Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Bird Islands of Cape Breton - Nova Scotia

On a Princess Cruise from Boston to Montreal in August 2018, we had a stop in Sydney, Nova Scotia, and I took a ship tour titled "Bird Islands of Cape Breton." The Bird Islands are an IBA or Important Bird Area. There are two islands, both located off the northeastern end of Cape Breton Island about 2.5 miles.  The first island, Hertford Island, closest to shore, is .7 miles long and 131 yards wide. Northeast of Hertford is Ciboux Island, 1 mile long and 131 yards wide. Each have cliffs up to 65 feet high with holes and ledges for birds. There are an average of 565 nesting pairs of great cormorants, the largest colony in North America (about 9% of the North American population along the Atlantic Coast). There are also an average of 960 nesting pairs of black-legged kittiwakes, 150 pairs of razorbill, 75 pairs of Atlantic puffin, 200 pairs of double-crested cormorants, 300 pairs of black guillemots and some Leachs storm-petrels. 

From Sydney, we took a bus for 1 1/4 hours to Big Bras d'Or, which is on Bras d'Or Lake, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, then took a boat ride 40 minutes each way into the Atlantic Ocean with Bird Island Boat Tours to reach the islands. That gave us about 80 minutes to circle the islands and look for birds and seals. It was an amazing excursion, well worth the side trip. See here for a map showing the location of the Bird Islands. 
Following are photos from my excurson:
Our boat out to the bird islands. 

The bird islands.

The boat captain acknowledged that most people were there to see Atlantic puffins. Most were on the water and they were difficult to get close to. 

I wanted to see puffins, but I also wanted to see gray seals, a seal I'd never seen before. We got some great looks. 

The great cormorant was not on my radar when I arrived, but I appreciated seeing them after learning more about them. 

The great cormorant on the upper right is with double-crested cormorants. 

Great blue herons. 

Great black-backed gulls. 

Ruddy turnstones.

Double-crested cormorants.

However, my favorite sightings were the bald eagles. There were lots of them and we got some great looks. 

Two eagles doing battle. 

It was an amazing tour that I would love to do again. 

No comments:

Post a Comment