Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Iceberg and Puffin Trip from Bays Bull to Ferryland

My Somewhere New Quest started a few years ago, probably as I approached my 60th birthday, I told my husband I would revisit places but they had to include a visit to somewhere new.  To celebrate Canada's 150th birthday I had to put Newfoundland on the list and go and visit my first iceberg.  This province is amazing and far exceeded all of my hopes.

This blog has a lot of pictures and I probably only put in 1/3 of the ones I took.  We set off up to Bay Bull (yes that is correct, not Bull Bay, for some reason they are called Bay ...) for our 2 hour boat cruise up to see the 1/2 million puffins that live in the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve.  We chose O'Brien's Tours and would definitely recommend them.  The staff were very cheery and Con (Cornelius) was excellent at helping us spot different birds, his knowledge of the icebergs and his great singing voice made for a great trip.  

While waiting for the tour to start, we had a wee walk around the harbour and spotted this crazy shaped boat, it is 70 meters wide and 100 meters long.  It is only a year old and used for seismic readings of the Grand Banks.

Our first iceberg was waiting in the bay for us.  That little iceberg was a ton bigger when it first arrived, and it is grounded in water that is 65 feet deep, so imagine how much of the iceberg is below the water.  


The harbour is very calm but as we approach the Atlantic the rollers pick up.  Dressed in our winter gear with the sun shining on us we are able to enjoy the whole trip from the top of the boat.  
 The cliffs are amazing down this coast.
Doesn't take long for us to arrive at the first island which is home to Puffin, Common Mure, Black-legged Kittiwake and Razor-bill Auk.  Puffins are around 11 inches high and weigh less than a pound.  

My favourite story on this trip was that the Puffins, after they lay their eggs, sing to their babies before they hatch so that they will always be able to find each other.

Below is a puffin egg, if our babies were in ratio to the size of these eggs, our babies would weigh 30 lbs.

This is just a small sampling of the birds on these 2 islands, there seriously wasn't a place that didn't have a bird on it.  These birds come back year after year to nest in the same spot on these rocks.

Our biggest iceberg.  The water here is 185 feet deep, and this iceberg has been stuck here for the whole season so far.  It won't move until enough of it has melted or fallen off, to lift it off the bottom of the ocean and float away.  

 A highlight of our trip which very few people get to ever experience was the iceberg calving.  I was standing at the rail, when I heard this loud cannon (not that I have ever heard a cannon) or possibly a gigantic thunder crack and a huge piece of the iceberg fell off, seconds later another piece went.

 As the large pieces of ice hit the water, it was like a mini tsunami coming towards the boat.  Quite thrilling.

Once it settled down a bit the captain took us closer so that Con could actually pick up some pieces of the iceberg to serve with his rum.  For a change we did not partake, we still had a lot of driving to do.
 Where it had cracked allowed us to see some amazing lines in the berg.  The iceberg was 12000+ years old, and left Greenland on its journey down to Newfoundland.  This year has been a bumper year of icebergs but they are quickly melting and continuing their journey until they disappear.

As we pulled into the harbour, Con sang Merry Mac to us, as the braver souls were being screeched in.

Thanks to Con and O'Brien for a great trip.

As this blog has become so big, I have put our Ferryland pics into a part 2.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Signal Hill - St John's Newfoundland

After our trip out to Cape Spear we head back to our Jelly Bean house for a quick lunch before we head off to Signal Hill.  Jim is doing an amazing jobs of navigating us around town and around the countryside.

Our first stop is at The Rooms, the tallest landmark in St. John's, is a museum and art gallery with amazing views of the city and Signal Hill.  The building itself is a beautiful piece of architecture and well worth a visit if you are in the city.  There was a great display on all the aboriginal groups who live here and the different immigrants who helped make it this beautiful part of Canada.



These squid are very hard to find, and the subject of many a horror movie.  A large number of them have been found around Newfoundland.  Won't catch me in the water here, LOL, doesn't help that it never gets above 7 degrees C.

Next stop was Signal Hill.  I am so glad we drove up, it was a long and windy road.  There are lovely hiking trails and amazing views when you get to the top.  

In 1762 the French surrendered to the British at the Battle of Signal Hill.

Above is Amherst Lighthouse where you can see the battlements surrounding it.  One very interesting fact I learned was that during the 2nd World War, the Canadian and American troops set up bases here and you can see all the cannon and battlements along the walls.  When I first read Canadian I thought what are they talking about, well guess what, Newfoundland wasn't part of Canada then, and when they finally voted to join Canada they only won by a margin of 52%, a very close vote  Lucky for us they joined.
Above is Cape Spear which we visited in the morning.  

The view of St. John's Harbour, a very busy port and the start of the narrows which the ships have to get through before reaching the open sea.  
We went for a walk along the "Ladies Lookout" trail and when we turned around, voila, another iceberg sitting in the bay beside St. John's.

Another important event that took place on top of Signal Hill was the first wireless/radio transmission.  Marconi sat on top of Signal Hill and received the morse code "S" which came across as pip pip pip from Cornwall England.  This was a major breakthrough in wireless traffic.  The first distress signal from the Titanic was heard at Cape Race on the southern tip of Newfoundland on a Marconi radio set.
Another little fishing village in a pretty little cove.  
These cannon protected the inhabitants on many an occasion.

We went down to the little village we spied from the top of Signal Hill, it was just as quaint as I thought.  There is an amazing restaurant down here called the "Mallard Cottage", featuring fine Newfoundland dining.  It had a set menu which we couldn't get in to, and they recommended reservations.

Another blustery day, so thankful we brought our winter coats and hats.  Luckily we were never uncomfortably cold, and it makes for great walking weather.