Thursday, April 28, 2011

Iceberg Season

It is probably safe to say that the 'season' has begun. Icebergs have been spotted around Newfoundland - I saw my first one a few days ago.  These massive pieces of ice are quite something to behold up close.  From shore they are certainly interesting - a brilliant white nugget against a background of deep blue sea. On the contrary, when a berg moves close to shore or if you visit one in a boat - whoa!  It's a bit shocking to see how big they are. 

Usually June and July are great months for iceberg viewing in Newfoundland - though in some years the bergs are less frequent than in others.  Some interesting news today, a huge ice island from Greenland's glacier is near Labrador and headed towards Newfoundland.  It'll be good viewing, though it is disconcerting that the world barely notices when glaciers are slipping away.

If you have an interest in the Titantic, the ship went down at about 380 miles from Newfoundland.  See a berg up close and its potential for destruction is very clear.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Amazing Twillingate hike

Two days ago I visited Twillingate, on Newfoundland's northeast coast.  It was really a stunning day, with temperatures near 10 degrees C.  April can be very wet and chilly on that coast in spring.  I walked an amazing trail for just over two hours.  With beaming sun, great temperature and awe-inspiring views, my work-week was far behind.  I returned with peace and joy.

If you are reading this from outside of Newfoundland, I'll describe what awaits.  The land is all open to public travel and one is free to wander most anywhere. The trail is good. Other hikers are rare, so you'd have the landscape to yourself. I saw nobody on my hike.  The cliffs and sea are breathtaking, with continous pounding surf.  In summer blue berries, crow berries, bake apples (cloud berries), raspberries and partridge berries are abundant and you are free to pick as many as you'd like. Twillingate is a large island joined by a causeway. There are no dangerous mammals, no snakes, nor any dangerous insects there.  Icebergs are common is summer and one can occasionally see a whale from this trail.

If you visit ask the locals for the trail which leads from Spiller's Cove to French Beach; you won't be disappointed. Prepare for some wet places on the trail. The pic below comes from mid-way on the trail, near a place called Spiller's Rock.  It shows the very cool hole in the cliff.  The video below was taken Saturday at Spiller's Cove - a lovely place to sit, rest and marvel.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Humpback Whale and Dolphins in Newfoundland

I had planned on showing a video of Humpback whales from the surface. The coastline of Newfoundland is so rugged and beautiful. Then I stumbled on this video and was blown away. It's amazing underwater footage of dolphins and a Humpback whale.

If visiting Newfoundland in summer take a whale-watchin tour. It's quite safe and the whales are amazing. The great part is what will happen along the way - amazing scenery, lots of wildlife and massive icebergs.

Enjoy! T.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sea Urchin

At long last the weather in Newfoundland is allowing more varied pursuits. Spring is slow to emerge here so on days like today, with brilliant sunshine, one is reminded of the many cool places to visit. I am never disappointed with the beach. Just sitting there is awesome and Newfoundland has miles of secluded coastline.  It is especially cool to visit a beach with kids because there will always be something new and exciting.

Check out most any tidal pool and a sea urchin or two will be waiting.  They are common throughout the world. These spiny green beasts look really dangerous - with 2-3 cm spikes. If you step on one with your bare feet you'll be in pain and will never forget it.  Be care if swimming/walking in the ocean because beds of them are often sitting just out of view. Fortunately, they are fine to touch and can be picked up by children. The spikes are very pointy but when handled gently its not much different than holding a bunch of sharp pencils against your hand.  Every year I pick one up because it's wild to handle something so fierce looking.

On most beaches you'll find empty sea urchins with their insides eaten by gulls. Usually bleached pale green by the sun, a hole in the bottom and without spikes, they make a cool summertime collector's item. 


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Blue Flag Iris

The Iris, more specifically the Blue Flag Iris, is one of my favourite plants.  It is native to eastern Canada and grows throughout the world. The name comes from the Greek word for rainbow; the plant has a variety of colours, depending on where you live. Maybe it's the brilliant purple or the fact that it's not Newfoundland it's a plant found occasionally in wet grassy places. The shape of the Iris ensures that a pollinating insect will move pollin perfectly from one flower to the next based on perfectly designed landing surfaces.

The jury is out with respect to it being poisonous to humans.  Some say yes, some say no.  Play it safe and don't ingest, or let your pets do so. When you hike the coastline of Newfoundland in summer have a look-out for the Iris.  You'll be staring at the same plant that Van Gogh did at a difficult time in his life.  His painting, The Iris, now sits at the National Art Gallery in Ottawa - I've been told that it's valued at 75 million.

Here's Van Gogh's The Iris.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Once, Sail Away To The Sea.wmv

Hi folks, There's little I need to say to this one. The video below features Sail Away To The Sea by The Once, one of my favourite Newfoundland bands. Enjoy the several still images of this cool province and turn up your speakers - the song is awesome! T.