Brier Island - Peter Brannon

This past weekend brought an unexpected and spontaneous journey to Brier Island, Nova Scotia. It was a short and sweet last minute adventure to go on a pelagic boat trip with some of my fellow birders from Nova Scotia.

I left my home in Waverley on Friday morning and enjoyed the drive through the Valley. I stopped at Belleisle Marsh near Bridgetown. This was a brilliant birding spot that could easily occupy an entire weekend to really do the area right. My one trip around yielded a large diversity of birds, and some nice photography opportunities. Birds of interest included Northern Shovelers, Wood Ducks, Soras, Kingfishers, Bobolinks, Willow Flycatcher (and many Alders). Bobolink Nova Scotia Bellisle Marsh A bobolink rests on a pleasing perch at Bellisle Marsh, Nova Scotia

After Bellisle, I continued on my way through Digby and onto Digby Neck toward Brier Island. A beautiful drive with many sights and vistas. Passing through Sandy Cove was particularly magnificent. Always keeping my peripheral vision on birding patrol, I spotted this large Turkey Vulture take off out of a ditch on the side or the road.

After the two fun and efficient ferry trips at the end of Digby Neck, my little car and I found ourselves on Brier Island. It was a getting later in the day, so after I found my lodgings at Brier Island Lodge I took a trip down to the end of Gull Rock Rd to visit the beach and the Pond. It was fairly quiet, and still a bit early for many of the migrating shorebirds. There were groups of lesser and greater yellowlegs, semipalmated sandpipers and short-billed dowitchers around the pond.

After that, I went up to the northern side of the Island to hike around Seal Cove. There is a good reason why it is called Seal Cove. Seal Cove Brier Island Grey Seals at Brier Island's Seal Cove The sun was beginning to set after the hike around Seal Cove, so I made my way back to my lodgings for the night. The Brier Island Lodge was a great stay. It was clean, friendly and affordable. I was also pleasantly surprised to find there was internet access in the room. Limited and a bit spotty, but it was there. The food was also terrific. The next morning we all met up for the whale and seabird cruise. Thankfully the weather cooperated!

The lifers came fast and furious for me, and it was wonderful to be able to do this adventure with so many experienced and talented birders who could help me out. The bird highlights were: Northern Gannet, Great Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, Wilson's Storm Petrel, Atlantic Puffin, Red Phalarope (thousands of them!), Red-necked Phalarope, and Northern Fulmar. Northern Gannet Nova Scotia Northern Gannet in a rare flyover for the day Great Shearwater Nova Scotia Great Shearwater races along the side of the boat Northern Fulmar Brier Island Nova Scotia Northern Fulmar (my personal favorite of the day).

We saw a minke whale and a fin whale on our journey as well, but the humpbacks were nowhere to be found. A remarkable experience made more enjoyable by the fantastic folks who came along on the journey. Meeting new friends while you add to your life list is as good as it gets.

Photography Links:

For some world class bird photography, check out Alix and Ronnie's Flickr pages:

Alix d'Entremont's Flickr Gallery

Ronnie d'Entremont's Flickr Gallery


Brier Island Links:

Brier Island Lodge's website

Mariner Whale Watching and Sea Bird Cuises

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