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Monday 30 August 2021

Along the Acadian coast

The Evangeline region of Prince Edward Island is an area we haven’t fully explored, so my husband and I recently drove along part of that coast. This area is west of Summerside and predominately Acadian, descendants of the original French settlers on the island. French is the first language of the majority of people in this region, representing about 3% of the island’s population. 

We passed the Eglise Notre Dame du Mont Carmel along the way, a large church which dominates the countryside. We stopped at Cape Egmont to see the lighthouse and noticed Notre Dame in the distance, 

certainly visible to the boats at sea. It was a good landmark for fishers in the days prior to satellite navigation systems aboard fishing vessels.

Parking near the lighthouse and looking out, 

we could see the land falls off into the sea, without any fencing to prevent tragedy. Carefully approaching the edge, we discovered a sea stack below with cormorants enjoying the sun. It is interesting the birds frequent one part of the sea stack and not the whole surface.

The cliffs consist of mudstone and sandstone layered from sea level up but red soil makes up a huge portion of the cliff, kept in place by the grass.  

Notice the two young people in the photo above. They are standing in the area below, near the outer edge. Needless to say, we did not venture there.

The sea stack with the cormorants in residence is actually a double sea arch. The smaller arch on the left is newer, having developed over the last year. A walk along the cliffs is necessary to see both of them as the smaller one isn’t visible at every angle. 

In the water below, cormorants land and take off, looking like they are enjoying a dip in the sea on this hot day. One looks to be drying its wings on the water, a behaviour I hadn’t seen before. 

Usually we see spread wings on land.

Further off-shore, the fishing boats are going to and from the Fishing Cove west of the Cape in Egmont Bay. 

It is a windy day and the water is choppy. We were happy to be where we were rather than on that boat. However, we will visit this lighthouse again to watch the progress of the sea stack over time.


Friday 27 August 2021

The fields of Prince Edward Island

Cycling along the Confederation Trail, my husband and I always notice the fields along the way. Potato fields are a common sight in a province which grows 25% of Canada’s potatoes. 

This year has been a banner year for potato growth since we had rain every two or three days during July. While it is drier this month, the crop is mature and more resistant to dry weather when the plants cover the soil, able to reduce evaporation. 

Similarly, the corn grown for silage looks like a bumper crop this year too.

Recently, we spotted something which was new to us on the fields near Miscouche, an area we frequent on our bike rides from home. 

The fields were white on both sides of the trail and in a field across the highway nearby. It looked as if the seeds had been sown all over the fields rather than in rows. Later we identified the crop as buckwheat. 

A single bloom might not have been all that impressive but the billions of the white blossoms over such a large area were stunning. 

Seen from our vantage point, looking through the wildflowers bordering the trail, the setting was picture perfect.

You never know what awaits in an area you know well.

Monday 23 August 2021

Along the coast

After a colder, wetter July than usual, our weather has turned hot and humid for the last two weeks. My husband and I have kept our biking to a minimum, unless we know there is a strong breeze. Our one ride this past week was in Cavendish, along the coastline of the Gulf Shore Parkway West, which we visited numerous times last fall and this past spring. Sometimes we were the only people in the area.

Visitors explore the park now, with lots of cyclers and hikers on the trails and along the parkway. It was wonderful to see so many people enjoying the places we love so much. 

The breeze off the water was a perfect balance for the heat, and the waves breaking along the shoreline almost made the wind visible. 

While Cavendish Beach was busy, other areas along the parkway were almost empty, making it a great area to explore.

Gulls are interesting this time of year. While we spoke with another couple on Rad E-bikes, I was distracted by the sounds of several gulls which appeared to challenge a Bald Eagle circling over an area the gulls were protecting. They flew at the eagle and made their best threatening sounds until the eagle flew off.

Further along the Parkway, at Orby Head, it looked like there weren’t any birds on the point until I walked to the far end of the Head. Below was a flock of Great Cormorants. 

I had never seen never so many of these cormorants together. The orange on their beaks resembles a chin strap.

At the end of the Parkway, at the beach at North Rustico, a flock of gulls enjoyed the beach. 

Across the parkway in a small pond, members of the flock dropped in to play. Here, the Black-backed Gulls, mature and immature, dabbled, splashed and did wing displays. We enjoyed seeing their fun on the water on a hot summer day.

We had lunch at Cavendish Grove again, one of our favourite picnic areas. The trees provided shade and nature’s fan through the trees was perfect. It was quiet except for the birds chatting as they went about their day. 

A hot day along the northern coastline of Prince Edward Island is perfect!


Friday 20 August 2021

A new trail at Bonshaw

On a recent visit to Bonshaw Park, my husband and I walked the new trail called Howel’s Hallow. This trail is well constructed and a great addition to the trail system at Bonshaw where 20 kilometres of such trails await visitors.

It was a hot humid day but the breeze made it bearable. The new trail is great for mountain biking as well so in areas, it has waves and berms which make the walking interesting too. 

The trail crosses one stream, then  meanders down to the West River and loops back.

The new boardwalk made the going easy in some areas. 

Ferns were luscious, catching the light occasionally through windows in the trees. 

We noticed several types of mushrooms, the most obvious among them, the Orange-gilled Waxcap. 

Lungwort, a lichen, was well established on this tree 

while bunchberries were available for picking. These bland berries are a good addition to other berries for jam.

We sat on a bench by the West River and listened as the sound of the water-filled hollow created by nature. 

