Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Icebergs and Sun Pillars

On Monday evening a friend called to say that there were a couple of icebergs grounded just outside the "gut" at Quidi Vidi, a small village that's part of St. John's. Would I like to go take a look? I didn't have to be asked twice -- I love the icebergs that work their way south along the Labrador current in spring and early summer, and I wasn't about to pass up an opportunity to see and photograph one, especially in a setting as picturesque as Quidi Vidi. We drove to a point above the village, then walked to the Quidi Vidi Battery, not yet open for the season. The hill gave a commanding view of the bergs in the narrow opening to the small harbour; the two bergs were of completely different
shapes, one flat or tabular and the other pinnacled and looking a bit like a huge white walrus. There were thirty or so people gathered on the point, taking photos or just enjoying the view, but the light was fading fast. We decided to return the following morning to see the bergs in the early light. Serendipity provided the perfect weather conditions for a sun pillar as the day dawned, making for a spectacular scene that was well worth the early start. When an opportunity arose for yet another visit to the bergs that evening, of course I couldn't resist. After a walk to the end of the Barrows Road and a scramble across the rocks, another friend and I joined the watchers on the point and settled in to
enjoy the view and the changing light. We were delighted to see a couple of colourful kayaks head out for an evening paddle, past the bergs and along the coast. While they were gone, the tabular berg shifted on the tide and nearly closed off the opening to the harbour; fortunately there was enough room for them to get past, but the return trip was definitely a bit more challenging than the outbound one. Thanks to those two kayakers for adding extra interest to this beautiful evening!

There is a website that provides location data and background information on icebergs in Newfoundland and Labrador -- operates during iceberg season and gets its data from both satellite and local observer information.

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