St. John’s….one of my favourite cities….anywhere. Small enough that you can walk around most of it but with a vibrant core suffused with music and the sea. It’s an active port and you’re right next to the action. The ship I was supposed to be heading out on to do seabird counts was delayed by Tropical Storm Chris so I had a day on my hands. The storm went through yesterday with high winds and driving drizzle but today I woke up to blue skies and a cool breeze off the ocean – a perfect day for walking. Here’s some pictures I took on my jaunt:
And, of course, while I was walking I was counting birds. I saw 5 Yellow Warblers and became sort of fixated on this question: how do long-distance migrants access the island in the Spring and how do they leave it in the Fall? This rattled around in my head for quite a few kilometers. In the Spring, do they take off from the northernmost point in Cape Breton and head for the SW corner of Newfoundland near Port-aux-Basques of do they cross the Cabot Strait on a broad front and make landfall at numerous places along the south shore? Or….do they cross the St. Lawrence at a relatively narrow spot, move along the north shore and then hop back down into Newfoundland across the narrow Strait of Belle Isle?
In the Fall…..I don’t see a lot of viable options. the birds either fly SW or perish. At Ruthven some of “our” Fall migrants head S or even SE (e.g., Blackpoll Warblers). This strategy would leave long-distance migrants leaving Newfoundland out over the open ocean until they simply ran out of gas (fat)…..or got REALLY lucky and lasted long enough to hit the NE Trade winds which would push them to the Greater and Lesser Antilles. This would require though that they head out with enormous fat loads.
Obviously we need more banding stations in Newfoundland and Cape Breton……maybe HBO should help set up some substations….