Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Freeport Cove today

Hello Everyone
With the vapour on the water and wind chill it definately felt like winter had hit! IN Freeport today i sighted lots of small groups of Black ducks grouped together trying to stay warm, 2 Buffleheads, 14 Canada Geese. Black Gullimots, eider ducks,common loons and long tailed ducks were sighted also sighted in grand passage.
Nice night to stay in by the wood stove, hope everyone keeps warm Happy New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Today is very windy but the raptors were in full force today. At northern light i sighted a mature bald eagle and an immature bald eagle, 2 merlins, 2 northern harriers, and a peregrine falcon. Also at my feeder today 6 pheasants.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas Everyone! Hoping everyone has a safe and happy holiday!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sightings from the village

Hi Everyone
Today i walked around the village and sighted: American Tree Sparrows, Black-capped Chickadees, Common Grackles, Mourning Doves, Blue Jays and Rock Pigeons. Soaring over grand passage was a mature Bald Eagle.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Hi Everyone
Today was mild but alot of people were still digging out from all the snow dumped on us. As i write this post the snow mixed with rain is coming down quite steadily. With a little break in the weather i decided to go for a hike to Northern Light. On the cliff side going up the hill towards the lodge i sighted two turkey vulture circling then out of the blue a Peregrine falcon flew by like a speeding rocket! Wow what speed they have amazing sight to see! Also a Bald Eagle was soaring towards Peter's Island. Lots of chickadee's along the roadside in the thickets.Also wanted to report a sighting from Courtney Welch, yesterday she sighted a Barred owl at western light.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Brier Island Bird Count

by Eric mills

Weather overcast, 4-8C; wind E 10kph, then SSE 10 kph

0730-1700 AST

Participants: Anne Mills, Eric Mills (compiler), Jim Wolford

52 species; about 2207 individuals

Canada Goose - 9; Black Duck - 103; Mallard - 5; Green-winged Teal - 1; Common Eider - 61; Surf Scoter - 3; White-winged Scoter - 10; Black Scoter - 2; Long-tailed Duck - 106; Bufflehead - 3; Common Goldeneye - 35; Red-breasted Merganser - 29; Ring-necked Pheasant - 5; Ruffed Grouse - 1; Common Loon - 45; Red-necked Grebe - 6; Northern Gannet - 71; Double-crested Cormorant - 2; Great Cormorant - 127; Turkey Vulture - 12; Bald Eagle - 1; Northern Harrier - 1; Red-tailed Hawk - 1; Peregrine Falcon - 1; Pomarine Jaeger - 1; Ring-billed Gull - 8; Herring Gull - 812; Iceland Gull - 13; Glaucous Gull - 1; Great Black-backed Gull - 287; Black-legged Kittiwake - 58; Razorbill - 1; Black Guillemot - 24; alcid sp. - 40; Rock Pigeon - 4; Mourning Dove - 33; Hairy Woodpecker - 1; Blue Jay - 13; American Crow - 93; Common Raven - 11; Black-capped Chickadee - 32; Boreal Chickadee - 1; Golden-crowned Kinglet - 22; Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 1; European Starling - 52; American Pipit - 11; American Tree Sparrow - 11; Song Sparrow - 2; White-throated Sparrow - 1; Red-winged Blackbird - 1; Common Grackle - 25; Brown-headed Cowbird - 3; American Goldfinch - 5.

Birds in the count week but not on count day: Red-throated Loon, Horned Lark, Bohemian Waxwing.

Comments: There can't have been many Brier Island counts without a single Junco. There was also a real dearth of Song Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows, and not a single Cardinal remaining from another successful breeding season. But despite the scarcity of land birds, bringing the count of the individuals below average, the total number of species was about average, and birding conditions were good, which is rare during these counts. Calm winds and very good visibility on the sea helped a lot, although it was not a year of sea bird spectaculars. Nonetheless, several hours of sea-watching added significantly to the species count and to numbers. The highlight on the sea was a distant but very well seen adult Pomarine Jaeger hurrying to the southwest out of the Bay of Fundy. The big pond in Pond Cove, which had been totally frozen up to 24 hours before count day opened up when the temperature rose and an east wind came up, and the ducks responded, to the advantage of the count. Great sights: the jaeger, of course, but also a stunning adult Peregrine surveying Pea Jack Cove from atop a rocky pinnacle. It was good to have a Ruby-crowned Kinglet for the count - definitely an off again - on again species in December on Brier Island.

