There's an old adage that states "It's not what you say, it's how you say it." In other words, the gist of the statement is important, but the phrasing is what shapes the final interpretation. When it comes to visiting some of the planet's most important natural areas, though, it's not what you see, it's definitely how you see it. There are wondrous sights to be observed, but observation must be coupled with caution and respect to avoid unnecessary stress to wild populations; this is an occasion when a
long lens is extremely useful for capturing bird or animal behavior. On a visit to the Witless Bay Ecologial Reserve, North America's largest Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica) breeding site, for example, pair behaviors like billing (the touching and rubbing of bills) bill tossing (rapid upward movements of the head showing the underside of the bill) and wing flapping displays can be seen. While it is possible to go ashore on the island, human intrusion is limited to legitimate research purposes; however, boat trips from the nearby communities of Witless Bay and Bay Bulls offer
excellent opportunities for puffin observation. The best views, though, come by way of a measured and careful approach that is quiet and unobtrusive. Boat access to the islands of the reserve is limited; tour boat operators require a permit issued by Newfoundland and Labrador's Department of Environment and Conservation, Parks and Natural Areas Division. It's a wonderful place to visit, and thanks to protection and limited access it will be here not only for us but for future generations.