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09 August 2010 @ 06:41 pm
Nova Scotia, Day 1 - Harbourville  

With the first day of August came my first day of vacation. As Saturday was extremely hectic, I wasn't able to get out birding; and on Sunday my fiancé and I flew to Halifax, Nova Scotia. We rented a car and drove northwest to Harbourville, a tiny fishing village north of Berwick and west of Cape Split. We had rented a cottage overlooking the bay, which would be our base of operations for the week. Unlike our vacation two years ago, this trip was not primarily a birding vacation; my fiancé planned to spend most of his time visiting family and friends, though we planned to fit in some birding in our spare time. As such, it was nice to have a place on the water where at least I would be able to see some of Nova Scotia's ocean species whenever we weren't driving back and forth to the Annapolis Valley.

Common Eider

We arrived a little before check-in time and spent an hour looking around the beach, which was rocky rather than sandy.

The Bay of Fundy (looking west)

The Harbourville Breakwater (looking east)

In the mouth of the harbour, I saw a pair of Common Eiders resting on some rocks at the base of the breakwater. This is one species I had hoped to see again, and is fairly common along the north shore, especially in rocky areas.

Common Eiders

This is a view of the harbour, looking south from the beach. At low tide, the whole harbour except for a channel in the middle running down to the bay becomes dry. The tide here is quite low, and is starting to come in.

The Harbour at Low Tide

Once we received the keys to the cottage we headed up the steep hill to unpack the car and settle in. The cottage was weathered, with bright yellow trim around the windows and fake flowers in the window boxes. Inside, a tiny kitchen led to a narrow, tiny staircase which led up to two tiny bedrooms. It may have been a bit cramped for a family of four, but it was perfect for just the two of us...even if the floors did slant in different directions!

The Cottage

A small living room opened on to the back deck, and the view here was spectacular.

The View from the Cottage

The Back Deck

What particularly pleased me about the cottage was the dense vegetation beyond the deck. A profusion of shrubs and wildflowers and young trees grew all the way to the base of a steep, wooded hill on the left...perfect, I hoped, for attracting birds and butterflies. In fact, later that day I saw a Song Sparrow and a Ruby-throated Hummingbird (my first of the year, believe it or not) in the vegetation, and saw a family of Ovenbirds at the edge of the woods! Tracy, Doran's sister, later gave me a couple of feeders to put up on the back deck; the hummingbirds visited the hummingbird feeder regularly, and a Song Sparrow enjoyed the suet she provided.

The Back Deck

We went back down to the beach again for a walk along the shore; three hours after our arrival, this is what the tide looked like. The little white boat in the harbour stayed put the entire time we were there; it became a measure for us of how far in (or out) the tide was. After all, the Bay of Fundy is home to the highest tides in the world!

Harbour at High Tide

Later that afternoon we headed out again to drive into Greenwood, where my fiancé grew up. Although we spent the rest of the day visiting his sister and his mother, I did notice several Common Nighthawks hawking for insects above the quiet streets just before dusk.

The first day of our vacation was wonderfully calm and relaxing, despite all the traveling, and the gorgeous weather couldn't have been more perfect. I was looking forward to enjoying the rest of the week by the shore!