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Thursday 30 April 2020

Animal antics

The animal residents of the boardwalk provide lots of entertainment as we walk there every day. On a recent windy day a bird feeder containing sunflower seeds hung from a branch swaying in the breeze.

The squirrel stretched down from a nearby branch and grasped the feeder as it swayed in the wind.

It held onto the upper branch with its hind paws as it scooped up as many seeds as it could handle. 

Drawing itself back onto the the upper branch, it sat and nibbled the seeds, then repeated the acrobatics for more. 

In spite of tremendous, the little animal persevered. I admire its determination.


I live on the east coast of Canada, on Prince Edward Island. Prior to my life here, I lived on the eastern most island of Canada, an island in the North Atlantic called Newfoundland. I am an islander in every sense.

Sunday 26 April 2020

Along the way 2

During the Covid 19 pandemic, my husband and I take the same walk any day the weather permits. We are never bored because there are new animal visitors, environmental changes or walkers bring something new to the area. It is never boring.

If one is observant, even the smallest woolly bear doesn’t escape attention. This one was active the last week of April while there is snow on the ground in places. We were surprised to see it when temperatures still drop below freezing. 

This feeder has been in place for the last year but we don’t recall seeing this motorcycle until recently.

We expect to see one of the squirrels or chipmunks riding it one of these days.

Recently someone piled these rocks, reminiscent of an Inukshuk, an Inuit stone pile to signify human form. While this formation doesn’t look like a traditional Inukshuk, from a distance it catches one’s eye briefly as a figure of a child.

Last month, someone drew a chalk face on one of the trees along the boardwalk. 

The question mark is intriguing. What is it questioning? The drawing has survived the last month in all weather. I’d like to know more about it.

At the end of the boardwalk the natural piece of art always catches my eye.

I love its stark presence on the edge of the shoreline, something to hold on to against the elements. It is a great example of how good roots keep us secure.

One day a fellow walker parked her AMC Rebel in the parking lot. 

It was an curious addition to the modern vehicles present there, harkening back to the days of our youth.

There is always something new or old to see along the boardwalk.

Thursday 23 April 2020

They’re back

This time of year Osprey return to the nests along by the harbour in Summerside. They returned last week and people were eager to observe and photograph them. My husband and I stopped to see them too.

There are three nests in the area and three birds have taken up residence in one of the nests thus far. Nests sit atop platforms on poles positioned for the birds by the city. One pole is tipped but the birds don’t appear to mind. 

Birds return to the same nests which have been maintained for years.

One of the nests is in a place which is a construction area. When solar lights were added to the area, the Osprey abandoned it.

When we stopped near the occupied nest, one bird was present. I was able to take some photos, showing the tipped pole and the fluffed feathers of the magnificent creature. The keen eyes and the sharp hooked beak were impressive in this huge bird.

Just as interesting were the items which the birds had incorporated into the nest, plastic, cloth and a set of Christmas light wires. These are merely what’s visible from the street. How sad it is these items were even available to the birds!

Two days later, on our way to the boardwalk we stopped again to photograph the Osprey. Three were in the nest though only two were visible. One flew off and we could see the other two. 

I recorded video, just 21 seconds, rather unsteadily, of the birds as one chirped and whistled. 

Then it took flight.

These hawks are fish eaters and their nest by the harbour is in a great location. I hope to see them fishing one day. 

Sunday 19 April 2020

Week six

We are into the sixth week of isolation and doing okay. We see the grandkids via technology and communicate with our daughter regularly. It is like living in another province away from them which we are not accustomed to. Life goes on however and we hope to be back together soon. Who knows when that will be however?

We have had 26 cases of the Covid 19 virus here, all a result of travel. People quarantined themselves quickly enough on their return to Prince Edward Island which has prevented community transmission thus far. Mitigation measures remain in place and tomorrow is the dreaded grocery run again. However we are thankful for all the essential workers who risk everything to keep society going.

Meanwhile any day we can, my husband and I have a walk on the boardwalk. Some days we need our winter gear because of the cold wind but the cold doesn’t keep us away. The break from the house is so important to our mental and physical health.

