Sep 122017

Most people know Prince Edward Island (PEI) for Anne of Green Gables, red soil and potatoes. I can confirm that all of these things exist on the island (especially the potatoes, they are everywhere!), but it was the Prince Edward Island birding that really excited me.

In August there are shorebirds galore, mixed warbler flocks, Bald Eagles aplenty and more Great Blue Herons that I’ve ever seen.

PEI is also a landscaper’s dream with endless deserted beaches, lighthouses and quiet maritime scenes.

Greater Yellowlegs – the name of the game in PEI is to get every species photographed on red sand!

Read on to find out my impressions of PEI and to get some ideas if you decide to visit the “garden of the gulf” yourself.

Prince Edward Island Birding: Shorebirds

Prince Edward Island birding: Semi-palmated Plover

Prince Edward Island birding: Semi-palmated Sandpiper

Prince Edward Island birding: Stilt Sandpiper

Least, Semi-palmated and Stilt Sandpipers + Sanderlings

Prince Edward Island birding: Sanderling

Least, Semi-palmated Sandpipers and Sanderlings

Shorebirds are lacking this year in Ottawa, but I certainly got my fix in PEI. At first I was worried about finding them, but I soon realized that every beach at low tide is a shorebirder’s paradise. We were staying off-the-beaten track on the west coast of PEI and it didn’t take me long to find a fantastic shorebirding beach in West Point (right across the road from The Catch restaurant).

I lay down on the red sand (everyone knows you have to lie down to get the best shorebird photos!) and was surrounded by shorebirds. After an hour of photography bliss, I shook off the sand and joined my friends for a wonderful seafood lunch. This is PEI!

Shorebirds take flight

Prince Edward Island Birding: Other Birds

Great Blue Heron

To maximize my limited time (I was travelling with non-birders), I focused on shorebirds. Of course, I couldn’t help but notice some of the other birds around me. In terms of birds of prey, I saw many Bald Eagles, Osprey, Northern Harriers and American Kestrels. Warbler migration appeared to be in full swing – I passed by one mixed flock and had 7 species without much effort.

I saw a group of Common Eiders off the beach at the accommodation where I was staying. I also noticed a lot of Common Nighthawks around. Finally, there were more Great Blue Herons on PEI than I’ve ever seen in one place before! At low tide, you could see up to 25 individuals in one mud flat.

Prince Edward Island birding: Bald Eagle

Favourite PEI Places

Cavendish Beach

I was in two minds about whether to visit the famous Cavendish beach in PEI’s National Park, but in the end I’m glad that I did. The road that leads to the beach is dotted with tacky tourist attractions, but the beach itself is beautiful. I was warned about crowds, but at 4pm at the end of August I didn’t find it crowded at all.

We walked west down the beach and came across a wonderful collection of birds where a river met the sea. Bonaparte’s Gulls, Common and Caspian Terns, Great-blue Herons galore and shorebirds! Further out to the Gulf of St. Lawrence you could see Northern Gannets torpedoing into the water. Piping Plovers nest in Prince Edward Island National park, but I didn’t see any.

Bonaparte’s Gull

Semi-palmated Sandpiper

Caspian Tern

Cavendish Beach


Caspian & Common Terns + Bonarparte’s Gulls


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Laura Birder

Hi! My name is Laura and I’m a birder and nature photographer living in Ottawa, Canada. I started this blog in September 2016 to share my passion for the natural world and to pass on my knowledge about birding and photography. I also want to inspire YOU to go on your own birding adventures, both near and far!

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