Most Popular Post

Sunday 30 April 2023

Spring is in the air

Everywhere we go these days, the activities of the birds catch our attention. They are courting, building nests, and nesting. Some, like the Great Blue Herons wear their best attire in season.

Soon fledglings will add to the populations.

I heard a rustle at the base of some trees along the boardwalk one day and watched the area for a few minutes. A Song Sparrow was building a nest among the grasses at the base of some bushes. The tiny creature was well camouflaged. 

We have noticed a pair of European Starlings around the boardwalk recently, two always together regardless of the location of the large flock. If one flies off the other follows.

Like the Starlings, a pair of Rock Pigeons follow each other around too. 

This pair of Herring Gulls stays together 

as do these Mallards.

The Mourning Doves are paired as well and provide an interesting chorus together. 

These Downy Woodpeckers are never far from each other.

I couldn’t manage a clear shot of both. When compared to the Herons, these Downies are miniature.

At Cavendish Grove, despite the low water conditions, the Canada Geese which nest there every spring, are back in fine form. Small islands in the ponds are home to nesting Geese such as this one settled in on an island among the bulrushes. 

Nearby the male stands over the scene, watching every move as an Osprey flies over and lands in a tree nearby. The gander keeps an eye on the Osprey. 

Some of the birds, like this Northern Flicker, don’t appear to have found a partner yet.

It spends much of its time high in the trees calling out for a lady friend. Someone should tell him the ladies might be tired of his whining. I feel sorry for him.

We’ve seen though that all is not domestic bliss with all of the birds.

Meet the Osprey which have a nest on a platform near the boardwalk. 

The birds are long term residents and like many Canadians, head south for the winter. Last fall, after they vacated the well-established nest, the Fiona weather system took down the pole and destroyed the nest. The city replaced the pole for the feathered visitors but the birds had to reconstruct the nest on their return a few weeks ago. 

As you can see, they have made progress. 

One day the two Osprey looked like they’d had a spat. One bird was on the nest while the other sat in a tree nearby, never once glancing at its partner. 

Meanwhile, a crow sat in a nearby tree, watching the scene, waiting for an opportunity to have eggs for breakfast.

Through this season, the other animals are mating too. This chipmunk is gathering peanuts into its den when any are offered. It looks out expectantly as we walk by. 

This time of year is wondrous! 

Monday 24 April 2023

Riding the Trail

The part of the Confederation Trail which we can see in the city is snow free. My husband and I were eager to ride our bikes for the first time this season, so we dressed for the cold and headed out. The wind wasn’t high so the overcast day was comfortable as we rode the trail, feeling exhilarated after the long winter. The bumpiness of the trial this time of year kept us at a slow pace.

The trail was 99% snow and ice free, except for a small section which had just enough shade. There were small patches of snow on the trail itself though the ditches were full of snow in that area.

We turned around in Miscouche, about 8 kilometres from home where horses and an old barn and fence always make a good subject for the camera. 

I waited for the foal to stand but it was resting while its mother, standing nearby, had lost a sock, probably in the dryer like the rest of us.

All along the trail the Song Sparrows were busy in the trees, invisible, but making their presence known occasionally when they sang to the heavens for all they were worth. I always notice them.

We headed back and as we approached Summerside, a young man with a dog walked towards us. Whilst biking, I am wary of dogs on the trail since sometimes they will dart towards the bike if the walker doesn’t keep a short lead. I moved further away from them on the trail but ran over a small patch of snow which unfortunately sat on ice.  Consequently I fell to the ground with the bike on top of me. There was soil in my mouth and nose and despite the helmet, I hit my left forehead, scratched my nose and cheek. My husband, riding behind me, saw the man lower his head and walk on, without saying a word. 

I was stunned and it took a while to recover. I sat for a few minutes while my husband had a look at the bike which was fine. Slowly we rode home, my left arm and shoulder painful but able to move. The constant pain only lasted a day but I have bruises on my left arm and legs. It only hurts now if I reach with the left arm but I am healing well. The bike will have to wait for a while but I hope to be back riding the trail before long, when all the snow is gone.

Monday 17 April 2023

Bits and pieces

At first light every morning, the Song Sparrow sits on the rail outside our window and sings to the rising sun. The tiny birds have been back on Prince Edward Island since the end of March. A pair of the these tiny singers make a nest in our hedge every spring. The morning serenade through the open window is a great way to start the day, though a tad early. Often I can sleep again after the sun salutation by my feathered friend.

