Nova Scotia, Summer 2018

Nova Scotia, Summer 2018

Karen and I had the good fortune to travel around Nova Scotia for a week in late July. Coming from the Eastern Sierra, the most dramatic difference was the green, lush vegetation everywhere. It rained the night we touched down in Halifax, and it rained all day as we returned westward to Halifax from Cape Breton Island on our final day there. Judging from the verdant growth all around, the rain was not a surprise, and it was refreshing to be in a new climate at the eastern edge of North America.

Midsummer in the hardwood forest of Cape Split Provincial Park, Nova Scotia, CAN

Midsummer in the hardwood forest of Cape Split Provincial Park, Nova Scotia, CAN

First destination was the Bay of Fundy, a vast body of water that ebbs and flows up to 50 feet between high and low tides. The extreme tides for which the area is famous are due to the the relatively shallow waters of the Bay being situated between the steep drop of the continental shelf to the southeast, and the land to the north. The typical 6 foot tides of the open Atlantic become amplified within the Bay of Fundy. The Bay is also famous for its whales, and we were able to observe a group of 3 adult and 1 frolicking juvenile humpback whale one foggy morning off the tip of the “Digby Neck,” along the northwest edge of Nova Scotia.

Humpback whale, north of Brier Island, western edge of Nova Scotia in Bay of Fundy, CAN

Humpback whale, north of Brier Island, western edge of Nova Scotia in Bay of Fundy, CAN

From the Digby area at the western edge of Nova Scotia we spent a few days driving eastward to Ingonish Beach on Cape Breton Island, where we stayed just outside Cape Breton Highlands National Park (CBHNP).

Rock outcrop at Ingonish Beach, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, CAN

Forested rock outcrop at Ingonish Beach, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, CAN

Northeast coast of Cape Breton with pink granite along the shore, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, CAN

Northeast coast of Cape Breton with pink granite along the shore, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, CAN

Donelda’s Puffin Tours was also on the agenda, so we spent a few hours cruising around the small Bird Islands in St. Ann’s Bay, where Atlantic puffins, razorbills, black-legged kittiwakes, great cormorants, and other seabirds come to nest, while gray seals lounge on the rocks below. We were certainly not going to spend the time and money traveling to Nova Scotia without seeing the charismatic puffin standing outside their nest burrows or bobbing on the water in small groups! These monogamous birds spend most of their time alone at sea, traveling thousands of miles in search of food before returning to places like Maine, Iceland, and the Bird Islands to reunite and breed.

Atlantic puffins near their burrow nesting sites, Bird Islands, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, CAN

Atlantic puffins near their burrow nesting sites, Bird Islands, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, CAN


Razorbill adults on lichen-covered rocks, Bird Islands, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, CAN

Razorbill adults on lichen-covered rocks, Bird Islands, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, CAN

We were also anxious to see as much of the Highlands as possible, and one hike we decided on was to Mica Hill, an 8 km trail through boreal forest and dense taiga vegetation with pink-flowering Kalmia shrubs, bogs with pitcher plants, and stunted larch and black spruce. This half-day outing was delightfully tourist-free, and we were fortunate to see a moose sauntering over the trail on our way back to the trailhead.

View of taiga and Aspy Bay from Mica Hill, NE edge of Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, CAN

View of taiga and Aspy Bay from Mica Hill, NE edge of Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, CAN


A very large moose on the trail to Mica Hill, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, CAN

A very large moose near the trail to Mica Hill, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, CAN

Round-leaved sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) growing in a sphagnum bog along the Bog Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, CAN

Round-leaved sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) growing in a sphagnum bog along the Bog Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, CAN

Another park attraction near Ingonish Beach we enjoyed and returned to for its beauty, great forest habitat full of birds, calling loons, and a good running trail was Warren Lake. Biologists with the CBHNP were conducting a bio-blitz here on out last morning, so we contributed a short bird list before making the long drive back towards Halifax to catch a 6 am flight to LAX. Thank you, Nova Scotia!

Warren Lake, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, CAN

Warren Lake, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, CAN


Jack pines (Pinus banksiana) line the trail around Warren Lake, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, CAN

Jack pines (Pinus banksiana) line the trail around Warren Lake, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, CAN

2018-10-02T07:51:03+00:00September 18th, 2018|

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2 Comments

  1. cathy Rose September 20, 2018 at 9:26 pm - Reply

    Dear Stephen,
    You certainly picked a place completely different from your Eastern Sierra home. All that greenery! All that water! The paths through the lush, verdant woods
    are beautiful, and I envy you the sight of birds such as puffins and razorbills and seeing all those water-oriented plants, such as sun dew and
    mosses. I’m glad it didn’t rain ALL the time. Thank you for sharing your photographs from a special world that I hadn’t experienced until now. Cathy

    • Artist October 1, 2018 at 9:54 am - Reply

      Thanks, Cathy! It is nice to see your comments on my website. Sorry it has taken so long to respond. I just noticed your comment now. I hope all is well in Santa Barbara. Stephen

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