New Year’s Day Sunset

The first day of the year was a cold one, and I spent the last few hours of it at the beach, quietly watching the sun set:

Sunset at Red Point Provincial Park – Prince Edward Island

Yesterday, a snowfall warning was in effect so¬†Marije and I stayed inside as flurries started swirling around the house. Today, we waited until well in the afternoon before stepping outside and digging out. There was about a foot of snow all around the house, and even more on the car. Winter weather is here! ūüôā

Spring Snowfall and Staying Safe

Migratory birds have arrived on Prince Edward Island, we’ve had robins and grackles in the backyard for a while now, but that doesn’t mean spring weather is here too, in fact we’re on track to get a lot more snow this week, on top of all the snow we had yesterday:

Fox tracks in the snow – Red Point, PEI

This is a photo from this morning, when I was getting some fresh air at nearby Red Point.

I guess we could all use some fresh air right about now, because this pandemic, it’s distressing.

Marije and I are being very mindful about everything we do, while staying positive. We are taking the public health advisories and strict measures to heart, doing our part to slow the spread in our community. Also, I have asthma, so I don’t want to get anywhere near this bug.

One of the best ways to stay safe right now, social distancing, is right up my alley. When I’m outdoors hiking or¬†photographing, I feel best when no one else is around for miles. And because Marije and I moved to Canada from Europe over a decade ago, we are already used to communicating with our family and friends over FaceTime.

We did have long-standing plans to visit Cape Breton next week, but we’ve canceled our trip in the face of what’s out there. For now, we are safer staying at home, and I hope that wherever you are, you are staying safe too.

Into 2018

When a new year comes around there isn’t all that much to tell you about, winter is pretty quiet in Souris. Often I’m inside working at my desk, and only when the sunlight floods into the house do I feel the urge to go outside, until I take a look at the outside temperature.

Wind chill temperatures have been hovering around -25‚ĄÉ all week, often even colder when you go out in the early morning. Yesterday felt especially chilly as I was enjoying the sunrise at Red Point, where instead of a sandy beach there was solid layered ice, and instead of water there was a frozen slush gently lapping the shoreline:

An icy beach like this can be quite slippery, so take care if you’re out there exploring too. I usually cross the ice in a straight line and then wade through the slushy surf, which is cold and offers more resistance, but is not slippery at all:

One of the things I enjoy most about winter on Prince Edward Island is the ice on the cliffs, which is often an artwork in its own right:

Later today there’s a big blizzard coming our way.¬†We’re expecting up to 30cm of fresh snow, accompanied by wind gusts over a 100 kph and rain showers to top it all off…

It’s important to dig out of a storm like this as soon as it lets up, otherwise all that saturated snow is going to freeze again and it’ll be that much harder to get rid of.

Double digits and song birds

The temperature will reach double digits today, 11 degrees!

Right now it’s only 7¬†but in the sunshine that’s more than enough for me to go out in just a shirt, especially compared with the very cold winter we’ve had. Next week there is still¬†some snow in the forecast, but all around me spring is ready to start…

This week we saw the common grackles return, very pretty birds that have been gone all winter:

These birds make a squeaky sound like a rusty hinge, so it’s very easy to¬†hear when they arrive in the yard. In the little forest next door there’s a song sparrow with a considerably better song:

He doesn’t look like much but this guy can sing with the best of them!

With all these songs around the house it’s easy to imagine spring is everywhere, but on the beach the scenery is still very cold and icy:

These three shots were taken this morning at Red Point Provincial Park. ūüôā

More March sea ice

March continues with its cycle of thawing and refreezing, bringing muddy trails one day and solid frozen ones the next. Rubber boots are indispensable when you’re out and about on Prince Edward Island:

Muddy trail above and a frozen road below:

The highlight of March is still the sea ice, it comes and goes with the wind, this week we finally had ice in Souris and in other places it hadn’t been before:

Sea ice at Red Point Provincial Park:

And sea ice at Basin Head Provincial Park:

Icy beaches at Red Point & Naufrage

Three good reasons drew me outside today: I’m feeling much better, snow has been cleared enough to get around, and it was very sunny! To make the most of the day¬†I visited two beaches, one at Red Point and one at Naufrage, and both beaches were half frozen.

I bundled up to protect¬†my skin from the intense cold, I honestly don’t mind the wind chill but I do have to get used to it again¬†after two years in balmy BC. At Red Point it was about -20, cold enough to make me wish I’d brought more layers. The temperature difference¬†between the air and water was large¬†enough to make the sea steam, which looked very pretty in the morning sun:

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There was little to no snow on the beach, a marked difference with the interior of the island where in some places the snow is several feet deep.

