|A very small portion of the seabirds nesting on the rugged coast surrounding Cape St.Mary's|
Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula is home to North America's largest colony of Atlantic Puffins (260,000 pairs) and the world's second largest colony of Leache's Storm Petrels (620,000 pairs). Aside from that there are 10's of thousands of Common and Thick-billed Murres and sizable populations of Razorbills and Black Guillemots and that's just the Alcids! The numbers of seabirds are literally mesmerizing. On more than one occasion I have been guiding people only to look see them staring agasp, at the spectacle before them. On one trip in particular I found myself in this state as I watched over 300,000 Alcids running on the water and taking to flight ahead of our approaching boat. The ocean was churned to white water by feet and the wings of the Murres and Puffins. It was one of the most stunning things I have ever witnessed. The sheer magnitude of life that was mind-blowing. It is something that I will never forget. In fact,I was so awestruck that I never even lifted my camera, I just took it all in. In fact, there is often so much going on, it's hard to know where to focus your attention. Do you look at the Humpback whale breaching or the swarms of Alcids flying by?Our Alcid breeding colonies are a photographers dream and here are a selection of photos taken by Jason Dain.
|Common Murres on their nesting islands, Witless Bay, Newfoundland|
|Razorbills, Witless Bay, Newfoundland|
|1 of 500,000 Atlantic Puffins nesting in Witless Bay, Newfoundland|
|Fantastic photo ops abound!|
After you are finished your jaw dropping experience with Alcids in Witless Bay, you are ready for a different, yet equally awe-inspiring visit to the Cape St.Mary's, Gannet colony. Both Witless Bay and Cape St.Mary's are well within driving distance of St.John's (Newfoundlands, capital city).
At Cape St.Mary's you will visit the famed 'Bird Rock'. Bird rock is a 100 m sea stack, separated from the headland by just a few meters. There is no need for a 'big' lens to get great photos of the Gannets and Black-legged Kittiwakes. There are thousands of both species nesting meters away and this is a magical opportunity to observe the complex mating rituals performed by the Northern Gannets and they reinforce their life-long pair bonds.
|Gannets preening each other as a hungry chick awaits a meal. Note Gannet chicks often lie with their heads down motionless to rest, the chick in the upper right is fine!|
|Prime nesting spots on Gannet rock are much sought after and hotly contested!|
|Northern Gannet delivering nesting material|
|The worlds largest member of the Deer family.|
|Woodland Caribou. Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula hosts the southernmost herd in North America|
Also among our more sought-after songbirds you will find a nice selection of Warblers. While the Avalon Peninsula is not the most warbler-rich part of the province. However, it does have good populations of the northern Boreal species and in combination with the remarkable sea birding, makes for some of the best bird in June, anywhere in North America. Some of the more likely species you are to encounter include, Blackpoll Warbler, Mourning Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Black and White and Wilsons Warbler. A short drive off of the Avalon Peninsula will net you a number of other species as well. Included below are just a small sample of the Boreal warbler specialties.
|Black and White Warbler|
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher is often much easier to find than the much more elusive Black-backed, but with patience and a keen ear, one should be able to track down a Black-back. Of course, the assistance of a top quality bird guide doesn't hurt either ;)
This has been a very brief introduction to birding Newfoundland's, Avalon Peninsula in June.The area has so much to offer the travelling birder, not the least of which is a a rich cultural experience, fantastic food, great music and an overall fantastic time with some of the nicest, most genuine and sharing people, you will find anywhere in the world. If you would like assistance in planning your Newfoundland adventure, Birding Newfoundland is here to guide you every step of the way from itinerary planning, custom guiding and all inclusive tours. You can find us at http://www.birdingnewfoundland.com