Winter wonderland

Welcome to a winter wonderland! Yesterday we got dumped on and today it took me two hours to dig my car out of my driveway! Didn't seem to deter the wildlife though. Lots of Black-capped chickadees around, dark-eyed juncos, and 6 turkey vultures circling the village.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Great Horned Owl

Sightings from Jim Wolford posted on Nature NS
My final sighting for the day came at Freeport, about one minute after leaving the ferry from Westport (still in the Brier Island Count Circle?), I had a great and startling look at 4:40 p.m. of a huge-seeming OWL that had to be a great horned owl -- it flew over the road, from south to north, at an angle at very low elevation so that I had it in sight for several seconds as it angled away from the road, probably not far from Andy Moir's and Chris Callaghan's property. Eric & Anne Mills on Brier Island saw some Canada geese on Sunday and Monday but not on the Brier Island Count Day Tuesday. A few of my own Brier Island highlights on Tuesday included a ruby-crowned kinglet (& maybe a second one), an unidentified warbler with yellow underparts (not a yellow-rumped nor palm, maybe orange-crowned or Nashville?)(not seen well), about a dozen c. grackles, about 20 cowbirds, 1 red-winged blackbird (Westport town always has a mixed flock of blackbirds in winter), and 100+ harbour seals hauled out on rocks at low tide west of Northern Light (Eric Mills reported just harbour seals at Pond Cove with no grey seals).

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Stormy seas

The seas have been rough the wind has been howling here for almost three days now. Finally today we caught a break in the weather and the men had a chance to go out and check their lobstering gear.
Today i took a hike to Northern Light and sighted great cormorants, northern gannets,eider ducks. ALong the road some Black-capped chickadees were flying in and out of the thickets.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Red Fox

Hi Everyone
Today i sighted a special treat while driving in Little River i sighted a Red Fox! What a beautiful coat he had, wish i had my camera with me. Also sighted a red-tailed hawk today.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Bird Sightings

Hi Everyone
Today while driving along Digby Neck i sighted turkey vultures and a bald eagle. When i got to Brier Island 60 Canada Geese were honking overhead. I also had about 10 hen pheasants in my yard with one male pheasant. In the harbor i sighted 3 common loons.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Julie's Nature Notes

Had a note from Julie. Here is her sightings from Freeport.
went out after the rain on thursday to dartmouth point and saw some purple sandpipers. I have never seen these before so was thrilled.
sure is beautiful out there with the warm wind...

Lobster Season Begins

Hello Everyone
Our small communities have certainly been busy. On November 30th district 34 opened its lobster season. I took some pictures of the boats going out by Peter's Island with their second load of traps on for the day. Lots of gannets were diving in the passage and a seal popped its head up once in awhile to see what all the commotion was about. Here is some pictures of the Mega Nova. Boy they certainly deserve every cent they get to with stand the sometimes brutal conditions they have to work in. Lots of men and women are very tired but the catch is up and hopefully the prices will be to.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Harlequin Ducks

Hello everyone
Julie sent over some pictures of harlequin ducks at the shore at central grove in long island. There were 3 pair and one odd man out!

