Saturday, June 22, 2013

Nova Scotia Summary Pt1

It's been a few days since we returned from our latest RV Tour of Canada and time to reflect on our first visit to the east coast.When Dee and I were planning our 5th visit to Canada, previously all western interior to coast destinations, our criteria was simply to base our next visit almost entirely around the ocean and in particular the east.

Aerial View of Halifax
It was Dee who came up with the idea of visiting Nova Scotia, one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and the most populous province of the four in Atlantic Canada. However, this particular destination was a slight risk! Firstly, would the birding and wildlife be as prolific as the west, secondly for Dee and I who love the wilderness aspect of our Canadian tours, would it be too built up and lastly, due to the modifying influence of the sea Nova Scotia is also very foggy in places, with Halifax averaging 196 foggy days per year and Yarmouth 191.

Common Grackle 
We spent our first couple of days acclimatising ourselves and sightseeing in the province capital of Halifax. Mind you one of the benefits of the east coast is the time difference and unlike the 8 hours of British Columbia to the west, Nova Scotia is only 4 hours behind and so not such an issue. In fact the birding got off to a good start too, when while sitting out having dinner on our first night (5) Common Grackle flew over the restaurant, a first for Canada. Thanks to Ronnie Dentremont for the image.

On arrival mid afternoon the weather was stunning with clear blue skies and a very pleasant 26C. However, on our first full day had one of our earlier fears come to fruition? We awoke to fog! Thankfully, as is the norm here at this time of year according to our cab driver, the fog had burnt off around mid morning to produce another stunning day.

Halifax Harbour Ferry
Staying at Dartmouth means that there's an opportunity to take the Harbour Ferry across to Halifax, a first chance to see what birds might be around the harbour area, of which I'm told is the 4th largest harbour in the world. If I'm being brutally honest from a birding perspective it was a little disappointing! No sea Ducks, no Terns, no Swallows and only two Gull species on show, Great Blacked-backed and American Herring Gull, in fact the only two Gull species we managed during our whole time in the province! The highlight was the odd Harbour Seal which kept bobbing up for a look every now and then. Will things get any better as we head south? Part 2 follows.....