Cape St Mary’s Ecological Reserve

One hundred and seventy-five kilometres from St John’s, was Cape St Mary’s Ecological Reserve that was established in 1983. The sixty-four square kilometre reserve, of which most was ocean, was bird haven. Situated on the southernmost tip of the Avalon Peninsula, was the largest nesting colony of gannets in Newfoundland—some 30,000.

I hiked the trail along a cliff that dropped one hundred metres or more into the Atlantic, and came upon a multitude of noisy nesting birds—murre, cormorant, guillemot, razonbills, and gannet, each with their own portion of the cliffs. The noise of their chattering was constant because there were thousands, if not millions of birds and I was lucky to arrive on a fog free morning.

On the last stretch of the trail, I was within twelve metres of Bird Rock where numerous birds crowded on to the nesting stack.  A distinct fishy smell hung in the air, probably from the capelin the birds fed on (like the whales). Here was the southernmost breeding place for murre. 

In spite of the short, easy hike to this vista of bird life from the visitors’ centre, few others took advantage of the experience, at least on the day I arrived.

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