Thanks for sharing Julie and Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Minke whale

Hi Everyone
This morning i sighted a Minke whale going through the passage. As i traveled up Digby Neck i sighted a Rough-legged Hawk dead on the side of the road. In seawall i sighted a Great Blue Heron fishing in the salt marsh.
The rain is really coming down now, oh well at least we have had a pretty good November. All of the lobster traps are piled high on the wharf getting and everyone is getting ready for the dumping day last monday in November is when district 34 opens the lobster fishery in our area. I hope everyone has a safe and prosperous season.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ducks, raptors, vultures

Hi Everyone
Had a chance to take a quick hike to pond cove and search the area for purple sandpipers. This time of the year i always do the purple sandpiper survey for Canada Wildlife Federation. It also documents any other shorebirds that may be in the area at that time. Alas there was no shorebirds today but lots of black ducks, 4 long tailed ducks, and eider ducks. I left pond cove and then headed towards Freeport where 9 Turkey Vultures were soaring overhead near the ferry dock. On my way up Digby Neck i sighted a mature bald eagle near mink cove.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Raptors, and Vultures moving through

Hi Everyone
Today was a overcast with a bit of wind. The raptors and vultures were moving through today, along with common grackles and Blue Jays.
At pond cove i sighted a Great Blue Heron, lots of black ducks, 1 Northern Harrier, 1 Mature Bald Eagle, and 1 Turkey Vulture.
SIghted soaring overhead in my back yard 12 turkey vultures, 1 northern harrier and 1 merlin.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Fin Whale entanglement

This is a story Christine Callaghan put in our Island's newspaper called,"Passages". I asked if i could post it on my blog for everyone to enjoy. I would like to thank Andy Moir and Chris Callaghan for sending the story and pictures Todd for reporting and staying with the whale,Mackie and Jerry for their dedication and everyone else involved in the disentanglement of this whale. Great job everyone!

Fin Whale Entangled
By Christine Callaghan

The twelve passengers who set out aboard the Fundy Cruiser, on a whale watch with Pirate’s Cove Whale and Seabird Cruises on October 9th, got more than they bargained for. It was overcast, but the seas were calm. Captain Todd Sollows headed for an area where we had been finding humpbacks on recent trips, about six miles off. Scanning ahead, he spotted a blow in the distance. Bingo! However, at almost the same time, he caught a very brief glimpse of something else at the surface, between us and where the humpback was. Then, along the starboard side, we saw a long length of rope at the surface on the water. Todd veered off, to avoid getting the line tangled in the propeller. All of a sudden a small pink buoy, not much bigger than a grapefruit, broke the surface of the water, and then went under again. I didn’t connect the dots at all, but Todd’s years of experience at the helm immediately told him one thing: entangled whale. He admitted later that he would have much preferred to continue on toward the humpbacks, but of course his conscience wouldn’t allow him to do that. When he explained the situation to the people, they immediately expressed their dismay at the plight of the animal, and their willingness to stay with it, in hopes that we could somehow help it. By this time, it had been several minutes since whatever it was had surfaced. When it did appear again, for just a single blow, we were able to identify it as a fin whale. (Finback whales are the second largest in the world, after the Blue Whale, and can be almost ninety feet in length. Known for their speed, they are called the “greyhounds of the sea”.) Unlike usual sightings, this whale wasn’t even showing its dorsal fin, and it was so thin we could see its backbone. Obviously it was exhausted, and had been dragging gear for a long time. Todd got on the radio, and contacted Shelley Barnaby and Harold Graham, of Brier Island Whale and Seabird Cruises. There is disentanglement gear in Westport, but since they were out on the water it was unavailable. Also, whale watch operators and crew on this side of the Bay need additional training in using the equipment safely. Anyway, a “phone tree” has been established, so Shelley called the Marine Animal Rescue Society, who notified Head Harbour Marine Mammal Rescue on Campobello Island, on the New Brunswick side. At first they advised us to try to gaff the buoy and cut it off, hoping that the rest of the gear might then slip off. Todd was reluctant to do that, though, since the only way we could keep track of the animal was by occasionally spotting that little pink balloon. And keeping track of the whale was a challenge, as its pattern was to surface for a single breath, then to disappear for several minutes, sometimes travelling a fair distance. When it went down, so did the little balloon. Eventually, we were able to get right alongside of it, and one of our passengers leaned over the side and snapped a shot of a mass of rope and a large balloon wrapped around the submerged tail. When Todd saw that, he knew there was no way cutting off the small buoy was going to solve this problem. He radioed Campobello to tell them how badly the whale was entangled, and Mackie Greene and Jerry Conway agreed to come across in their zodiac with disentanglement equipment. By this time we had spent about two hours with the finback, and our passengers were looking longingly at humpbacks in the distance. Todd radioed Tom Goodwin of Ocean Explorations, who was also out that day, asking if he and his passengers would mind “baby sitting” while we gave our people a look at some whales. Tom agreed, and as he approached he spotted the length of trailing rope. Todd was able to tie a large balloon to it, making it much easier to keep track of the whale. By now it was late afternoon. Todd realized that it would take about an hour for Mackie and Jerry to make it over from New Brunswick, and that they might need his assistance when they did arrive. So he radioed his father, Alger, to come out in Pirates Cove’s second boat, to take our passengers ashore. While we waited, our patient people finally got a good look at some humpbacks. Alger arrived, and he and Todd traded boats. Some of the passengers begged to observe the rescue attempt, and Todd let them go along. As much as I would have loved to stay, I headed in with Alger and the other guests. I heard the rest of the story from Todd and three Dutch travellers. Tom advised Todd of the whale’s whereabouts, and headed back to shore. Todd spotted the big balloon, and stayed with the animal. Mackie and Jerry’s zodiac appeared on the horizon and sped to the location. They were able to snag the length of trailing rope, and attached two big balloons close to the whale, before cutting the rest off. Todd and our passengers hauled the loose rope aboard, more than 600 feet of it. Todd deliberately gave the rescue craft some distance, so as not to further stress the animal. The whale, of course, wouldn’t understand that these vessels were trying to help it. It picked up speed and dove, dragging the two balloons down. Dusk was approaching, and Todd knew that it would take an hour to get back to shore, and that there was nothing further he could do, so he headed in. Realizing they needed to slow the whale down further, Mackie and Jerry were able to attach a sea anchor, (like an underwater parachute), to the gear still trailing behind it. That created enough drag that suddenly the two big balloons that they had attached, plus the mass of rope and the balloon that had been so tightly wrapped around the whale’s tail popped to the surface. They were pretty well satisfied that they had freed the whale of most, if not all the gear that had entangled it. Let’s hope that beautiful creature is again swimming fast and free. “Good Job” to all involved.