Every day along the boardwalk is special but one recent day in particular, when the sun was out and there wasn’t any wind, was spectacular. The animals filled the air with their voices. The lonely cry of the gulls, the ever changing vocalizations of the jays, the caw of the raven, scoter whistles from off-shore and the quack of the black ducks in flight filled the air. The sparrows serenaded with their usual songs causing many to stop and look into the trees. 

Every now and then, we are called to forget the time we are living through and lose ourselves in nature. Those precious moments make all the difference.

Thursday 16 April 2020

A ducky treat

It is usually mid morning by the time my husband and I arrive at the boardwalk. This particular morning was quiet without many people around although the birds, especially the Blue Jays, were in great voice as usual.

Our first stop was the gazebo to see the stream. There were ducks in the distance on the harbour and a photographer was busy nearby. I took some photos and was excited to see Black Scoters, diving ducks, which normally we have to go to North Cape, Prince Edward Island to see. It was unusual to see them in the Summerside Harbour.

It was a small flock, but we discovered as we continued along the boardwalk, others were near the shore further along the coastline. We could hear their unusual sound as we passed.

The males are black with a yellow orange knob at the base of the top beak. It resembles a piece of candy corn.

The females are smaller than the males without the candy corn and look more grey. 

Any time we’ve seen the scoters, there are always more males than females. 

The males make an interesting sound like a whistle.

They can be heard a distance away when the chorus starts. I was lucky to video them, capturing the sound but also how one of the males scuttered across the surface of the water, then lifted partially out and down. What is the significance of such action? Is it related to courting or dominance or just fun?

Have a look at this 20 second video. 

Whatever the reason for the behaviour, we enjoyed our observation of the handsome whistlers and their lady friend.


The Scoters appear to be staying in the harbour though they haven’t been as close to shore as they were that first day. We still hear them even though they have moved further off-shore.

Sunday 12 April 2020

Along the way

There is always something new to see along the boardwalk. The same scenes can change with the weather, additions people make to the setting or the animals themselves. 

People enjoy the animals so much that many add houses and feeders along the way. 

Spring has brought several new feeders to the area.

The Covid 19 pandemic has added another dimension to the boardwalk as safety messages are posted along the route.

Meanwhile, life for the animals goes on as usual.

This trunk shows the work of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker which is nowhere to be seen. However, the rows of holes reveal its handiwork. I hope to see it sometime.

There is still lots of snow in the woods along the trail as the sun doesn’t reach the forest floor. While the ice is gone from the harbour, a rise in temperature will be required to melt this accumulation.

Someone left a painted message on a rock at the gazebo. It brought a smile during these unusual times in which we live. 

Rainbow messages of hope are appearing everywhere during this pandemic. “Everything will be okay!” Have faith!

Wednesday 8 April 2020

Progress report

We have survived four weeks of isolation with periodic walks along the boardwalk when weather permits. We haven’t felt any great need to do any more house cleaning than we normally do. For me, reading, writing, phone calls and tv fill the hours since I am not a craft person. My husband and I have tried a few new recipes but we are limited by what’s available in the house between grocery runs.

The isolation has changed our lives in important ways. We haven’t seen the grandkids for weeks, except via technology. We’ve been spoiled living near them and seeing them so often. One of our granddaughters had a birthday this week and we saw her at a distance. I know it kept us all safe but it was sad nonetheless. 

By mid April every year my husband and I begin our excursions around Prince Edward Island, bringing a picnic with us. The first such adventure every year is special as it signifies the beginning of another picnic/hiking season which we look forward to after the long winter. It won’t happen this month and not in the foreseeable future. 

Nature has progressed while we’ve been inside. Ice is finally gone from the harbour and none is visible in the Northumberland Strait. Birds have returned for another season and the grass is showing on our lawn again though a huge mound of snow has yet to melt. The barbecue is out of storage and there has been the occasional time we can sit on the patio in our lighter jacket.

