I returned from a splendid three week trip to a place that is affectionately referred to as “The Rock” in August 2011. After a few weeks driving around the beautiful province of Newfoundland I can see why as the rocky geology and rugged coastlines aptly earn their nickname. The landscape also creates perfect habitat for a number of nesting seabirds and these were what drew me all the way to the East Coast of Canada.
My trip started off in the capital city of Saint John’s where I picked up my rental car and set off (knowing that I would have more time to linger later in the trip). My first destination was just a few hours north of the city near the town of Bonavista. I spent several days in this area working on the plentiful nesting Puffins, Black Guillemots, Greater Black-backed Gulls and Razorbills. Simply exploring the coastline in this are turned up a few great photo opportunities for these fantastic Alcids!
My next destination was a bit more of a mission to get to. I had to drive all the way across the province to Gros Morne National Park. In addition to my target birds in the area I had heard that it was a must visit place for any hiking enthusiast. After spending a day or two working on songbirds like Blue-headed Vireo’s and Yellow-bellied Flycatchers I decided it was time to trek up to the top of Gros Morne Mountain and search for the Rock Ptarmigan. The climb definitely got my heart rate up and was a pretty good physical challenge. Upon arriving at the top though there was no question that the effort was indeed worthwhile. Not only was the view spectacular, but I also spotted a few Caribou as well as my much sought after Rock Ptarmigan (with some searching).
From Gros Morne I travelled south along the coast to an area that I had heard of for both Piping Plovers and Black-headed Gulls (the latter has a very limited range in North America).
I continued along the coastline to the famous Cape Saint Mary’s Ecological Reserve to see the numerous seabirds that nest here. It is hard to describe a place as amazing as Cape Saint Mary’s. Words somehow can not capture the sights, sounds and indeed the smell of 70,000 seabirds. What I will say is that if you are ever in Newfoundland this site is an absolute MUST!
From Cape Saint Mary’s I continued my coastal explorations all the way back to the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve. I spent a day out kayaking with Puffins, Murres, Razorbills and Kittiwakes before finally travelling back to Saint John’sfor a few days of taking in the culture of Newfoundland. All in all it was a great trip!
This article and all photographs are copyright Glenn Bartley, who runs
Photography Workshops in Exotic Destinations.