Pond Cove

This afternoon the sun decided to come out, although it was still windy i decided to go to pond cove to have a look around. It was a very high tide with waves rolling in up over the beach. I sighted 4 Snow Buntings along big pond and two turkey vultures.

Hike this morning

Hi Everyone
Today is overcast and the wind is starting to pick up so i decided to get out for a hike before it started to rain. Hiked to Northern Light and sighted 2 Golden-crowned Kinglets, 1 Common Loon,and some Northern Gannets. The trees are looking bare now but you can really see the canada holly red berries, and rosehips. As i walked on water street i looked into the swampy area on the seaward side to see if the muskrat was there and sure enough i could see him swimming and then dive with a spash. AS i was driving along second street i sighted a great blue heron flying.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Turkey Vultures

HI Everyone
Traveling down Digby Neck today i sighted a kettle of 30 Turkey Vultures by Lake Midway. IN Sandy Cove i sighted 10 more. The wind is starting to pick up this evening and it is starting to rain. I wonder if we will get the storm they are predicting. I guess time will tell. Good night to stay in by the wood stove.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Northern Light sightings

Hi Everyone
Went for a hike to Northern Light and sighted 6 common loons in a group. On my way back there is a bit of a marshy area on the seaward side where i sighted 2 little Muskrats chewing on grass. As the ferry was coming across the passage i snapped this photo. Took some pics of the muskrats also. Enjoyed this lovely day!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Northern Light this morning

Hello Everyone
This morning there was lots of frost on the ground and you could see it rising over the passage. It soon warmed up a bit so i decided to take a hike to Northern Light. Here is my sightings from this morning:
80 Robins in a huge flock
1 Immature Bald Eagle
2 Merlins
1 Red-tailed Hawk
Dark-eyed Juncos in the alders and along the road side
1 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Lots of Song Sparrows
Along the path to Seal Cove
9 Grey seals enjoying the sun
8 Eider Ducks
3 Northern Gannets flew by

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Kettle of Turkey Vultures

Today while at the library i sighted a 25 turkey vultures in a kettle with 4 broad-winged hawks. Also sighted a flock of common grackles and dark-eyed juncos.

