Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone! Today certainly is a windy one on the Island but the sun was out and i got a chance to go for a walk to Northern Light and look at the waves rolling in. Christmas eve our power went out in the morning due to rain and heavy winds and of course the turkey was in the oven almost done so i finished cooking it the pioneering way and wrapped it in tinfoil in the roaster and put it on the wood stove. Cooked like a charm. Did the dressing patties this way also. The power came back on at 12 and we pulled off our Christmas eve turkey dinner. From my family to yours i hope everyone has safe and happy holiday!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Holly Berries

On Tuesday i went down pond cove to look for some Canada Holly berries to trim our bird tree with. As i drove down gull rock road i could see in the swampy areas red berries brightly showing up against the brown and dull background. They are so lovely to see this time of the year. As i collected some i decided to go down to pond cove and inspect the wildlife there. As i walked towards the beach i noticed two turkey vultures and 3 bald eagles flying in the air. As i got closer i found out the reason why there was a feeding frenzy there, two grey seals had washed up on the beach. Also flying around in the area was snow buntings.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas tree for the birds!

Yesterday my nephew and i trimmed a Christmas tree for the birds. We took some pine cones and painted peanut butter on them and rolled them in bird seed. The star was made of popcorn, and we placed it on the tree outside the library. One of the lessons i was going to do with the westport school was tree identification and a scavenger hunt so they can tell what is a good Christmas tree and what is not (example cat spruce.) Unfortunately they cut down a little Christmas tree for the library (it was a cat spruce). So we decided to use it anyway outside for the birds. We will also be placing some holly berries on as well.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Humpback Whale entanglement story by Carl Haycock

My crewmates and I successfully disentangled a humpback whale this morning. I have to give credit to the many seminars I have attended over the years on the subject, David Mattila, my experience with humpbacks, my crewmates, and the disentanglement gear and a few others who cannot be named. Today, Nov. 28th, while headed out to go lobster fishing in St. Mary's Bay, we encountered a humpback whale that was tail breaching. My captain (Howard Graham) noticed it first and alerted me. The time was 6:50 a.m. AST. It was just after daylight. We were just 1 nm south of the southern passage ( Peter's Island ) Lat. 44.14.26 Long. 66.20.06 (off Greenhead). We went over to have a look and noticed a large yellow balloon (buoy) and a smaller buoy along side the whale. I groaned. After further observation we saw that the whale was entangled in the buoy line of a lobster trawl. We could see the buoys from the other end of the trawl nearby. (Trawls around here usually have 15 to 20 traps with 50lb to 80lb anchors on each end. The depth of the water at this location was 34 fathoms so there was certainly 70 fathoms of buoy line on each end of the trawl). We noticed 2 wraps of line around the girth of the whale midway between the blowhole and dorsal fin. We watched for a few minutes as the whale would spyhop, stretch, and occasionally tail breach but did not seem overly distressed. It would drift slowly north, then drift slowly south. Obviously it was caught up in the buoy line of a trawl, which is anchored on both ends. So the whale was limited in it's movement. Other fishermen and I suggested that Howard call Fundy Coast Guard radio. He called. They responded and we were told to stand by. We waited over an hour... In the meantime I talked to Harold Graham, who was also fishing, called Shelley Barnaby on her cell, called the Coast Guard station at Northern Point (they were waiting for permission from Halifax) and talked to Roy Graham who was fishing in the area and he came along to help monitor the situation. His wife Penny was taking either video or photos at the time. (I will talk to her when they get home.) We also contacted the owner of the buoys/trawl, ("Bay Challenger" out of Freeport). He was miles away but gave us permission to haul his gear if need be. My other crewmates were Floyd Graham and Jason Graham. (Jason happened to have a disposable 35 mm on board so I took a few shots of the entanglement and he took the rest.) Anyways, no sign of the Coast guard. Howard finally got a call from Fundy Coast Guard on the VHF and said Halifax had been alerted. We were told to STAND BY. We were getting frustrated. I called Shelley again and she saw no movement of the Coast Guard. (She was in Westport at the office.) All the while I was being very patient. I think the whale probably got entangled overnight. The whole fleet goes out that passage morning noon and night. It would have been noticed otherwise. I was talking with Roy Graham on the VHF and we had discussed hauling up one of the buoy lines and cutting off at least one anchor. I suggested this as a last resort. Right now the whale was "Restricted in his ability to manoeuvre," we have a much better chance to get the deed done. He agreed. Roy went off to fish nearby and we stayed with the animal. Here I am on the "Becky and Boys," (sister ship to the "Kenney & Girls," whom you know intimately) tending an entangled whale. The whale was going no where so we went in and got the gear ourselves. We headed back out. We opened up the gear. I knew what I saw and knew what we needed. I think we did 5 extensions. We attached the smallest cutting knife. Floyd and I put on the gloves in the kit. Jason stood by. Howard used his good judgement (wind was SW 20, seas 3-5') to manoeuver the boat. It took several attempts but we finally got close enough so that I could attempt to snatch one of the 2 wraps. They were tight around the whale. Floyd was behind me holding on to the back of the pole for support. I was not having success. He suggested going under the rope from the back, but I disagreed and tried again to get the rope from the front so I could pull back. I finally got hold and SNAP we got one line. The whale was still alongside so I tried for the second line and I got it, but it would not cut. Floyd and I yanked hard and it finally came free but it did not cut the rope. After bringing the telescoping knife aboard we saw that the blade was damaged. So we looked through the KIT and saw another. We replaced it and tried again. Howard manoeuvred the boat and we got alongside again and we were successful at cutting the second line, again, which was across the girth of the whale. We all yelled in excitement. Moments later as the whale slowly drifted off, we noticed the yellow balloon/buoy was still floating along the whales back. We were patient, and went around the whale slowly (because of wind and weather) and noticed that rope from the balloon was sunk and wrapped around its right flipper. Our job was not done! So Howard manoeuvred the boat around again (at this point the "Chad & Sisters 2" came around to view the scene). At this point we witnessed an amazing thing. The whale came alongside us, it came to us. We had already cut the two lines around the girth and now needed to do more. I think the whale knew that. It wanted us to help. So as the animal laid there. It took all four of us after several attempts at gaffing the buoy, trying to cut the rope with both a knife and the entanglement gear, but finally we got the deed done. The whale sank, the buoy floated away and the whale splashed and dove. We saw the animal again and it was free of gear. It swam away. We were are so relieved and exhilarated and exhausted. We freed the animal at 9:05 AST. It seemed like at eternity but once we had the proper gear we had the deed done in 30 minutes. The whale helped and should also deserve credit. Afterthoughts... I noticed lots of raw, red chaffing on the peduncle. I initially thought it was more rope. The animal was 45', big girth.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Entangled Humpback Whale

