Early Summer on Prince Edward Island

We live in southern Ontario, but we also have a summer place in Prince Edward Island. Laura and I spent a couple of vacations getting to know the island, we fell in love with it, and we ultimately bought a house there – our own little slice of waterfront heaven. Our place sits on the mouth of a creek, and this tidal estuary makes it a very special spot for bird watching.

Great blue heron.

On past trips we’ve seen all sorts of birds there, so when we went down a few weeks ago I made a point of packing the camera and a moderately powerful lens. Watching birds is fun, but I’ve recently discovered the joy – and challenge – of trying to properly photograph the little beasts.

Like much of eastern Canada, PEI has been enduring a cool, wet spring with near-record rainfall. Water levels everywhere are quite high, and it continued raining off and on during our recent visit, limiting the amount of time I was willing to bring the camera outside. When it wasn’t raining the wind was brisk enough to make photographing the goldfinches, warblers, chickadees and even blue jays a real challenge. That said, there were some wonderful moments.

One of two mature bald eagles hanging out at our place on PEI.

The biggest delight – in more ways than one – was the re-appearance of our nesting bald eagles. Two adults and one juvenile spent the week entertaining us with their aerobatics and haunting cries – punctuated now and then by the furious peeping of various grackles and starlings that took turns dive-bombing them at every opportunity.

Immature bald eagle enjoying its breakfast in a tree top.

One morning the juvenile eagle landed in a tree at the end of our lawn with a foot-long brook trout firmly clutched in its talons. A rough morning for the brook trout, but an excellent start to the eagle’s day indeed.

Off it goes to catch another fish.

With the rain an endless parade of grackles, starlings, robins and crows kept our lawn under continuous surveillance, finding all sorts of grubs, worms and other bugs to eat. The Blue Jay is the provincial bird of PEI, but I really think the crow might be the better choice. They’re literally everywhere on the island, and their incessant cawing is just part of the island experience.

Robins doing their part to keep the bugs in check.

Crows are everywhere on PEI. They should be the provincial bird!

Our creek mouth is also a choice hunting ground for a couple of ospreys. There are several places across the island where people have erected nesting platforms for them  – think a shipping pallet mounted to the top of a telephone pole –  and this design seems to work quite well. The local nest, furnished with all manner of sticks, bits of rope and even part of a torn fishing net, was once again being put to good use, with at least two chicks popping up every time mom or dad appeared wit a fish.

Ospreys patrol most of the creeks and shorelines across PEI.

One of many osprey nests. The pair using it have at least two chicks this year.

While we did see our resident kingfisher almost every day, the number of great blue herons seem to be down this year. Normally any patch of water on PEI larger than a puddle has a heron standing in it, but we saw few of them this year. I really don’t know why. I can only assume the high water has made for better fishing somewhere else.

One of the herons we did see.

Wild flowers were also in full bloom while we were there. I have no idea what any of them are, I just thought they were interesting – and far easier to photograph than the tree swallows, American kestrels, American goldfinches and Canada warblers that either made strafing runs on us as we sat on the deck, or flitted through the trees too quickly to catch with the camera.

Cooperative flower. Daisy?

Buttercup?

No idea what these are.

I think these are some sort of weed. Pretty though.

 

Fortunately, the local fox family was far more cooperative, with Big Mama coming out to lounge in the afternoon sun every other day.

Big Mama being lazy … she’s really good at it.

Lazy, lazy girl!

Every trip to PEI is a treat. Like everything else on the island, the birds never cease to delight.

Double-crested cormorant trying to steal seafood. Who doesn’t like seafood?

About Craig Ritchie

Craig Ritchie was born in Toronto and has always held a deep fascination with nature and wildlife. After an initial attempt at putting a bird feeder in the yard led to confrontations with gangs of house sparrows and mischievous raccoons, he set out to learn more about birds and birding, sharing those discoveries on his blog. Craig currently divides his time between southern Ontario and Prince Edward Island.

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3 Responses to Early Summer on Prince Edward Island

  1. Rosie LaLonde says:

    I enjoyed all of your pictures. We visited PEI last year and although it poured most of the time, we could see that it is a lovely place. What a stormy ferry ride we had!
    The white flower(with many little blooms) right above the red one is yarrow.

  2. Wanda Todoroff says:

    Lovely article! I was fortunate enough to spend a week on Prince Edward Island several years back. What a beautiful area!

  3. Tammie Hache says:

    Momma Fox isn’t lazy, she’s probably taking a much deserved breather from raising her family! 😉
    Excellent photos!
    Tammie