Northern Cardinal

Hi Everyone
Neil Green sent me this picture of a Northern Cardinal at Northern Light enjoying escargot.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Turkey Vultures and Bald Eagles

Hi Everyone
Today was a bit cool but nice and clear. As i headed off to Digby this morning (upgrading my academic math, biology and chemistry) i viewed a beautiful pink sunrise (the old timers always told me if there is a red sky in the morning sailors take warning!) Maybe tomorrow we will get gales! As i returned home tonight while crossing the ferry in Petite passage i sighted 22 Turkey Vultures gliding over to east ferry along with 4 Bald Eagles! WOW what a sight! Have a great day everyone!

Friday, October 23, 2009

SIghtings from today

Today was cold and windy but clear so i decided to hike Northern Light and Pond Cove
Here are some of my sightings from today..
Northern Light
Turkey Vulture
Sharp-shinned Hawk
2 American Goldfinches
4 Common Loons in the harbour
Near my house in the village
4 Eastern Bluebirds
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Blue jays
Dark-eyed Juncos
Song Sparrows
Eastern Kingbird

At Pond Cove
14 Horned Larks
Merlin chasing them
Northern Harrier making the rounds
Turkey Vulture
Greater Yellowlegs
50 Green-winged Teal
Black Ducks

ALong Gull Rock Road i sighted a red-tailed Hawk

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Common Loons

Hi Everyone
Julie sent me a note along with this picture of common loons seen at Dartmouth point, she sighted 7 in a group.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bird Sightings

Here is Laura Titus list from NatureNS on October 18

Just passing along a couple of interesting sightings from yesterday at my parents' backyard in Westport. Amongst the mass of blue jays and starlings was a baltimore oriole which hung around for a while but hasn't been seen again. There were a number of cowbirds and common grackles at the feeders, one of which was a partial albino grackle. It's head was all pure white and it had white patches on its belly. I hadn't seen a bird before with lack of pigment, although I know it can be somewhat common, so it was special to see.

Also this afternoon I saw a bald eagle on the rock ledge at the southern side of Peter's Island.

Laura Titus

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Deer and Raptors

Hi Everyone
Today is windy, cool, and overcast. AS i drove down Digby Neck a doe walked out in front og me by the Digby Neck School. It was very unconcerned about me and continued to look at me and saunter on its way. Lots of deer around right now, be careful driving. I also have noticed lots of raptors around from the Islands and up along Digby Neck. Some of the raptors i sighted on Friday was:
Red tailed Hawk
Broad-winged hawk
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Turkey Vultures (many flying over sandy cove, freeport and westport).
Northern Harriers
Bald Eagle

This morning i sighted 4 Eastern Bluebirds hanging out on my clothesline.
Lots of Dark-eyed Junco`s, Song Sparrows, northern flickers and Blue jays moving through.
Also sighted a Great Blue Heron flying as th ferry landed.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Bluebirds and Sapsuckers

Today is clear, but windy. As i was looking out my kitchen window i noticed an Eastern Bluebird sitting on the wire so i grabbed my camera and took some pictures. While out in the yard i also got some photo's of a yellow-bellied sapsucker trying to get a lunch from the willow trees. When that didn't work he banged on the hydro pole. There was 4 eastern bluebirds flying around and 2 yellow-bellied sapsuckers.

Last day of Whale Watching

Hi Everyone
Yesterday on our last day of whale watching was a clear and crisp with a little bit of wind. As we steamed out into the Bay of Fundy i noticed lots of harbour porpoises, pockets of Greater and Sotty Shearwaters, Adult Northern Gannets diving, lots of Northern Fulmars, 5 Red Phalaropes and an Atlantic puffin flying by. We steamed down below the buoys and came across Foggy and Luna travelling together. I found it was appropriate seeing Foggy for our last trip ( i have a soft spot for foggy). Here is some pictures from the day...