Monday, August 4, 2008

East Coast Trip June 2008: Bird Island Boat Tour

We arrived to where the Bird Island Boat tour begins at Big Bras D'or, Cape Breton about 20 minutes before it was to set sail. The tour is 2 hours and 45 minutes and takes you around the Bird Islands, which are not too far off shore, barely in the Cabot Strait.

There were not many people on the boat with us. Probably 12 of us altogether. Our captain was very knowledgeable and entertaining. Here is the website

Bald Eagles, Great Black-backed and Herring Gulls were the first birds we encountered on our way out. As we approached the islands, we saw Double-crested Cormorants and a few Great Cormorants as well. It was then that we saw our first Atlantic Puffin fly by, followed by many on the water, diving underneath the surface, and sitting on the rock ledges. Black Guillemots were plenty, as well were colonies of Razorbills. A small colony of Black-legged Kittiwakes were present. According to our captain, the Kittiwake is fairly new to the Bird Islands, only colonizing here in the past few years.

-Black-legged Kittiwake adult. Photo by Marianne Balkwill

As I continued to scan the alcids, a Razorbill flew by with a different looking bird in pursuit.

"Common Murre!" I pointed out.

This was exciting to me and the captain, who said that he hasn't seen a Common Murre in almost 15 years! Most of the other passengers were only here to see the puffins so they were not really impressed.

We also got our first seal in the wild. The Gray Seal. We saw one resting on a rock and another bobbing on the water watching us, a safe distance from the boat.

Gray Seal resting on a rock. The Gray Seal bull can reach from 2.5–3.3 m in length and weigh up to 300 kg . Photo by Marianne Balkwill.

We were all smiles when we got off the boat. Seeing Puffins for the first time was great! Our next, and last birding destination was to take us right in the middle of an alcid colony. This was a boat tour to Machias Seal Island! We were so excited! Little did we realize that we were going to learn something very important about Aaron and pelagic birding.

1 comment:

  1. Nooooo I went on this trip and although it was amazing, our group certainly did not have a Common Murre. Lucky, lucky, lucky :)