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Grand Manan/Fundy 2017 – #5: Burrowing Owl, Nelson’s Sparrow, a Forest, Indian Pipes & Misty Cliffs

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Grand Manan/Fundy 2017 – #5: Burrowing Owl, Nelson’s Sparrow, a Forest, Indian Pipes & Misty Cliffs

This is the penultimate chapter in the account of island life. There will be a later addendum account of some interesting plants recorded, but for the birders and whalers we finish tomorrow with PUFFINS.

Wednesday was a fascinating mix of good things, so there is a quite an eclectic mix here for you to enjoy. Stating with a visit to a saltmarsh reserve (Castalia Marsh) on the eastern shore of the island where a Burrowing Owl had been reported a few days before. This bird should have been no closer than the prairie provinces, or perhaps Florida, but he was dangled before us  as a tasty treat by the internet and, of course, we had no option but to check him out. You never have high hopes on these occasions while you prepare to be disappointed, but he was very accommodating. Between the car park and foreshore there is a low dry stone wall and he was happily hanging out amongst the rocks and posing nicely for us. A Burrowing Owl had been seen a few weeks earlier in Nova Scotia and the assumption from some NS birders I am in touch with was that this was likely the same bird they had enjoyed.

After that excitement,  we wandered around enjoying the place under hot sunshine.Ticked off some shorebirds and a Savannah Sparrow and then (oh frabjous joy) up popped a Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow to tantalise us as it popped in and out of a reed bed. Just about within photographing distance.

Castalia Marsh Checklist:
Canada Goose, Common Eider, Semipalmated Plover, Least Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Herring Gull, Burrowing Owl, Nelson’s Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, American Black Duck, Common Raven.

Castalia Marsh – the Burrowing Owl was in the stone wall between grass and foreshore


Anchorage Provincial Park was our next port of call … a very pleasant walk along a shoreline forest trail, starting with a bank of thistles covered in butterflies. At the end of the thistles was a thicket that had a Lincoln’s Sparrow in it – identified by call and then a brief viewing opportunity. The park has a very pleasant forest trail with the sea to one side. Many interesting plants, a variety of butterflies and a young Swainson’s Thrush. Of especial interest was the large number of Indian Pipes growing in the forest – they aren’t common and usually only the odd one is seen yet here there were multiple clumps in different stages of growth.

At the end of the trail it was possible to get down to the beach and anjoy the breeze and waves before lunching.

Anchorage Park Checklist:
Common Loon, Double-crested Cormorant, Bald Eagle, Herring Gull, Alder Flycatcher, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Swainson’s Thrush, American Redstart, Song Sparrow, Lincoln’s Sparrow


The afternoon rounded off with a second boat outing. This was intended to be a cruise amongst the small islands off the coast but a thick sea mist came upon us and we modified the route so as to visit the basalt cliffs and small bays around the southern headland of the main island. This offered some excellent photographic opportunities of misty cliffs and breaking waves, Bald Eagles and a soaring Osprey and the opportunity to be regaled by the crew with the tale of the German spies during the war who rented a cottage on the headland from which they would send coded messages to submarines. We learned that they presented themselves as a group of lady artists/writers but when their cover was blown it was apparent that they were men in drag. I tried to find out more about this tale with the help of Dr. Google but have so far failed … makes me wonder if there might not be a bit of fantasy in the tale as “remembered” today? Nice story though.

Boat trip checklist:
Common Eider, Surf Scoter, Common Loon, Northern Gannet, Double-crested Cormorant, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Razorbill, Black Guillemot, Herring Gull

Surf Scoter

Old herring smokeries near Seal Cove Harbour


Tomorrow is the last day – with PUFFINS and a couple of FREE print quality photographs for anyone who has lasted the course of these accounts.

Featured Image
(Click to enlarge)

Salmon Cove harbour

Common Loon

Distant Bald Eagle

Misty Cliffs

Indian Pipes

Swainson’s Thrush

Checkerspot butterfly (??spp) on Joe Pye Weed

Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow


  • More photographs in the gallery at the foot of this post – click any thumbnail to see photos at full size
By | 2017-08-17T14:25:55+00:00 August 17th, 2017|birds, butterflies, flowers, landscape|1 Comment

One Comment

  1. G McDougall 2017-08-17 at 17:16 - Reply

    Wonderful pics and account. Enjoyed seeing the Burrowing Owl photos; still searching for one of my own.

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