Prince Edward Island is made of red sandstone which erodes easily. The changing climate has greatly affected the island over the last number of years and will continue to do so. In some areas, meters of shoreline are lost every year as storms pound the coastline, washing away the sand dunes and eroding the soft stone. One of the benefits of the freezing around our shores every winter is the decrease in erosion from the sea’s confinement by the ice. However that is changing.
The chart from Environment Canada shows the amount of freezing around Prince Edward Island this year. A little in the bays and harbours accounts for what there is. The Northumberland Strait and the Gulf of St. Lawrence are ice free around us.
The photo shows a view to the Northumberland Strait this week from the Summerside Harbour. Normally the sea is white this time of year.
We saw the open water when we visited the north coast of the island recently.
The only ice is in a band along the shoreline which breaks the waves before they reach shore. This is some help but not enough to prevent real damage to the coastline during high seas or a storm.
The erosion at sea level undermines the soil above the sandstone, causing banks to collapse. Our little island is going back into the ocean at increasing speeds.
The habitat for bank swallows is in peril as the nests collapse over the winter.
The birds, returning to the island in the spring from their winter migration, must rebuild their colonies again. Tired, many birds do not survive.
The Island Nature Trust of PEI is studying the Bank Swallow colonies to determine what action can be taken to help the birds. Last summer they surveyed the island and found forty colonies of such swallows which need help. This winter will be a hard one on their habitat for sure.
In 2017, I took these photos of a colony of Bank Swallows at Red Point Provincial Park on the east coast of Prince Edward Island. My husband and I were enjoying lunch in the park and the familiar sounds of the frenetic little birds were all around us.
At the beach we saw the holes in the banks. We were lucky it was low tide, so we could be far from the birds as they hunted insects and visited their young in the bank-side nests. The results were some of my favourite photos I have ever taken.
I hope it is not too late to save these wonderful little birds.