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Monday 31 May 2021

Picnic at the beach

On the way to another favourite beach for a picnic, we watched a farmer doing some adjustment to the plow he pulled behind his tractor. This time of year is busy for the people who grow our food. 

We stopped at French River as well to watch the boats coming home and spotted a female Belted Kingfisher in the trees watching the shoreline. She was a beauty.

Our destination, the beach at Yankee Hill, the site of the New London Lighthouse, is an area where fishing boats enter a channel to return to French River and other ports along the coast. 

The boats are only a few meters from shore and we love to watch their progress through the channel. We visit here several times every year.

A well used path from the parking lot crosses the dunes which are undisturbed otherwise. I took this photo of driftwood without doing any damage to the Marram grass.

We had our portable table and chairs with us and set them up for a great view of the channel entrance. Before long boats were passing mere metres from us, headed home.

In addition, as we ate, a Bald Eagle flew overhead and disappeared down the beach. Meanwhile, we could see hundreds of cormorants on a sandbar and pylons in the channel. As we ate, we watched the huge flock take flight.

Shortly after, fog emanated from the sand, creating an eerie look of smoke on the water, like the lyrics of the old song.

Even the boats released fog in their wake.

Before we left, I photographed the old pylons in the channel to compare their condition to last year. In the photos I noticed a Bald Eagle sat atop a pylon, surveying his domain. Did its presence scare off the cormorants?

The wonder of island beaches keeps us returning again and again.

Friday 28 May 2021

At the beach

A beautiful sunny day without much wind drew my husband and me to the beach for a walk for the first time this year. We decided on the beach at Brander’s Pond to see how the sea stack there had fared over the last year. It is one of my favourite beaches but I have many favourites on Prince Edward Island.

Along the way we passed the Cavendish Farms Wetland, an area with huge grasses which the Red-winged blackbirds love. They found a way to land on the tall grasses, 

which sway under their weight, making them impossible to photograph.

At our destination, the pond is mere metres from the shoreline and a stream flows to the beach nearby. This year, Mallards and Ring-necked Ducks swam there. 

The local cottagers have fortified sides of the stream closet to the road which leads to the cottages lining the shoreline above the beach. The steam meanders more along the beach now than it has in the past however.

The sea stack looks much the same as last May, except the cormorants are hanging out there again. It is good to see the prehistoric looking birds back at one of their old haunts. 

                                                                        May 2020


                                                                                  May 2021

The face in the cliff looks more tired though. You can’t blame it after this past pandemic year.

The beach is in pristine condition, undoubtedly people picked up any debris which was deposited over the winter. Some seaweed is all that remains. We will only leave footprints which will vanish with the tide. 

Walking along, we could see fog rising from the wet sand in the distance. We imagine the earth, like us, is ready to exhale.

The sound of the sea fills the senses. It is good to be back for another year. 

Tuesday 25 May 2021

Dandelion Trail

Our most recent cycling adventure on the Confederation Trail took us to the Pleasant Valley area where we had finished cycling last October. Along the trail, the dandelion blooms greet hikers and cyclists.

What was a scant bloom in a few places the previous week had become a full bloom in many areas.

Wild strawberry blooms look out of place among all the dandelions but the tiny white blooms are visible along the trail..

This section of trail is through the rolling hills of the central portion of the island. Steep banks on either side of the trail keep one focussed on the straight and narrow trail ahead. 

Through the trees we see some fields are being plowed, ready for spring planting. 

However, any time a view of the countryside is exposed, the dominant colour is yellow in the unplowed fields. 

As we approached the community of Hunter River, we could hear elementary school children out for recess on the opposite side of the river, running, shouting and having a great time. We caught glimpses of them through the trees and the sounds brought us back to our days teaching all those years ago. 

A new bridge across the Hunter River gives area residents a great route for a walk. 

An old church in the community has been for sale for years but it looks like someone has purchased the building and is renovating the old place. It is good to see this work rather than demolition.

A few nesting boxes are located adjacent to the trail as well. My poor eyesight thought it was a grackle at one of the boxes. 

I was pleasantly surprised to see a Tree Swallow at the opening of a box when I looked at the photos. I captured a photo of one of the birds on top of the box as well. 

We stopped briefly to observe a mare and foal my husband saw through the trees. The mother was watchful of every move I made as I attempted to get a photo of the two through the trees.