A few deep breaths later and we continued on the loop. 

Nature takes back what she gives as moss covers the fallen trees in one area. 

Though we didn’t see or hear them, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers had been busy along the way.

Headed back through a meadow to the car, we passed these beauties, 

smiling through the grasses into the glorious sun. Perfect.


Monday 16 August 2021

Wildflowers 2

The parade of wildflowers continues as the summer rolls along to its inevitable conclusion. There has been and continues to be a kaleidoscope of colour and variety along the trails, roads and highways. Starting with dandelions of spring, we have progressed to Queen Anne’s Lace, Goldenrod and numerous others, filling every gap and crevice, road banks and shorelines. 

I enjoy especially the scenes along the shoreline where the view to sea is through the natural blooms.

Joe Pye Weed is a new one this month and it takes a stand along a section of shoreline where Queen Anne has yet to spread her lace. 

A trail to a bench by the harbour is lined with that lace and the Front Range Light is a familiar backdrop. 

A spell on the bench and a view to the Indian Head Lighthouse in the distance is filtered through wildflowers.

During a recent visit to Bonshaw Park, we had a picnic and walked some trails. After lunch, on the way to the West River I passed wildflowers on the highway embankment. Queen Anne’s Lace and Goldenrod make a breathtaking wall of natural blooms. 

Humans cannot compete with this gardener. 


Friday 13 August 2021

Lunch with friends

Treatment is going well. My friend has cancer and has had surgery, chemotherapy and now immunotherapy. Stage 4 cancer doesn’t leave you much hope but compared to a year ago, she has more energy and is embracing life. After her latest treatment, we headed to a nearby park for a picnic and time on the beach.

The Belmont Day Use Park is on the north shore of Prince Edward Island. A tiny triangle of grass covered red earth on a sandstone ledge overlooking the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the park has the essentials, plus trees to provide shade and a beach, perfect for a few hours in nature.

It was hot and humid but the island breeze made it bearable, as usual. We sat facing the empty beach and talked of the last year, about life and death and embracing the moments when all feels right.

After lunch we walked the beach and noticed how erosion, the ever present force of nature and threat, has felled great trees and threatened others. 

Further along, the sandstone ledge dominates the landscape and the sand gives way to rock and seaweed. We sat and talked as tiny fish, Silversides, leapt from the water and swam past in schools, as we watched from a sandstone bench.

We ventured further around the point and noticed a bird busy along the shoreline.

We thought it was catching Silversides. It looked like a Willet but on the two occasions I had seen Willets previously, they were in salt marshes. That wasn’t the case here.

We sat on some sandstone and watched the bird, later confirmed a Willet, mere metres away. I thought it would fly off as we settled there. However it must have found the eating too good and ignored us. We discovered as we watched, it was crabbing, 

not fishing.

I took many photos as the bird posed but ignored us as it stealthily approached its prey. We watched for an hour and chatted, soaking up the atmosphere along the Gulf, sat atop the red sandstone with the bird below us along the shoreline, busy eating its fill.

The sun and the breeze were perfect. The bird was quiet but I heard another Willet in the area, knowing their sounds from previous encounters.

Cares and worries fell away as we sat there engrossed in this bird crabbing and enjoying its lunch as we had enjoyed ours. You can’t beat lunch with friends.

Wednesday 11 August 2021

The seniors and the fox

One of the residents of an island nursing home feeds three crows faithfully every day. 

Occasionally, a young fox eats the food before the crows arrive. The residents whose rooms overlook the walkway where the animals visit, look forward to seeing the crows every day and the occasional visit by the fox. 

Over time, the fox has become gaunt and looks wasted. 

It has mange and the residents are concerned.  A nurse heard their concern and researched what could be done to help the animal. She found a group which provides medicine to put in food for a fox known to have mange. She acquired the medicine and with the help of staff, the residents started treatment of the fox. They are thrilled the poor animal is receiving help. 

The residents are watching closely to see if the poor creature is improving. It will take several weeks of treatment to cure the animal. However a love of animals lasts a lifetime.

Monday 9 August 2021

Shooting Gallery Shore

Some time ago, Celia at asked about a photo I posted on my blog. 

The question about “that concrete creation with the message on it,” sent me on a quest of an old photo of the area. 

This section of shoreline is known locally as the Shooting Gallery Shore. I didn’t know the original purpose or design of the structure which had been there or how its concrete remains, which now sit a few metres from the sea, fit into the original structure. Recently an old photo discovered by a friend on a local Facebook group shed some light on the original design.

The area was the site of the Rifle Range opened in 1913. The Canadian Government opened such ranges around the country after the Boer War. Canadians, in support of the British, fought in South Africa during that war and the largely voluntary force lacked marksmanship skills. After the war, the Government established the ranges to improve those skills among the population.

In Summerside, the federal government bought land along the shoreline and established a rifle range of 1000 yards to help militia and private citizens with these skills. The range was in operation until the late 1930s, when a Air Force base was established nearby during the Second World War.

In the intervening years, the area of the range has fallen into the sea as coastal erosion claimed much of it. 

                                           View of the shoreline from the top of the concrete wall

All that remains is the part of a concrete wall where men stood between concrete dividers to take aim. 

Today, rock revetment assists in preventing further erosion along the shoreline in the harbour.

The old photo, taken in 1939, was near the end of the life of the rifle range. What will this area look like in another hundred years? It is a scary thought.