Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Saturday 19 November 2016

Of whales and other creatures

I can't believe it's 3 months since our adventure in Newfoundland, so it's been interesting to look back through my photos and select a few for this blog post - the one I promised about the wildlife we saw on our road trip.

We were warned about Moose. Apparently many folk are injured and tragically some die in road accidents caused by Moose straying onto roads in Newfoundland. We saw huge road signs recording the year's fatal collisions. But we saw no sign of the giant gangly beasts. However while staying at Trinity we were looking forward to walking the Skerwink Trail and were warned that a family of Moose were on the headland. After the first bend in the path we spotted the youngster ... reading a house sign!

We slowly and calmly walked past as he munched on the vegetation. There was no sign of his parents ... although we knew they couldn't be far away - this made our return at dusk slightly un-nerving!

Beavers are one of my favourite animals, I find it amazing how a relatively small animal can fell trees and made such massive constructions. This lodge is on a lake near Rocky Harbour.
One evening just outside St Anthony we stopped by a lake where we thought we had spotted a beaver swimming back and forth carrying small branches. Then a much larger beast appeared - compared to the 'beaver' it was massive! The penny dropped, we had been watching a Muskrat. I didn't take shots as the light was failing, mosquitoes were eating me alive and it started raining.

This little squirrel was easy to photograph, he just sat nibbling a berry by the Skerwink Trail path.

And this Jack Rabbit - or Arctic Hare (wearing his summer coat) was even more laid back, he was just hopping around outside our cabin at Gambo.

Of course it's the giant beasts of the sea that Newfoundland is famed for. At St Anthony we went on the obligatory Whale Watching trip, this also included a close encounter with a massive ice-berg! We did see whales, and some were quite close to the boat. I think that these are Humpbacks.

And this is a Fin Whale, which was my favourite - they are HUGE, the 2nd largest mammal - over 20 metres long (70+ feet).

On a Whale Watching boat you expect to see Whales and Dolphins, but what surprised me was the fact that pretty much anywhere along the coast of Newfoundland you can just sit on a high headland and see Whales - it's just fantastic! This rocky cliff top at Bonavista was one of the best locations ...

... and because you are high above the water you get a great view of the whales - you hear them too, as they breathe out - a deep swooshing sigh and the white spray of water - apparently you can learn to tell the Whale species by the 'blow'.

Humpback Whales have long pectoral fins, like wings or arms, these are white on the underside so as the Whale swims the fins shine a pale turquoise colour under the water. Looking out to sea and watching for the 'blow' and then waiting to see if you'd see a fin or a tail or even a breach when a Humpback leaps right out of the water, is sheer magic. 

Of course there were lots of sea birds ... here are two Yellow Legs on a rock at Rocky Harbour.

Black Guillemots on a precarious ledge at Bonavista

and hundreds of Kittiwakes on a rocky islet off the coast near Trinity.

The bird I most wanted to see was the Puffin. I've never been lucky to see one in the UK and in Newfoundland there are a few spots that are easily accessible and near huge Puffin colonies - they like grassy cliff tops where they can live in burrows.

There were thousands of Puffins! Swarms of them filling the sky around the rocky islands off-shore, hundreds bobbing along in the waves below.

And Puffins are surprisingly small, a bit bigger than a Blackbird but not much, look how that Gull is massive in comparison. That Gull is after the Puffin eggs and young chicks! Luckily the young Puffins were mostly full grown and able to fly.

On the day we were there, a professional wildlife photographer had set up a toy Puffin decoy on the rocks to tempt a brave Puffin to land close to her cameras. When the tourist and bird-watchers aren't about, apparently the little Puffins land on the main cliff top as well as the off-shore rocky islands ... one brave little chap was curious and landed not far from where we were sitting, so we got close up view.

On a cold winter evening it's lovely to remember how beautiful Newfoundland was in summer. Where do the Puffins go in winter?