Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Look Mom, PUFFINS!

With the weather having turned to freezing RDF, we sat at Wally World and curbed our Newfoundland enthusiasm for as long as we could without going completely crazy.  Soooooo glad that we are not on a specific time schedule.

Four days later, we looked at the weather and there was to be a break in the nasty.  It was going to be a cloudy but rain free day!  This was predicted to be followed by another several days of RDF.   So, we made a beeline for Elliston and the PUFFINS!

By the way.... there will be A LOT of photos in this post.  A LOT.  We're NOT kidding. A LOT OF PHOTOS!

Upon entering the town we caught sight of our first Root Cellar.  Elliston is known for the large number of Root Cellars that still exist in the area.

A well-maintained root cellar kept a crop of summer root
vegetables from freezing or rotting over the winter. 

                        This cutie was guarding the cellar while grazing.


We saw a few other cellars during our time in town.

                              The oldest surviving cellars date back to 1839.

Of course two other things we saw as we entered the town were a good sized iceberg floating just outside of the bay and a bergy bit floating inside close to the shore.

We parked here to walk to the Puffin Viewing site.  Can't beat a classic Newfoundland house with five HUGE icebergs in the background!

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       Don't overlook the awesomeness of an old door.

It is a short walk to the edge of the cliff that puts you within seed spittin' distance from a Puffin Colony.  The walk, however, is not without its distractions.

                                                Flirty Savannah Sparrows

                           Views that could hold your attention for years.

                     And, this time of year, just about every view includes Icebergs!



Most people that came when we did (and even several that arrived after that) sped right past us with Puffins in mind.  As usual, we were distracted for a good while by all that was 'the approach'.

     Oh, and in case you didn't notice... the predicted gray skies parted to beautiful blue!


None the less, cresting the hill and catching sight of Puffin Island and the awesome berg that happened to be hanging out just behind it was equally as captivating.

                                                  Puffin Island

As if it needed help with the backdrop... Puffin sitting on island with beautiful berg behind.


Okay... prepare yourself for incredible cuteness.  We spent several hours sitting in the freezing temperatures watching these adorable creatures.

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Nicole couldn't get over how small the Puffins were.  She had pictured them a bit larger.

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                                      Heading out to pick up dinner.

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                                Which side is my best side?  This one?

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                                                     This one?

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             Or perhaps you prefer I just look straight down my beak at you?

At some point, one of us asked, "Where are the puffins when they aren't in Newfoundland?"

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Well, the answer is... Puffins are specially adapted to living on the open sea.  Waterproof feathers allow them stay warm as they float at the ocean’s surface or swim underwater. Diving as deep as 60 m (200 ft.), they swim by flapping their wings as if flying through the water and use their feet to steer. There, they hunt herring, hake, capelin, and sand eels. They supplement their meals by drinking saltwater.

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Nicole thought these funny little birds looked like a cross
between a Toucan and a Penguin.

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Atlantic puffins have the ability to carry several fish in their beaks at one time. They push the fish to the back of their mouth with their tongue, where ridges at the top of their bill secure the fish in place. This allows puffins to keep their mouth open to catch more fish without losing any in the process. In general, they can hold around 10 fish in their beak at once.

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                             Puffins nest in burrows and lay only one egg.

     "Shhhhh...  Here he comes.  We don't want him to hear us talking about him."

Their main predator is the great black-backed gull which explains the presence of these two on a neighboring rock.

Herring gulls (like the two in this photo and the many who have set up nests right beside the Puffins) are also a threat because they steal puffins’ fish and they pull puffin chicks or eggs from their nests.

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Nicole would like to give props to Darlene for capturing some pretty awesome shots of the Puffins with one of our point n shoot cameras.

She did a fantastic job using her personally developed technique that consists of the following (and we quote) "I really can't see anything I am shooting.  I just point, click and hope I get something."


As the hours passed we noticed the puffins seemed to be disappearing.  Until we realized they nested in burrows, we had no idea where they had all gone.

                                                        Heading home...

          Best guess so far is this is in the mustard family but still confirming...

                                                      Random Rock Art

When it was time to go, we said "Goodbye" to the Puffin King.

                                 Gazed a few more times out to sea...

   And took photos of whatever else we could before our frozen fingers snapped off.

    Couldn't decide which one of these we liked best so

                         we'll post them both.

So excited to have had the opportunity to spend time observing these little birds.  Now we're off in search of whales and whatever else wants to present itself to us while we are on this beautiful province. 

Who knows what we'll see or when we'll see it...


Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Scenic Interlude...

Our time down on the shore was HOT.  We were completely shocked at the temperatures - but also seriously pleased.  Although this past week has taught us that we might want to outwardly voice our pleasures more than our displeasures.  It seems that the Universe heard the little bit of whining we did about the heat that day we took the unexpectedly long hike to the iceberg crash.

The response has been a pretty solid week of RDF (Rain, Drizzle, Fog) and some unbelievably cold days hovering in the near or definitely freezing range.

In that time we've had a few days where we just drove and looked around, attempted to work on our cold weather endurance by getting out for as long as we can tolerate or spent some time at the World of Wally relaxing and catching up with the 'real world'. 

In the interest of catching up, here are some scenic shots and short tales we'd like to share.

    You did not seriously think you had seen the last of the iceberg shots, did you?!

Loved these 'twins' we spotted one day.  These people must really dislike their view!


                         Enjoyed seeing the icebergs just on the horizon in this one.

                      This sort of reminded us of a Slab City art installation.

Story interlude...

Although we haven't had any long encounters with really strongly accented Newfies, we have had a few short ones and some fun with translations.  In the first few days we would just look at each other and comment that we were grasping about every fourth word or so and drew our conclusions from context.  As time went on, we have each done well and seem to trade off days of understanding what is being said to us.

On one such day we pulled into a gas station and the guy came out waving his hands at us and mouthing that he had no gas.  We started to back up but he came up to talk to us.  He confirmed that we had correctly read his lips and he did indeed have no gas but that the supplier was on route.  He then started talking in a heavy accent and spoke something that caused Nicole to glaze over and Darlene to crack up. 

Typically, Nicole is the one to understand and translate for Darlene.  So, since Darlene was laughing, Nicole wasn't quite sure what to think. 

As we drove off, Nicole asked Darlene what they guy was saying about "bears" and what they had to do with "gas".  Darlene laughed and informed her that what he had actually said was, "It's embarrassing, right?  (referring to his gas station not having any gas) It's like being a Pub without a Beer."


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  How cute is it that they put galoshes on him?  So, cute!

So, we've told you that we sometimes have trouble picking up on the strong accent and local language.  What we didn't expect is what happened when an older gentleman on an ATV stopped us to chat.  We had driven down to a particular area where we heard there were good shorebird sightings.  When Nicole told him that we were looking for shorebirds his response was, "Oh, you should have been here last month.  You're a bit late.  They've all started to melt."  We never expected that we'd be misunderstood but I guess it does go both ways.

Since this encounter, we can honestly say that this mix-up is now a regular part of our conversations.  Nicole will say "There's a black bird."  Darlene will respond "That's impossible.  There aren't black ones.  I thought they were all white."  Darlene will say "Look at that berg floating there just past the boat."  Nicole will say "I have no idea what you are talking about there are no birds there at all." 

No, we aren't mocking our conversation with this guy.  It is really something that happens regularly now.  For some reason, we do not correctly hear the two words anymore.   Too funny.

                                   Loved the little 'houses' on this house.




More to come as we get caught up and behind all at the same time...