We stopped for lunch at one of the picnic sites along the trail. This one had an old tree nearby with two huge woodpecker holes though no birds were present.

Before we arrived back at the car, we stopped to hydrate on the trail between two fields of yellow. The view on one side was a yellow delight.

The other side showed the burgeoning hills of yellow.

On the short drive to the highway, we passed a cattle farm where the cattle were out grazing among the dandelions, looking quite content.

Soon the blooms will be replaced with fluffy seed heads. It will be interesting to see the countryside when the air is filled with seeds as well. 

Monday 24 May 2021

Back at the Grove

When we arrived at Cavendish Gove and exited the car, a tree on an island in the pond had noisy grackles and blackbirds competing for loudest bird in the area. By the time I could take a photo, there were only a few left in the tree.

We had a pleasant surprise too. One pair of Canada geese had six goslings. Already this spring, one nest hadn’t any survivors. Over the past number of years though, my husband and I have seen two sets of goslings in the Grove, so we shouldn’t have been surprised to see one goose family there this year, which was great!

Canada geese are such wonderful parents. It is always fascinating to watch them, as both parents stay involved with the goslings, unlike some bird species. One parent leads the goslings around and the other stays behind, protecting the young ones from potential predators or from straying away.

As we watched, one adult led the six balls of yellow fluff and dabbled on the way, the goslings behind watching the upended bottom of the parent. 

After a short interval among the grasses along the shoreline that adult headed back into the pond followed by the goslings and the other parent. One gosling had taken the lesson seriously and dabbled a bit too. They are fast learners.

In the nest area, both parents were settling in as the young ones did the same.

Meanwhile, Gadwalls and Mallards swam around the pond, dabbling as well. 

They co-exist nicely with the geese as we’ve seen before in the Grove.

                                               Double dabblers:  Gadwall left, Canada Goose right

Elsewhere in the park, the Cavendish sandspit has been closed to visitors for the summer to protect the nesting Piping Plovers I mentioned a few posts previously. An article by the island’s CBC station can be seen here.

Friday 21 May 2021

Heritage Roads

While our quest of cycling the entire Confederation Trail this year continues, every now and then my husband and I like a change from riding that trail. We decided to try one of the Heritage Roads on the island, old red clay roads through scenic countryside which were busy roads in days gone by. We decided on the Perry Road in central Prince Edward island.

We passed through Millvale on our way to the road and stopped at the waterfall there.

The pond, name unknown, has a fish ladder alongside the dam. 

Geese floated on the pond, two parents ushering goslings between them. A cormorant, in the centre of this photo, balanced on one foot, is watching the proceedings.

The Perry Road is lined with farmers’ fields, many of which are covered in dandelions. 

We are suspicious of grassy fields without dandelions and wonder what is used to control the pretty blooms.

This central part of the island has rolling hills 

which were a challenge for us and our bikes. 

We only rode a few kilometres before we turned back. However, autumn colours will call us back for a hike on this road in the fall.

We drove to Cavendish to have lunch in the Grove, always a favourite place for a picnic.

Wednesday 19 May 2021

Along the Parkway

The national park on Prince Edward Island has three sections. We visit the western portion of the park most often but enjoy the other areas too. We recently visited the central area which runs along the eastern Gulf Shore Parkway from Brackley to Dalvay. We cycled the distance, stopping regularly to take in the sights. 

This area has abundant wildlife and a variety of birds are in and around the saltwater marshes, rivers and ponds just behind the dunes. Cycling along the parkway, one can see the birds and stop to observe them. We stopped a great deal.

The soft spring colours around them highlight the Greater Yellowlegs in the first photo and the Gadwalls, a female and a male, in the second photo, just left of centre.

While I was waiting for my husband at one point, two geese flew a few metres overhead. I was lucky enough to photograph one. 

A Northern Shoveler stood out among the dried grasses 

while a tiny Least Sandpiper was easy to miss. 

This beautiful Green-winged Teal looks shy floating around in the pond. 

We had lunch in a sheltered spot where a White-throated Sparrow dropped by.

Looking out to sea, one sees the lobster boats in the distance, 

the sound of the motors carried on the breeze. 

The lighthouse keeps a silent vigil as it has for decades.  

This area of the national park will draw us back numerous times this year.