The first spring visit to Cape St. Mary's always reminds me what a wonderful and varied place this is. Known primarily as a nesting site for thousands of northern gannets, it also provides a feeding ground for bald eagles and ravens, typical habitat for savannah sparrows and horned larks, and forms part of the range of the southern Avalon caribou herd.
I arrived in the early morning and started down the trail from the visitor centre; visible even from this distance, a juvenile bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was circling high above the cove, the sun highlighting its mottled colours.
Another few minutes of walking brought me to the main point near Bird Rock, the centre of the gannet (Morus bassanus) nesting area. This point overlooks the rock, and in another month it will be possible to spot the first of the year's chicks, guarded by their protective parents. Now, though, it's only adult birds that are visible, soaring overheard or returning to the nesting sites with seaweed or twine for nest repairs.
The day's real treat, though, came in the form of a handful of caribou (Rangifer tarandus) trotting across the Eastern Hyper-oceanic Barrens. They were a hundred metres away, and seemed unconcerned at my presence. They'll soon begin to shed their pale winter coats, taking on a darker, sleeker look for summer. It will be fascinating to watch the changes that take place here at the Cape between now and October.