Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Paddling La Manche & Great Island

Last weekend, four of us went for a paddle on the Southern Shore (an hour south of St. John's) from Brigus South to Bauline East. We stopped at La Manche for lunch and then circled Great Island, which is one of the seabird islands in Witless Bay Ecological Reserve. The photo above shows paddling buddies Des Sullivan, Malcolm Rowe and Isabelle Hubert.

This shot shows the group under the East Coast Trail bridge at La Manche. It's a gorgeous spot. There was a fishing village here one hundred years ago, with stages, fishing rooms, and fish flakes for drying salt cod.

Here is the view to seaward from the La Manche bridge. We had a great day for paddling: sunny, hot and swell less than one metre.

As we approached Great Island, the numbers of puffins, murres, kittiwakes, and the occasional razorbill grew overwhelming. The seabirds were in the water all around us diving and feeding. The air was FULL of birds, flying back and forth to the island, carrying fish. As we got closer to the island, the smell and noise of the nesting birds reached a fevered pitch.

This rock has common murres standing on top and kittiwakes sitting on nests below.

Here is a tunnel on the seaward side of Great Island. The swells are always bigger on this side of the island, and this day they were surging through this tunnel. We had a close look but played it safe and didn't paddle through.

Here's a group of murres and razorbills on the water beside the island. It's amazing how close you can get with a sea kayak.

We enjoyed a fantastic day on the water. The paddle ended on a bit of a sour note in Bauline East. Some thoughtful soul had left a chest freezer full of rotten meat (or fish?) near the wharf. The smell was truly appalling. We didn't linger long.

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