Penny Graham sent me some pictures yesterday she took of an entangled humpback whale in the St.Mary's Bay. It was set free from the crew of the Becky and Boys notice article above.Good job everyone!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dumping Day, district 34 lobster season

Well the season has arrived the first of lobster season that is! Dumping day as we call it turned out to be pretty nice. Beautiful sunrise. Lots of birds around especially Northern Gannets. The humpbacks were still spotted in St.Mary's Bay today by a local fisherman. I also sighted a fin whale near pond cove.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dumping Day!

Today fisherman were loading traps onto their boats getting ready for the first of lobster season which starts in our area Monday 24th. Hope everyone has a safe dumping day!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hundreds of Gannets

November 22, 2008 i sighted about 200 Northern Gannets in the Westport Harbor. They were diving continously one right after the other! The water was slashing everywhere! This picture is quite far away but i put it in anyway because it was such a spectacular sight!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wild weather and 4 humpback whales

Today was wild weather and in amongst all the fury of the sea 4 humpback whales appeared in St. Mary's Bay near Dartmouth point. Judging from the dorsal fins it was PD and calf. Carl thought one of the others was Flame but we couldn't figure out the 4th. I also sighted 5 male Pheasants in my back yard.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Masked Booby

David Tudor reported a strange looking bird near the road by Balancing rock in Tiverton. He reported this bird to Carl Haycock and both went over to look for the bird in question to no avail. The next day they met up with a hunter who said they would look out for anything that fit the discription they gave him and to their surprise they got a call that it was indeed in the woods not to far from Balancing Rock. Carl and David rushed to Tiverton and found the bird and after much debate on NatureNS found out it was a Masked Booby. These birds are normally found in warm waters around Dry Tortugas, Florida so it was really off course. Carl immediately got a hold of the beak and put his oil jacket over the bird. They then took it to the nearest cove and put it back into the water. Alas they did not have time to take pictures, but it was a great find and a good job to them both for putting in time and effort to find and release this amazing bird.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Whale spouts, shorebirds and raptors....

What a lovely day although still a bit on the cool side. To nice to stay inside so i took a hike with a friend to goosberry cove and followed the shoreline until we reached Northern Light. Of course i am always scanning for whale spouts on the horizon and low and behold near seal cove we sighted two spouts in the rip. Must of been some feed in this area because the whales appeared to not be diving deep or fluking up. By the looks of the spouts i would say it was a mother and calf humpback pair. Also lots of Adult Northern Gannets flying by as we watched these two whales. I then took a hike to pond cove and headed towards the beach. The tide was low but on its way in and although the wind was a bit chilly it was a nice clear day. The first thing i heard when i stepped on the beach was the seals moaning on the rock bar. It sounded like a group of ghosts! As i walked across the sand i came across some shorebirds feeding. I sighted 10 Sanderlings, 1 Dunlin, and 2 Semi-palmated sandpipers. As i wondered up to the outlet and into big pond 20 American Pipits ,24 Crows flew in the air along with 2 Imm. Bald Eagles. The eagles landed on the top of a tree and had a stare down. After 5 minutes one of them flew up into the air and glided towards the back of the pond and coming towards me was 24 Black Ducks and 9 Turkey Vultures. 3 Pheaseants flew up into the air as i was walking towards the dune area and startled me. As i drove back to my house a flock of 60 Robins flew over my house along with many Common Grackles. Dark-eyed Juncos were everywhere along the roadsides.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Shorebirds at pond cove