The only snow left along the boardwalk now is under the trees and in their shade. Already nature is awakening as Coltsfoot blooms are the first bit of colour this spring.

We were in North Rustico on the north shore of the island last week and fishers have begun to put their boats in the water again in readiness for the lobster fishery.

After my last post, several readers commented about the cost of a lobster licence, going for as much as $7,000,000. These days, many licence holders pass the license down to a family member when s/he is ready to retire from the industry.

Geese were in the harbour at North Rustico too 

and not far away, a pair had staked out a small wetland area for themselves. It is near a road and parking lot but the two appeared not to care.

A lone Ring-billed gull enjoyed a walk on the beach 

while nearby, snow was slow to melt along the headland at water level.

News from our house:

The weather is above zero most nights now and we have had a few days with temperatures in the low double digits. We were able to put out the clothesline again and the clothes dried in a few hours one sunny day.

We put the barbecue back on the patio last week and had our first barbecue as well. It will be a few weeks before we can eat outdoors though.

I had Covid last month for the second time. It affected my blood pressure this time and it still isn’t back to where it had been prior to this second bout. I am monitoring my BP and have another doctor’s appointment soon. I don’t want Covid again. I am taking all the precautions. However I was doing that before this last bout too. 

Sunday 9 April 2023

Spring around here

A lovely spring day brought us to Malpeque on the north shore of central Prince Edward Island where the boat basin was a busy spot. The basin still has ice and though the lobster season in the area begins on April 29th, boats won’t be in the water for another few days. Most are stored in the yards of the fishers’ homes, though not all homes look like this one.

Meanwhile, the work has begun, as fishers prepare their gear such as traps for the busy season ahead.

We spoke with two fishermen there. One had purchased his fishing license many years ago for $120,000. Now the same licence goes for $7,000,000. He is retired from other work but continues to pursue lobsters every season for the two months this lucrative fishery is open.

Meanwhile, another man told us he still uses thirty-six of the old style lobster traps, the traditional ones with the curved design. The newer traps, a rectangular design, stack better on the boat. He had purchased fifty of the new ones recently, at a cost of $9,000 to replace some which had been damaged or lost.

We talked about Newfoundland and the cod fishery pursued by my grandfather out of Petty Harbour. He had used hand lines, with hooks baited with squid. Fishermen caught squid the evening before they left the harbour at daylight. Such a fishery was sustainable. Later, fishing trawlers, also known as daggers, larger vessels pulling nets behind them over the cod’s spawning grounds, destroyed the cod fishery which has been closed for over thirty years.

A sustainable fishery is the goal. However, warming sea water will affect fish and shellfish in this area. Last September, hurricane Fiona didn’t lose as much strength as normally happened when such systems passed over the colder waters of eastern Canada. Warm water feeds such a system. This past winter, the sea on the north shore of Prince Edward Island did not freeze. While the basin at Malpeque froze, the coastline didn’t. I fear hurricane season this year.

However, seasonal activity continues as daylight lengthens, winter snow melts, sea ice in the bay at Summerside moves with the wind and snow continues to fall occasionally. Undeterred by the tardiness of spring around here though, migrating birds are returning, such as the Great Blue Herons near Malpeque that day. It is spring on Canada’s east coast.

Sunday 2 April 2023

In the bay

The ice in the bay at Summerside broke up over the last few weeks and the wind takes it out of the bay one day and back in another depending on the wind direction. On days without wind, pans of ice, which Newfoundlanders call growlers, float around the harbour after an onshore wind.  A morning walk by the water on a calm day in spring is a treat for people of east coast Canadian islands.

On one calm, overcast morning, the lighthouse looked like the overseer of proceedings in the bay.

Close-ups of the growlers showed the shadows on the calm surface of the water.

Sometimes the gulls like to stop for a rest on one.

The next day, it was calm and overcast again as we headed to the boardwalk. However the sun found openings in the clouds and slowly the sky turned blue. The water reflected that blue and changed the scenes from the previous day. 

There were more birds on the growlers this second day, just enjoying the setting with friends. 

As we passed the Front Range Light, the blue of the scene highlighted the ice field in the distance.


Two days later, an off-shore wind took the ice into the Northumberland Strait again and we couldn’t see in on the horizon. Two more days and it was back. 

When we arrived at the end of the boardwalk that last day, a young eagle was perched on the ice off shore while two crows were courting in the air around it.

Land, sea, sky and creature provide much enjoyment in the bay by the boardwalk.