Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sandpipers return to Bay of Fundy

Perhaps one of the lesser-known facts about the Bay of Fundy is that we are biologically linked to most of the rest of the world through migrations of fish, whale and bird species. A good example of this is the annual trek of 95% of the world's population of semi-palmated sandpipers. Hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) of these small shorebirds make an annual trip each summer from the Arctic to Fundy where they double their weight for their continued voyage across to west Africa and, ultimately, to South America.

These sandpipers feast on microscopic shrimp that live in the low tide-exposed mud flats of the upper Bay of Fundy. They visit en masse for about two weeks starting right away. The New Brunswick town of Dorchester hosts a annual shorebird festival (starts this weekend) to celebrate the arrival of these incredible birds.

Read more about Fundy's sandpipers on the Canadian Wildlife Service website.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

We know how to put the FUN in Fundy!

Big news this week around Bay of Fundy...our beautiful bay was selected as a finalist in a global campaign to declare the New7Wonders of Nature!! Those of you who've been following my blog know that we've been participating in this campaign for over a year. There were 440 nature sites originally and we just found out yesterday that 28 international sites have been shortlisted and Bay of Fundy is one of them!

Wow... this is exciting stuff! we now have the opportunity to showcase this awesome part of Canada to the rest of the world. I was digging around in my photo archive (in preparation for the media) and turned up this aerial shot of Bay of Fundy's Cape Split in Nova Scotia.

This photo sure takes me back a few decades. When I was a teenager growing up on the Bay of Fundy, I had two friends who flew airplanes so I spent a goodly bit of time flying over this very cape and other parts of Fundy in my 'spare time'. Not typical teenage hobby but one that probably sewed early seeds of interest in Bay of Fundy: certainly MY world wonder!

Thanks to my nature pal, Bob Guscott, for the pic.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Parisiennes & the Brummies to be visited by the Bay of Fundy!

One of my great joys (other than exploring the Bay of Fundy) is checking my Bay of Fundy email...no, seriously, I just never know who I'm going to hear from. Sometimes it's folks who live in other parts of our Bay, sometimes it's visitors reporting in about their Fundy holidays, and sometimes it's someone who has done something 'Fundy-themed', such as a poem, or play reading in Texas, or even a Fundy-inspired musical composition.

Such was the case a couple weeks ago when I heard from composer Bev Lewis, who has an excited Fundy-themed music project launching in Paris & Birmingham, England (hence, the Brummies)....

Hi Terri, I was born and grew up in New Brunswick, mainly around the greater Saint john area, and I studied music at Mount Allison University. I now live in Toronto and am, among other things, a music composer. I recently received a commission to compose a piece for English Horn and Piano from Western Kentucky University.

My piece will be premiered on July 22 at the International Double Reed Society Conference in Birmingham, UK, and will be performed on July 26 in Paris, France. The performers will be Michele Fiala (English horn) and Donald Speer (Piano).

The title of my piece is "Fundy Temperaments" and it is a programmatic work about the Bay of Fundy, based on my childhood experiences as well as on research I have been doing. Within the piece, there are musical effects which represent such things as rippling waves, fog horns, crashing waves, a drinking party complete with sea shanties, a sinking ship, a requiem, etc.

The piece is supposed to represent the fast-changing, unpredictable moods (weather conditions) of the Bay of Fundy.

I thought it might be of interest to some of your readers that a music conposition about the Bay of Fundy, composed by a native New Brunswicker, is going to be performed in Britain and France this coming July.

Congrats to Bev, on this, her opening week!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Rough tides & new driftwood

We Fundy folk are quite fond of wild weather...well, we do live by the world's most extreme tides so I suppose it only makes sense that we like our weather on the edgey side too.

Since so much of the ocean floor is exposed here at low tide, we're quite tuned in to how the weather and tides combine to interesting effect. Take the famous Saxby Gale, for example, still venerated in local folklore. I've also previously mentioned starfish tides and strange objects turning up in the wrack line.

One of the other things the tide churns up on a regular basis is massive amounts of driftwood... and not just small chunks either. It's quite typical to see whole trees wash up, like this one I took a photo of this morning. If you're planning a beach bonfire though, be warned, it's considered impolite in Fundy circles to actually burn these tree trunks - use them as seats instead! More beach bonfire etiquette in this previous post.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Raining wild rose petals

When Belle and I were out for our run this morning we came across a sight fit for an outdoor wedding: wild rose petals floating down off the breakwater and on to the beach.

The next tide will probably absorb them but they sure looked pretty out here in bright contrast to the grey cobble beach. If you look closely on the right you can see a teeny-tiny Belle patiently waiting (again) for me to take photos.

I love my salty dog!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

That's the way to eat lobster

There are lots of great roadside fish markets around the Bay of Fundy and, if you're lucky, you can even buy lobster fresh off the wharf. The Fundy town of Alma, New Brunswick, probably wins the prize though - they've got three really nice waterfront fish markets. No fresher way to serve the over 200,000 annual visitors to nearby Fundy National Park.

In my travels to Alma this week, I popped in to Butland's Seafood Market to grab a lobster for lunch. The one great thing about a lobster market is that your lobster is guaranteed to be cooked to perfection, and this one was! It's served on newsprint in a cardboard box with little tubs of coleslaw and potato salad on the side. I grabbed mine and ate half of it while driving (not generally recommended!) to nearby Cape Enrage Lighthouse. Yum!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Terri's top 10 reasons to vote Fundy TODAY!