A seed company on Prince Edward Island is doing five times its usual business shipping seeds. People are eager to grow their own food in these times, many for the first time. It is a reminder of the days when many people had home vegetable gardens. It will be interesting to see what people grow as the season progresses. Our own vegetable patch and flower beds will receive some TLC when the temperature increases.

Grocery shopping every two and a half weeks is a dreaded adventure. Wash, wash, wash, hands and everything you touch. I am wary of everything and everyone outside the house. I’ve used a large bottle of bleach and my hands are rough and dry. 

The last grocery trip involved lining up at 7 a.m. with fellow seniors in the pouring rain waiting to enter the store. People in the stores are focussed on the job at hand. They don’t make eye contact or even look up from the task. At the check-out, everything is wiped down between customers and the cashier is behind a piece of plexiglass. Masks aren’t common here yet.

Where would we be without these workers? It is interesting that the billionaire owners of two chain stores here have increased the salaries of their workers during this pandemic. At $15.00/hour or less, the workers take risks many are not willing to do. How about a living wage for these essential employees all of the time? How many billions are enough?

Everything but the essentials are closed and people are out of work. Food banks are busier and more in need than ever. The provincial and federal aid packages are rolling out slowly as rent and mortgage payments are due. People are really hurting. 

Meanwhile gas is down to $.72/litre. We haven’t seen these prices in years. In one of the great ironies though, we can’t go anywhere. However my husband and I are merely inconvenienced.

Seeing the price of gas reminded me of my Granda O’Brien years ago. When he was seventy, he developed diabetes which required medication and a change in his diet. He said, “I worked all me life to get a bit ta eat and now dat I got it, I can’t eat it.”

Unlike diabetes, this too shall pass.


A change in wind direction has blown ice back into the harbour and we had a ton of snow overnight and continuing this morning. However, we are cozy, warm and safe inside.

Sunday 5 April 2020

Welcome friends

There was snow in the forecast so we went to the boardwalk in the early morning ahead of the inclement weather. The birds greeted us as soon as we left the car. The American Crows, fewer in number now than earlier this year were in exceptional voice as were the Blue Jays. However, other birds are along the boardwalk now too and they are a welcome sight,

Two Mourning Doves sat in trees near the gazebo. Their cooing was audible above the noisy birds in the distance.

Numerous Black-capped Chickadees are back, hiding in the trees, waiting for walkers to place seeds along the bridge for them. They will feed out of one’s hand as well.

Red-breasted Nuthatches have returned and are ready to feed from one’s hand. However the more aggressive chickadees chase them away.

A single European Starling dropped by to see what’s going on. It is unusual to see one of these birds on its own.

The Song Sparrows have returned. We heard them and recognized their melodies long before we saw them. They are such powerful singers!

Meanwhile out over the harbour, a gaggle of Canada Geese flew by demanding our attention with their conversation as they looked for a place to land.

Can anyone identify this bird? I have never seen it before though I imagine it is common  on the island.

After a winter of crows and jays, these new arrivals along the boardwalk entertain walkers out for exercise and a break from the isolation. 

Thursday 2 April 2020


The harbour ice was beginning to break up though the ice was still on-shore.

Then the wind changed direction overnight and much of the ice moved off-shore. However, along the shoreline in the outer part of the harbour, huge pans of ice were stranded because of the low tide. 

It made me think of my Newfoundland home.

During the spring years ago in the coves and bays, any chance they had, youngsters were copying, jumping from pan to pan of floating ice, following a leader as they went. Imagine the ice as thicker and far less even as it floated around with the tide. A combination of broad jump and balance beam skills were required as each child in turn crossed a cove pan by pan. A false step could be deadly as falling or slipping into the cold Atlantic was a real threat. Over the years some young people lost their lives.

Many a parent threatened their children with serious bodily injury if they were caught copying. Meanwhile youngsters looked for opportunities when their parents were occupied so they could play on the ice. 

Here in Summerside, the ice is too thin and isn’t floating so it wouldn’t be much of a challenge though it looks like someone checked it out.

The next day the ice was gone into the Northumberland Strait where 7 degrees Celsius quickly melted it. 

However, I enjoyed the memories of home.