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Friday 27 November 2020


The Red Squirrels along the boardwalk are familiar with humans and expect to be fed. They are not shy in approaching people and if you stop where they are, they will climb your leg, expecting you to give them food such as a peanut.

My husband and I spent time feeding the birds recently and the squirrels were quite indignant. We ignored them initially and the furry rodents made a high pitched sound with open mouths, as if to scold us. We gave them peanuts before we left however.

Near the end of the boardwalk, where a new bird feeder is enjoyed by the chickadees and nuthatches, the squirrels appeared to be stymied. They couldn’t enjoy the black seeds like the birds were doing. I previously posted this photo of a squirrel eating the leftover seeds at the base of the feeder, flicked out by the birds.

More recently, one squirrel figured out how to climb the feeder. 

We thought he didn’t make any further progress. Notice how far the cages are from the post.

Last week, one squirrel sat on a branch behind and above the feeder, figuring out a way to secure the last of the seeds at the bottom of the cages or waiting for the cages to be filled again.

This week we learned not to underestimate squirrels. We couldn’t believe our eyes as we approached the feeder and there was a squirrel in the centre of the cage in one of them. 

While we watched, he jumped from the outer part of the cage to the pole and slid down to the ground. We waited to see him move into the feeder again but weren’t lucky enough to see the reverse move.

These are clever rodents and we enjoy life with them along the boardwalk. There must be thousands of peanuts in storage along that boardwalk, ready for winter this year. You have to admire the instinctive forethought and determination of the furry creatures. We can learn much from them.

Tuesday 24 November 2020

Caught over

It had been below zero overnight and was not much warmer when we arrived at the boardwalk. My husband and I always head to the gazebo first to look out on the harbour and the lighthouse. We look over the saltwater marsh as well, now flooded to a pond by a recent high tide. 

The water below the gazebo was frozen or caught over as Newfoundlanders say.

There were two American Black Ducks swimming in a small area of open water, but you could hear them break the ice as they swam along.

Before long one flew up-stream, leaving the other as the lone ice breaker.

A Red Squirrel, with two rose hips in its mouth, greeted us as we left the gazebo. 

It looks like squirrels in addition to birds eat the red morsels. There are lots of rose hips along the boardwalk from the wild roses which bloom there most of the summer.

The Black-capped Chickadees have fed from people’s hands for years here. 

Still it is exciting when one of the little creatures lands on your hand, like a whisper of a touch from a tiny wild animal.

We crack the peanuts for the chickadees while the Blue Jays like the whole peanut as do the squirrels. One chickadee followed me after I had fed it raw peanuts but flew off when it realized I only had a whole one.

It made for a good photo.

A Red-breasted Nuthatch was interested in the seeds we’d brought too. They are comfortable with people hand feeding them as well. 

This was a first for us and such a thrill.

The Summerside boardwalk and the animals who live there are a treasure. 

Monday 23 November 2020

Notes from the isle

The weather has been unusual these last few weeks. Just when we thought the colder than normal freezing temperatures were here to stay...surprise! It warmed up to double digits. My husband and I have been on our bikes again, though not as often. We’ve enjoyed the bonus days of cycling though it looks like our days of riding the trails are over now as the temperatures approach zero again.

Atlantic Canada has had a bubble over the four eastern Canadian provinces for the last number of months with restricted travel from the rest of Canada, requiring two weeks isolation on entry. Now, Covid cases are on the rise in the other three provinces in this bubble, while Prince Edward Island continues to be free of community spread. With the shopping season in full swing, Christmas on the horizon and university and college students headed home soon, that bubble around us is looking fragile. 

We continue to practise Covid protocols and hope that other islanders continue the measures which have kept us safe for the previous months. We trust our Chief Public Health Officer to keep us informed and our government to impose further restrictions if necessary. We live in dangerous and scary times.

One day recently, as my husband and I walked the boardwalk, we noticed something unusual in the Summerside Harbour. Fishing season is over in our waters for this year but we occasionally see a fishing vessel off-shore.

This fishing boat was in the Northumberland Strait cruising around as we thought. Then the vessel cruised into our area, opposite the Indian Head Lighthouse. It looked like people were fishing. I zoomed in with my camera and though blurred, could see what looked like crab pots being handled on the boat.

As we walked on, we noticed a small Coast Guard craft headed out from shore further in the harbour. When we looked back at the other boat, it was headed out into the Northumberland Strait again. At this point the Coast Guard boat returned to port.

Crab season is long over on the island. Someone must have reported the illegal activity which was visible from shore. This was the first time we have seen such a scene play out.

Soup season is upon us now and we are enjoying bowls of hot homemade soup with crusty bread or biscuits when we return from our walks and rides. Often the soup is vegetarian, such a squash, mushroom, tomato or potato. Prior to leaving the house, I cut up the vegetables, add them to the stock and let the pot come to a rolling boil. Then I turn off the burner but leave the pot in position on the stove. When we come home, the vegetables are cooked in the residual heat and still hot.

I made turkey soup over two days, the stock on the first, then cooked the vegetables the same way the second day. I added the cooked turkey the last minute. 

It is so good to have hot soup ready within minutes of arriving home! It keeps us from eating crackers and other junk while we wait for lunch. Leftovers are consumed the next day or except for potato soup, frozen. By the end of winter, we will be tired of soups but for now, they are a delicious way of life.