This is the last day to vote in the 2nd phase of the global New7Wonders of Nature contest. Bay of Fundy is competing as Canada's top site. Click here to vote for Bay of Fundy!

Need to know what makes Bay of Fundy so awesome? Here are my top 10 fav things about our bay:

10. The Bay of Fundy boasts some of the best and freshest seafood in North America: lobster, scallops, salmon (fresh & smoked), halibut, mussels, sole, haddock, herring, mackeral, flounder, dulse (edible seaweed), etc.

9. The Bay is home to the largest whirlpool in the northern hemisphere: the Old Sow Whirlpool off Deer Island, New Brunswick.

8. The Fundy region has so many geology firsts it's almost embarrassing:

  • world's best fossil forest
  • Canada's oldest dinosaurs
  • world's most complete fossil record
  • world's smallest dinosaurs
  • evidence of the 'missing link' between the Jurassic & Triassic periods of geological history
  • best place in the world to see all three rock types from three different geological time periods: igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic
7. Fundy is the hottest site in the world for tidal power potential (outdated barrage or causeway-style technology - destructive to the environment!! - has been replaced by new, much less invasive, underwater turbines that look like modern wind mills).

6. Our Bay is the summer habitat and feeding ground for these gentle giants: 12 species of whales, including the rare and endangered North Atlantic Right whale (half the world's population of Right whales visit Fundy annually).

5. Fundy's low tide mud flats are a critical feeding ground for 95% of the world's semi-palmated Sandpipers on their annual migration from the Arctic to the west coast of Africa then South America.

4. UNESCO loves us! Upper Bay of Fundy as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and Joggins Fossil Cliffs as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

3. Bay of Fundy tides, 54 feet/15 metres are the highest on the planet. To put this in perspective: South Carolina, USA, tides are 5 feet and Vancouver, BC's tides 10 feet.

2. Fundy is one of the world's richest marine ecosystems and has been compared to the Amazon rainforest in biodiversity.

1. The people of the Fundy adore & protect their bay and love sharing its mysteries with visitors. They are also a formidable troupe who have risen to the challenge of promoting and voting for our Bay... propelling to top Canadian site in this contest. I love yez!!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Kipper pesto omelet

Bay of Fundy Kippers (smoked herring) are most often eaten as a snack or for lunch straight out of the can around these parts. In the UK, though, it's not uncommon to eat kippers for breakfast in some combination with eggs. Here's one of my favourite kipper recipes, combining eggs, kippers and pesto just to jazz things up a bit...

Kipper pesto omelet
3 eggs (or 1 egg, 2 whites)
1/4 sm eggplant
1 c sauteed mushrooms
1 to 2 Tbsp pesto
2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
1 to 2 cans of regular kippers, drained & crumbled
1 c pineapple
a few slices of cooked bacon (opt)
salt & pepper to taste

Sauteed diced eggplant and mushrooms in butter. Whisk pesto and egg together in a bowl. Add other ingredients to pan, cover with eggs. Cook flat in fry pan til almost dry. Flip into omelet shape. Cook low heat, covered.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Rare whale sighting

This time it's not the whales that made for a rare Fundy whale sighting - it was the location! On the weekend there were a dozen pilot whales in the Upper Bay of Fundy in the vicinity of Hopewell Rocks. If you'd like to check your Bay of Fundy geography, take a look at this map. (Hopewell Rocks is up near where Nova Scotia (yellow) meets New Brunswick (orange).

I can tell you that live whales very rarely come up this high in the Bay of Fundy. In fact, in the 13 years since Baymount Outdoor Adventures has been operating kayak tours at Hopewell Rocks they've never seen whales on their tours. So you can imagine the surprise of the kayakers in this video when they went for their paddle. A rare and wonderful day on the Bay of Fundy...

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Whale watch update

I've been getting quite a few emails from folks asking how the whale watch season is going so far. Here's a guest post from one of our whale watch tour companies with an update:

Hi Bay of Fundy Blog followers! I'm Danielle and I work with Quoddy Link Marine, a whale watching company out of St. Andrews, NB. Our tours take passengers out on the NW corner of the Bay of Fundy around Campobello, Deer Island, Grand Manan and the Wolves. Here's how our season is going so far... It's been a foggy start, and the fog remains but we have managed to get quite a few afternoon trips out amongst Head Harbour Passage where there are some holes in the fog (as the warm air blows over Campobello it creates some clear spots in the Passage). We are seeing minke whales on a consistent basis as well as lots of seals (both harbour and grey) and harbour porpoise.

For all you birders out there, the common birds sightings are good (bald eagles, herring and greater black back gulls, black guillemots, black-legged kittiwakes and eider ducks) but with the fog we also get some unique offshore visitors to the inshore area such as puffins, murres and shearwaters. We had a group of northern gannets the other day that we actively feeding, so diving from over 50 feet in the air, off East Quoddy Head Light. All of the bird activity is a great sign of herring (food for both the whales and birds) in the area.

Yesterday we did make a short trip down off Bliss Island to see if we could hear any fin whales, in the fog, when there is little wind, we often listen for whales, being able to hear them blow, or exhale, over a mile away. We didn't hear anything yesterday but you never know unless you "look".

Thanks for taking the time to read my guest post, if you want daily updates on our settings check out
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