Epilogue. Grand Manan
(Shari on August 31) Yesterday I was in a funk. Even attending church and listening to the nice sermon from Bernadette–surprisingly, the woman we met and shared our farewell dessert and champagne in the kitchen shelter on Saturday–did not help. You see, everyone has left and it is just Bert and me in the lonely campground. As I look out my window where Bill and Ginny were parked, the gravel pad begs for an RV. I close the blinds so I do not have to look at the emptiness and be reminded my chicks have left the flock. Instead, Bert and I clean the RV, finish caravan paperwork and put caravan related items underneath in one of our compartments. R-Tent-III looks nice and our house is back to being a home.
Today the sky has cleared and we take off to explore. I look for seven caches, not finding the one at Seal Cove Cemetery, but getting all the others. Sadly, however, I have to cache without May. You see, she must have been stolen on the return ferry ride from White Head Island. Who would lock their car when standing beside it on a short ferry ride? We did not lock the car, and the GPS is now gone. It is the only place I can think where she got “lost”. In any event, today I take my GPS-equipped computer, opened on my lap, to direct Bert close to the cache and then use my antiquated handheld GPS to get us closer. It works, but not as good as May. Bert tells me to get over it, but I can’t. I just loved May. You can bet I will be purchasing another May soon. Bert birds while I look for caches. At many times I am still looking when he has exhausted the birds available, then he helps look too. At one point I pick blackberries and he finds the cache. Then we both pick blackberries until we have about 2 cups. At 2 PM I am starved and we stop at Sailor’s Landing for lunch and retrieve e-mail while we wait for our food. We continue our exploration, going to two more lighthouses. Bert thinks he has found a rare bird and luckily I have a cache to look for. It is in a film canister hidden under the helicopter pad. After finding it, I take the car to the next lookout and wait for Bert while talking to other people also enjoying the view at this lovely Long Eddy Point. One woman is on the beach gathering nori, the seaweed used for sushi, while her husband waits in the car. We return after 5 realizing we succeeded in spending the whole day and have not covered half the island yet. Guess we stay another day because I have four more caches to find.
(Bert on September 2) The caravan ended a few days ago. We are still on the island, enjoying incredibly beautiful early fall weather–chilly evenings, crisp mornings, warm mid-days, clear blue skies, calm seas–with a picturesque seascape at every turn of the road. Shari has racked up a good list of geocache finds, missing very few. By the way, after days of remorse over losing May, Shari found here stuffed in a box under the kitchen credenza. We have no idea how she wandered into the box, but Shari is thrilled at the reunion.
Birding on my own, I’ve found a number of birds we did not find in 92 days of Canada birding, undoubtedly because fall migration is in process. Ron reported seeing Red-necked Grebes at the bay beside the campground the morning everyone left and later I found them also. Other first finds since entering Canada are Baltimore Oriole and Snowy Egret.
By far the most exciting find came about while I was searching the large flock of gulls that we observed other days at Long Eddy Point. This time I set up my scope and carefully examined every bird in the flock. The common ones–Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls–were in various age plumages and the Black-legged Kittiwakes were adult summer, adult winter and juvenile-first winter plumages, the latter being the most easily confused with the rarity I found next. Almost identical in plumage, but smaller in size and with legs red, rather than black, was a juvenile Little Gull. I’ve seen this species only nine times before in Belgium and Churchill, Manitoba, but these all were easily identifiable adults. The juvenile was quite a challenge for me. I photographed it from the lighthouse cliff and then went below and awkwardly climbed over the slippery dulse-covered rocks to get a closer look at the flock. I photographed Little Gull at rest and thought I also had one in flight, but examination of my photos showed that one to be a look-alike juvenile kittiwake. I wish I still had our caravaners here to share the discoveries of the past few days. I’m sure they are finding their own special birds as they wander off to different parts of the U.S.
I’ve been in the habit of ending each set of trip journals with statistics, so I’ve gathered some again for this Atlantic Canada trip. In the numbers below I am not including species I’ve seen since the group split up, just the period 30 May to 29 August.
All caravan = 210 species (3074 documented records)
Personal list = 197 species
Photographed = 129 species
Birds per province
Quebec = 140 species in 11 days
Prince Edward Island = 87 species in 5 days
Newfoundland = 136 species in 28 days
Nova Scotia = 128 species in 23 days
New Brunswick = 142 species in 19 days
All caravan = 28 species
Personal list = 25 species
Photographed = 16 species
Photographed = 141 identified species, plus 7 unidentified species
By RV = 4198
By car = 4388
Taken = tens of thousands
Saved = 5543 (19.8 GB)
Although I did not get any life birds on this trip, I did add five species to the list of birds I’ve seen in Canada, bringing my total to 363 species. An unusual statistic, reportable to the American Birding Association, is total ticks. It is the sum of species counts for each of the provinces and territories of Canada. Spending so much time this year in Atlantic Canada boosted my Canada total ticks from 1413 to 1642. Not many birders report this number, perhaps because it takes good record keeping to calculate the total, but the top lister is a bit over 3000 ticks and my 1642 would put me about 18th in the list of birders. I’m sure there are many other non-listing birders beyond that number, but to me it reflects how much I enjoy birding across Canada and how much of this beautiful country I’ve seen.
First Day Table of Contents