And finally, I follow several journalists from the island on Twitter. One posted recently about a bull which had broken out of a farmer’s field and may have been on the roads in the eastern county. We smiled when we heard this news. Compared to some of the news in this world, we’ll take a bull on the loose any day. Such is life on the island!

Thursday 19 November 2020

November morning light

The golden grand-dog, Georgie, was visiting and a walk was more essential than usual. The sunny, warmer than normal day was perfect for a walk among the trails of the Rotary Friendship Park.

In a few areas, branches continue to hold on to leaves, not yet ready to release the last of their coloured garment to the earth. These two birches near the beginning of the trail catch one’s eye from the parking lot.

Closer to the earth, the exposed forest floor and a small tree catch the mid-morning light through the long shadows, surrounded by the grey stems.

The last of the maple leaves catches the light and shade perfectly.

Surprisingly some green leaves remain and add a element of mystery. How can these leaves not have changed and fallen yet?

What I enjoy most however is the light on the trail itself. When the leaves are not the focus, the play of shadow and light takes centre stage. 

It urges me onward, trail after trail, to see the next scene and what lies exposed now that the trees are ready for winter.

Mid autumn, with its gorgeous colours, garners most of the attention. Not to be missed however, are the bare trees and the light.

Don’t get me started on the dance of light on a windy day!

Tuesday 17 November 2020

The east end

Temperatures went from freezing to 20 C and continued for a few days which allowed my husband and I to continue cycling. We headed to the east side of the Gulf Shore Parkway in the National Park in the centre of Prince Edward Island and rode with the southerly breeze at our backs. We had looked forward to riding in this area and thought we’d have to wait until next year but the weather co-operated.

We parked near Brackley Beach and rode along the first section of the parkway which lies behind the sand dunes. Stairs over the dunes were covered in sand 

and the beach was almost empty but for a small group enjoying the sun. 

A bench by the stairs is a perfect location to sit and watch the riders. 

A surprising number of people were enjoying the warm day on their bikes.

Further along the parkway, the fishing port of Covehead, 

with its small lighthouse, sits quietly this time of year as the fishing season is long over.

Further along the parkway, two ponds on the seaward side were full of ducks such as Mallards, and American Black Ducks which we see often. However, American Wigeons, 

Green-winged Teals 

and a female Northern Pintail were unfamiliar ducks I was thrilled to see.

At the Dalvay end of the parkway, we stopped to look over the beach before we turned around. It felt like an early September day.

On the way back, riding into the wind was more of an effort but the parkway is a beautiful ride and we used peddle assist. 

We stopped at the Covehead lighthouse again 

for another view of the coastline.

A sign near the lighthouse made me smile. 

While we couldn’t see or feel any sand blowing around, when we arrived home, our hair and faces were gritty. Such is this November on the island.

Monday 16 November 2020

For the love of Blue Jays

You know they are present long before you ever see them. Blue Jays speak from among the trees as they watch proceedings along the boardwalk in Summerside. 

They are watchful from their lofty perches and as soon as people produce birdseed or peanuts, they swoop into the area. They don’t miss anything.

We have observed several times when hawks or eagles come into the area, Blue Jays set off an alarm call that all the animals understand and for a time, everyone disappears, the chickadees, nuthatches, squirrels and chipmunks as well as the jays. The only birds which stay audible and visible are the crows and ravens.

The jays insinuate themselves into our encounters with the other birds with ease. They land on the bridge as soon as we offer raw peanuts to the chickadees. They watch closely, waiting for an opportunity to swoop in. Before long they are lined up on the railing, waiting for their chance at some food.

I placed a peanut on my open hand and stood quietly and waited. 

We had never seen jays feed from someone’s hand. Within a minute, 

the birds positioned themselves in the trees closer to me, watching my hand as I stood there. 

It was exciting to have one land on the bridge and take the peanut. 

I tried holding a raw peanut in my fingers 

and sure enough, one took it from me.

When we walked away, the Blue Jays came with us, flying from tree to tree along either side of the path for several hundred meters. On our way back, when we stopped briefly on the bridge again, they appeared in the trees quickly, expecting peanuts again.

These clever birds are colourful creatures with distinctive markings. Any place they inhabit is better for it.

Thursday 12 November 2020

To the west

We were prepared to put our bikes away but a rare November 12 C day enticed us to go cycling again. My husband and I continued westward on Prince Edward Island, beginning at Portage. No need for warm clothing this day. The slight southerly breeze was warm and fall clothes were sufficient. The sun never exposed itself for the day, merely hinted at an appearance.

This section of trail has many flat straight stretches through areas of bog and farmland. The bogs are rimmed by juniper/larch trees which are pretty as their needles respond to the darker days and cooler temperatures. 

The deciduous trees are naked, spent leaves covering the woodland. Grey branches and trunks predominate and contrast with the browns of tall grasses and bulrushes.

White birches stand out in this setting.

The bare branches expose wasp and bird nests, curiosities now that their former residents have moved on. 

A cat stops to watch the two seniors approach on bikes. 

Further along the trail, a Ruffed Grouse follows a companion across the trail. I stopped for the first one, and while I waited for my husband, the second one sauntered across as well.

It was well camouflaged in the vegetation along the trail.

An old house on Jack-a-Point Road has seen better days. The roof could provide a roller coaster ride. The house doesn’t look that old which poses the question as to what caused its current curvaceous shape. 

One also has to wonder about the name of the road. 

On the way back to the car, we stopped for a breather. We had cycled thirty kilometres and were tired as we looked around. The light was typical of November but the stillness of the day was not. It was perfect!