an island in the pond, a goose sat on her nest. 

We guessed the bird nearby was the gander. He stood sentinel duty, barely moving a muscle. 

Later, after our walk through the Dunelands down by the beach, we walked past the gander and he hissed at my husband and me.

It was our first encounter with a hissing gander and we hadn’t approached or threatened him.

Two other geese were nearby in the high grass. They didn’t bother with us.

We plan to go back to see the little avian community in the Grove soon, hoping to see ducklings or goslings.

Monday 20 May 2019

Northport spring

The port was busy with boats returning with the day’s catch. We watched as they sped through Alberton Harbour, past the old lighthouse, now privately owned, 

and slowed as they neared the entrance to the boat pond.

Inside the pond, 

each boat tied to its berth at the wharf and unloaded the catch. Lobster doesn’t come any fresher.

The fishery is highly regulated and monitored on Prince Edward Island to ensure its sustainability. A Fisheries and Oceans vessel launched 

while we watched and headed out to the fishing grounds. 

It was a sunny day, though cold enough for winter clothing. Nearby, on a sandspit, my husband and I had our picnic, using the car as a windbreak. Two vehicles were parked nearby. While we ate, a small boat pulled up and two oyster fishermen came ashore to have lunch in the warmth of those vehicles. 

It was too cold to eat in the boat on the water.

Nearby, a Greater yellowlegs was unperturbed by the cold or the activity on its little stretch of sand. It waded around in the rising tide, calling out to its friends.

That day, we watched the interaction of humans and nature as it unfolded around us and relished every minute. 

Friday 17 May 2019

The Confederation Trail

The Confederation Trail on Prince Edward Island is the old railbed, reclaimed after the railway was abandoned in 1989. It cuts through the countryside, fields and forests, across streams and rivers. Near our home, the trailway provides a glimpse of the progress of spring.

The fields are being ploughed now, prepared for planting after a wet fall and winter. 

Fiddleheads are erupting along the sides of the trail.

Pussy willows are in bloom.

Many of the trees are in bloom now, before the leaves erupt. On this mid afternoon spring day, the moon shines above us.

Shadows provide art for those who care to stop and take it in.

The trail appears to go on forever over the gentle countryside.