Wednesday, July 30, 2008

East Coast Trip June 2008: In search of American Oystercatchers

We arrived towards Cape Sable Island and I was one big frown when we crossed the bridge. It was a blanket of fog. This was not good. Fog is a common sight in Nova Scotia and I should've expected it, but this big mass of cloud followed us around the whole island! I got a tip from a lady who owns a summer home on the island where the reliable spot for American Oystercatcher was. She even gave me her address and Aaron and I drove into her laneway. It was a quaint, somewhat rundown cottage with a sign out front which I beleived was supposed to be in the shape of an Oystercatcher. It said "Birders Welcome". She was no where to be found.

We scanned the marsh behind her house. Willets sprung up in alarm which made me jump thinking that they were Oystercatchers. It was so foggy that I looked over every Willet carefully to make sure that was indeed what I was looking at. We then decided to drive around the marsh towards Daniels Head. Here the marsh was on one side while on the other side of the road was a grassy bank with the ocean beside it. On the marsh side looking into the fog I could barely see anything. Behind us in the grass a Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow buzzed and I pished it into view.

As I scanned in vain and Aaron checked out the ocean. Suddenly I noticed a figure walking towards me, with binoculars!! I went up to him and he seemed to know exactly what I was looking for. "The Oystercatchers. They won't be here until the tide goes out around 2:00pm. They are probably down at The Hawk right now, but in this fog you will not be able to see them."

At this point Aaron came back and heard the bad news as well. It was only 10:00 am in the morning now, which would leave us four hours to wait for the Oystercatchers. "The Hawk", is the most southern part of the island. Earlier, Aaron and I did drive down there but nothing was visible in the veil of white. I wanted to stay but I knew that wouldn't leave us much time to check out our next stop to the west, the town of Lower West Pubnico. There we were in search of Arctic and Roseate Terns, an endagered species that was being reintroduced successfully in that area. I scanned hopelessly once more and then we climbed in the car and made our way north over the bridge. This time though there was no fog as we crossed. It was in fact clearing! Could it have cleared already at "The Hawk?" We never found out.