July 13th – A Day In St. John’s

A tribute to a truly great Canadian and one of my heroes – Terry Fox. This is the spot where he started his attempt to run across Canada, with a broken body but the heart of a lion.

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:

The north side of St. John’s harbour. The orange and light blue vessels tend the oil rigs; the red ship with a diagonal white stripe is the CCGS Louis St. Laurent.

Looking toward the end of St. John’s harbour.

The exit/entrance to St. John’s harbour. What an amazing feeling it is to leave the sheltered waters of the harbour and head out into the open ocean. (Fortunately Tropical Storm Chris blew through yesterday.)

I came upon this small tribute to Canada’s UN/NATO forces. A refreshing tribute given the ongoing attack by Donald Trump.

Hmmmm….looks like I’ve got a long way to go. How much of this trail have you done?

While an oil rig tender leaves the harbour, a kick-ass bluegrass band, the High & Lonesome Ramblers, plays away.

The High and Lonesome Ramblers….bluegrass at its best.

Juvenile Herring Gull – its flight feathers haven’t quite grown in enough to allow it to fly. There were lots of them around.

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….

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