Posts Tagged ‘Grand Manan



It was one of those mornings where the sun was just breaking through a mist. Not warm but not cold. As I walked over the dewy mown grass to the bushes at the edge of the beach I could see one or two birds flitting around. It was August and we were on Grand Manan Island in North East Canada.

I stood and waited. There had obviously been a movement overnight. Birds had migrated down from the north and were heading south for the winter. Among the American Robins flying overhead I could make out other birds but they were too far away; I couldn’t identify them. My eyes wandered back to the bushes. The first thing I saw was the bright yellow throat and blue head of a Parula Warbler. My mind was instantly transported back 21 years to the 10th October 1995. I was sat in a small boat being taken to St Agnes. I wanted to look in the parsonage garden, a great place to find migrants. Even before I got there the news broke a Parula had been seen in the trees of the parsonage just below the lighthouse. After landing at the quay and walking double quick time it didn’t take long to get there. Within minutes I was watching my first British Northern Parula. A small warbler sporting a cape of gold over blue upperparts and sparkling white wingbars which coincidentally probably originated not too far from Grand Manan … where I was currently stood.

My eyes tripped to the next movement in the seashore bush. The bright yellow of a Common Yellowthroat filled my optics. Exit 2016, hello 1997. 11th October to be precise. This was ridiculous. I was beginning to feel as though I was in some sort of tardis. Again, on the Isles of Scilly. On the Lower Moors extension. From a well watched bramble I willed a Yellowthroat to venture forth. It did in spectacular style. The collective intake of breath from the assembled crowd was audible as the bird sat on the bush and began to preen. Not a face smacking field guide adult but a subtle washed out 1st winter bird; as are all American Warblers that occur on our shores during autumn.

All wonderful memories of wonderful birds in wonderful surroundings. All firmly filed away in memory.




The same … but not the same

No wonder Semi Palmated Plovers are rarely found in the UK. Here’s one I photographed in Canada, Apart from the palmations between some of the toes and the patterning at the base of the bill they are almost indistinguishable from our own Ringed Plovers.



The day of the Phalaropes

Off Grand Manan in Canada we once again made our way out to the fall off; a renowned area for whales known as the sugar bowl. I was behind our skipper looking over his shoulder at the view ahead. I noticed a grey slick on the sea. I strained my eyes. It varied, from a quarter to a half mile wide, but stretched from one horizon to the other. It wasn’t until we got closer I could see it was a gathering of Red necked Phalaropes. Just amazing.

Red necked Phalaropes


The day of the Fin Whales

A Fin Whale is around 75 feet long. The normal reckoning is a whale weighs in at a ton per foot. Fin Whales can swim fast too. They’re not called the greyhounds of the sea for nothing. So when I saw six of these creatures swimming directly for our 40 ton boat off the coast of Grand Manan in Canada last month the total mass coming right at us was around 450 tons … at 30mph … I could feel my heart pounding. At the last second the whales slipped under our keel and surfaced behind us leaving us with open mouths and the stench of whale breath.

Fin Whale 1 Fin Whale 2


Humpback Days

It was just not possible to be disappointed given our experiences in the Bay of Fundy despite not seeing what we went there to see.

Northern Right Whales are among the rarest animals on the planet; with only some 350 alive finding one was always going to be difficult. It was a long shot and despite spending over 27 hours at sea over six days we didn’t have even have a sniff of one. Global warming has made differences of late. Water temperature increases mean the plankton on which the Northern Rights feed is no longer in abundance within the bay and the whales are having to find sustenance elsewhere… I can feel another trip coming on.

In the meantime here are some photos of a few of the many humpbacks we saw. Further insights into what else we saw I’ll let you know of over the next week or so.

Humpback 1 Humpback 2 Humpback 3 Humpback 4 Humpback 5 Humpback 6 Humpback 7Humpback Whale 8


The ultimate photo-bomb

Wilson’s Petrel with Humpback Whale. Taken off Grand Manan in Canada earlier in the month.

Wilsons Petrel and Humpback Whale

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Jun 2023


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