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What was present on the beach was ice, in all kinds of shapes:

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At Naufrage the beach was filled with ice too:

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My actual purpose for visiting Naufrage was not to walk the beach, but to see if there were any seals present in the harbour. Back in Newfoundland the seals always loved hauling out on the ice in frozen harbours, so¬†today I was curious if the PEI seals did the same thing. I’ll keep checking in the coming months. ūüôā

Red Point, East Point, MacPhail Woods

During this last week the weather has turned cold, frequently pelting the land with hail, or covering it up with snow: winter is here…

In BC we never had snow, there was never even a reason to wear gloves or a hat, but that’s all changed now we’re back East, and I’m very happy about it!

Here are some photos from a walk at Red Point, East Point and in the MacPhail Woods:

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The waves were pretty wild at East Point, and it was here that I wished I’d brought some gloves:

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This past Saturday Marije and I visited the MacPhail Woods, which has a couple of forest trails that reminded us very much of the forest trails in Holland:

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blue-stained wood - MacPhail Woods

blue-stained wood – MacPhail Woods

Finding new places to hike

This week I’ve been out and about trying to find some places where I can go for a nice long walk along the coast. I used to explore¬†coastal trails all the time while I lived in Newfoundland but I got out of the habit on Vancouver Island, where there were no coastal trails anywhere near our home.

After a few weeks on PEI I’m already starting to discover some nice coastal trails though, some just run along the beach, while others run atop¬†the crumbling red cliffs themselves.

Here are some photos from the last few days:

Morning waves - Basin Head Beach

Morning waves – Basin Head Beach

Basin Head Beach is one of the more obvious places to go for a long walk near Souris;¬†from the visitor centre to the end of the beach it’s just over 4.5 km, so a return walk on this beach is a very nice¬†way to stretch your legs and get some fresh sea air while you’re at it.

I walked the length of this beach Monday morning, and was continuously treated to a show of northern gannets flying alongside me, some of them even plunge-diving down for a fish from time to time:

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On Tuesday morning I stopped by the beach at Red Point, where there was a beautiful light show unfolding on the horizon:2016-10-25__08-37-36

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When the sun briefly pierced the clouds the beach lit up with all kinds of soft reds:

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After the beach I explored some new back roads in the interior of the island, these roads were littered with leaves that had¬†been ripped¬†from the trees by this weekend’s high winds. At the moment¬†it seems like we’ve got a fall storm coming through every week or so, we’re loving it!

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This particular forest lane continued all the way out to the coast, where I was pleasantly surprised to find an unnamed trail that ran just above the cliffs:

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Our first weeks on PEI

Prince Edward Island National Park - Cavendish

Prince Edward Island National Park – Cavendish

Now that we’ve been on the island¬†for 2 weeks, I think it’s time I shared¬†some pictures and¬†first impressions with you.

Compared to our previous island homes, PEI is a small place, you can drive it from tip to tip in about¬†3 hours and we’ve already seen quite a bit of it. The island’s coast¬†is a beautiful mix¬†of crumbling red cliffs and sprawling sandy beaches, and thankfully it’s sparsely populated.¬†The interior of the island¬†is a patchwork of pastures and farmer’s fields, some of them filled with colourful crops, others empty after having been¬†harvested earlier this month. In passing we’ve also seen some stands¬†of forest, but so far I haven’t had the chance to see what they look like from¬†the inside.

These first 2¬†weeks we’ve been busy¬†finding a home and driving back and forth between Souris and Charlottetown where all the big stores are located. Marije’s been working hard¬†at her new job and I’ve been outside exploring the beaches and dunes, beautifully simple places where I’m slowly getting reacquainted with¬†the peace and quiet I lost after we left Newfoundland. Most of the beaches I’ve seen¬†are abandoned, no doubt due to the end-of-season timing. When I’m¬†walking down these empty beaches¬†it’s just me and the shorebirds, both enjoying the breeze.

To give you an idea of what our new island home looks like, here are some pictures from our first two weeks:

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Souris River – Souris

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Dunelands Trail – Cavendish

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Marije –¬†Greenwich

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Mixing currents – East Point

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Bluefin tuna – North Lake

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Colourful beach – North Lake

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Warning sign – East Point

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Rocky beach – Cavendish

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Rocky beach – East Point

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Crystal clear water – Red Point PP

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Visitor facilities – Basin Head PP

Pond boardwalk - Greenwich

Pond boardwalk – Greenwich

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Rocky shore – Campbells Cove PP

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The beach – Red Point PP