Thursday, March 14, 2013

Breaking Winter's Hold

Spring is gradually making its presence known on the Eastern Hyper-oceanic Barrens, as the snow begins to melt and the warmth of the sun reaches the earth beneath. What was once an unbroken expanse of white has become a mottled, patchy landscape where the deepest drifts remain but bare ground is showing through. Bird Rock is the spot where thousands of northern gannets (Morus bassanus) will soon be arriving to begin their nesting ritual; today it's completely bare, swept clean of nesting materials by winter's storms and gales. Ironically, it won't
be long before it's once again covered in white; this time, though, it will be the snowy white plumage of the gannets that provides the coverage. The gannets begin to arrive in mid-March, older birds returning to the nesting sites they've used in the past. The other birds that nest here will arrive soon as well; in fact, the first of the kittiwakes have already returned but are not nesting on the sheltered rocky ledges they prefer. The murres will soon be back, gathering on even narrower edges where they'll lay their conical eggs directly on the rock without benefit of a nest, and the razorbills will be seeking rocky niches for their eggs as well.
Today the Cape is silent apart from the sound of the breeze whispering through the low-growing grasses. Soon, though, the air will be filled with the cries of thousands of seabirds as they wheel above or plummet into the sea to feed in an electrifying display. The caplin will be coming into the beaches to spawn, and the whales will follow them close inshore as the summer progresses. The rich life-cycle of the Cape is at a low ebb now, but the tide is turning fast.


  1. Fabulously well written! Good job Jean!

    1. Thanks, Annie -- I love the place and I guess it shows!