Spirit of Journey – Nature Canada

The next article was written by former Nature Canada Govt Director, Ian Davidson, current Americas Regional Director at BirdLife Worldwide.

It chronicles the ten-day journey with Journey Canada.

Dawn over lovely Baie Verte on the north coast of Newfoundland © Garry Donaldson

Characterised by rugged Precambrian Defend, the landscapes and seascapes of jap Canada are mesmerising. Untouched boreal forests and uninterrupted seashores stretch from horizon to horizon. The deep fjords alongside the Newfoundland coast remind guests of the current glaciation that not solely formed the geomorphology of the area, but in addition created Sable Island, a 40-kilometre-long nationally protected barrier mendacity 200 km off the east coast of Nova Scotia. Alongside the continental shelf that borders Canada’s total Maritime Provinces, the most important underwater canyon within the North Atlantic offers rise to an upwelling zone supporting a rare range of marine life.

The Ocean Endeavor visiting a distant coastal city © Dennis Minty

With this because the backdrop, Journey Canada, along with BirdLife Worldwide, Margaret Atwood and 175 worldwide company from around the globe, set sail on 24 June 2022 for a 10-day expedition to expertise the big great thing about the area’s wildlife and its storied cultural previous. Within the preliminary planning for the journey, BirdLife teamed up with Journey Canada to advertise the Graeme Gibson Fellowship, with the aim of growing and supporting gifted conservation leaders from throughout the BirdLife household.

The late Graeme Gibson, alongside together with his accomplice, Margaret Atwood, have been veteran expedition leaders on Journey Canada excursions, in addition to serving as honorary members of BirdLife’s Uncommon Fowl Membership. This partnership was subsequently a pure match for this endeavour.

The primary draw was the wealthy number of breeding and migratory seabird species. Atlantic PuffinThick-billed and Widespread Murres (or Guillemots), RazorbillBlack-legged KittiwakeNorthern FulmarNiceManx and Sooty ShearwatersLeach’s Storm-petrelNorthern Gannet and a South Polar Skua didn’t disappoint. However the forests have been additionally alive with birds and included a range of North America’s boreal breeding warblers – Northern Parula and BlackpollCape MightBay-breastedPalm and Black-and-white Warblers, to call just some.

Roughly 95% of North America’s Atlantic Puffins breed in Newfoundland © Garry Donaldson

It was attention-grabbing to study that almost all of those species spent the boreal winter within the Caribbean and northern South America, and that in only a month’s time they might be starting their annual migration southwards.

Hermit Thrush is a summer season customer to Canada’s Maritime Provinces © Dennis Minty

Voyage of Discovery

Our first cease on the expedition was Sable Island Nationwide Park, a fabled sand bar off the south coast of Nova Scotia that has claimed extra shipwrecks than every other island within the area. This uninhabited outpost’s declare to fame is its wild horses, some 500 of which roam freely, having been introduced there within the 1700s. For the birders on board, the prize for this leg of the journey was the endemic and threatened Ipswich Sparrow, a pale subspecies of Savannah Sparrow, which is widespread on the mainland. Nesting Ipswich Sparrows have been evident all through the windswept grassy areas of the numerous dunes scattered throughout the island.

Ipswich Sparrow, a threatened subspecies of Savannah Sparrow, is endemic to Sable Island, off the south coast of Nova Scotia © Garry Donaldson

The next day noticed Journey Canada’s Polish-built expedition ship, the Ocean Endeavour, cruising slowly by the placid water of the Gully Marine Protected Space. This web site was one of many first nationwide marine sanctuaries within the Maritimes and safeguards ocean habitat for throngs of seabirds feeding on plankton plumes.

Razorbills have been amongst a number of auk species noticed in the course of the expedition cruise © Garry Donaldson

The seven species of cetaceans seen from the ship’s bow included Endangered Northern Bottlenose Whales, and a shock within the type of two basking Ocean Sunfish (which might weigh upwards of 900 kg every). With ocean temperatures rising, sunfish and even Nice White Sharks are more and more displaying up alongside this coast. Utilizing the expedition to document wildlife, researchers tallied an astounding 1,000 seabirds over a four-hour interval inside the marine protected space.

Our voyage carried on round Cape North, stopping off at Cape Breton Highlands Nationwide Park the place transient sightings of Bicknell’s Thrush and Spruce Grouse have been reported. A Zodiac go to to the close by Fowl Islands discovered an lively breeding colony of greater than 200 Atlantic Puffins, one of many few such breeding websites on this area.

Northern Gannets breed in colonies near the wealthy waters of the Maritimes © Garry Donaldson

From the highlands, Journey Canada sailed to Les Isles de Madeleine after which on to Saint Pierre and Miquelon, an remoted piece of France that lies 20 kilometres off the south coast of Newfoundland. A marauding pod of Orcas surfaced alongside the docked ship, inflicting a stir amongst disembarking passengers ready to board Zodiacs for the shore.

Maybe one of the crucial spectacular moments of the journey was a short hike by the village of Francois, alongside the remoted Newfoundland south shore. Serviced solely by boat, this self-sufficient group is about as distant a rural village as one will see – no web, phone, roads or retailers.

Virtually one and three quarter occasions the scale of Nice Britain however with 1% of its inhabitants, Newfoundland is sort of a rustic unto itself, and Francois exemplifies the true remoteness of this area, and why the island is often known as the ‘Rock’.

Ten days and nearly 2,000 kilometres later, we ready to depart our expedition in St John’s, the provincial capital of Newfoundland. Travelling with Journey Canada was a novel expertise. The corporate’s expedition philosophy responds to alternatives arising, recognising that nature shouldn’t be a continuing. As a part of its enterprise ethos, Journey Canada makes a selected effort to have interaction native communities by its programming and outreach. This contains sponsorship of the Graeme Gibson Fellowship, which it promoted in the course of the expedition, elevating 1000’s of {dollars} for conservation management throughout the planet.

Be a part of Us in 2023!

Subsequent yr, BirdLife will be a part of Journey Canada for its third expedition, with host Margaret Atwood, to discover the wild locations between two different island giants – Greenland and Iceland. Restricted house remains to be accessible on this epic voyage to affix Margaret on the captain’s desk, together with many different BirdLife members. Discover out extra about this expedition right here.

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