Hello Everyone!
Today turned out to be a mild and beautiful day. Got out for a hike around pea jack and pond cove. At pea jack i sighted a bald eagle and 1 turkey vulture. In pond cove i sighted 3 turkey vultures, 1 northern harrier, 20 american pipits, 30 snowbuntings, 5 semi-palmated sandpipers, 1 sanderling, 3 dunlins, 6 black-bellied plovers.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Nova Scotia weather at its finest!

What weather we are having! Today it was foggy, then it brightened up long enough to get a short walk in then it started to thunder and lightning and the rain came pouring down in sheets! Talk about wait 10 minutes and the weather will change i guess you have to chalk it up to Nova Scotia weather! On my short walk i noticed Black ducks, 1 mallard, Great Blue Heron, 2 Common Loons, Double-crested cormorants.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fin Whales and Bird sightings

Today was mild but muggy. Later in the day we experienced some rain. Todays sightings include a large numbers of common grackles moving through our area. Also sighted some Red-winged blackbirds. My husband noticed a large number of brown creepers in the woods in Central Grove Long Island. I spotted one creeping down my tree yesterday. Anne Mills noticed lots of gannets going by western light and a spout of about 4 fin whales.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Whipples Point

I continued my hike and parked my car at western light. Then i walked around whipples point. A good spot to go looking for amethyst and quartz. Found two pieces of amethyst along with pieces of jasper. Also sighted a Red Bat - Lasiurus borealis. It is a migrant bat. My friend Peter commented on a couple of the distinguishing features that were clear from my picture such as - furred dorsal side of the uropatagium (skin between the legs that encloses the tail) this separates it from the Myotis sp. like the Little Brown Bat. Based on colouration and the facial features (few other Canadian bats have red flesh on the face). Other bats in this genus have black fur edging the ears as well as the back ruf having black, brown, and white fur mixed in. This is a great find! hanging upside down in a tree fast asleep!

What a gorgeous day today! Great day to put on the knapsack and head for the shore. Went to pond cove at 9 this morning. At that time it was mild but it was very overcast out. The tide was low so i went to explore some of the seaweed that had washed ashore in big piles along the beach. Along the beach i noticed some shorebirds so i got out my trusty notebook and started to do my count for the shorebird survey. The information is sent into Canadian Wildlife Federation and i have been doing this for probably 4 years now. Some of the shorebirds i sighted today was: 24 Semi palmated Sandpipers, 2 dunlins, 9 Black-bellied Plovers. Other birds in the area was 57 American pipits, 4 green-winged teal, 43 black ducks, 1 great blue heron. Also sighted 14 turkey vultures and i figure the reason for the group to be enticed to pond cove was the large grey seal carcass found on the beach. As i walked along the beach and into the outlet (this is an area along the barrier beach that breaks out every year and floods with salt water into big pond.) Big pond has flooding from fresh water in back of the pond which makes for brackish water. This area i was walking through and sighted a dead harbor seal pup. As i walked further into big pond 4 turkey vultures were feeding on another seal carcass.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Deer family....

This snapshot of a doe and two young ones was taken on my husbands deer camera he had mounted in the woods near my dads place in Freeport.

Cold Clear day...

Today was clear but definately took a turn towards winter weather. We even sighted our first flakes of snow this morning. The winds are bitterly cold today also but it did not deter me from going on a hike. Hiking to Northern light there was lots of dark-eyed juncos flying about and several white-throated sparrows in the thickets and alders. Also groups of Blue jays are flying through along with several crows and common grackles. My friend and i hiked around Northern Lighthouse and along the shore past seal cove and on to pea jack. It was a bit wet in places but passable. The sky was a brilliant shade of blue with billowy white clouds and as i looked up low and behold an adult bald eagle was soaring above us. If only i had thought to bring my camera along! On the left i have added a picture i took this summer of seal cove where we sighted the bald eagle. Waves were crashing along the shore sending huge waves into the air and the contrast of the light blue sky with the deep blue sea was spectacular!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Nature Sightings on a cold clear day....

It has been a clear but chilly day you can certainly tell winter isn't to far off.Today while going for a walk at Northern Light i spotted lots of Northern Gannets diving. Must have been a good supply of fish nearby. Also some black-capped chickadees and American Goldfinches moving through the area. In the harbor i sighted 8 Common Loons, and a black guillemot.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Welcome to the Brier Island Nature Blog

I was asked by several people to publish my photographs and natural sightings in and around our Islands. Writing personal experiences about the Islands way of life and telling visitors about our natural beauty i see everyday looking out my living room window and into the Bay of Fundy.I hope you enjoy reading my posts and please feel free to comment or send me events happening in our area.