Updated: Jan 22
Many of us spend years "chasing the dream" in our 9 to 5 jobs. This was certainly the case for me but, after my retirement, I saw that life had more possibilities than previously imagined. As a lover of nature and owner of a small vacation rental in Pouch Cove, I often explore the outdoors, take photos, and share my experiences with guests in order to help them plan their vacation. This is my puffin experience.
Meet the Atlantic Puffin, the official bird of Newfoundland and Labrador. Puffins are nicknamed the "clown of the ocean" because of their black upperparts, white face and chest, chiseled eyes, and parrot-like, bright-colored beaks. The first time I saw a puffin, I was surprised by its tiny size. Did you know that a mature puffin weighs only about 380 grams (13 ounces), measures only 32 cm (13 inches), and has a wingspan of 53 cm (21 inches)? #atlanticpuffin
By far, the largest puffin nesting colony in Newfoundland is at Gull Island at the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve, a protected area accessible only by boat. Puffin watching boat tours come within feet of Gull Island's coastline, providing guests the opportunity to view thousands of puffin and other seabirds soaring overhead, swimming in close proximity to the boat, and nesting in the cliffs. #ecologicalreserve, #gullisland
In September, the puffin leaves the coast of Newfoundland to return to the open sea where it will spend the winter. Although puffin mate for life, the pair often do not see each other through the winter. In early May, both return to that same nest as previous years and, on reuniting, perform a beak rubbing ceremony. #puffin
Puffin who have not yet paired up gather on rocks near the nesting colony and await inspection by potential partners. Males and females have similar appearances with the only noticeable difference being their size. The puffin's nest is prepared by both the male and female. Only one egg is laid per couple per year and incubated over a period of about 45 days. Both partners watch the nest and, in succession, one leaves to fish and return with the meal to feed the family.
Puffin have a dietary preference for small fish. As they excel at flying and are quite agile swimmers, they are proficient fishers. The pointed ridges inside their beak and on their tongue allow them to carry up to ten fish at a time. As other birds try to steal its meal, puffins must work tirelessly to return a meal to its family.
Pufflings, as the little puffins are called, are ready to fly after 40-80 days of hatching. The adults will leave the nest several days before the young, necessitating the pufflings to travel on their own. Pufflings fly at night to avoid predators, using astral markers as directional guides. Unfortunately, these young birds sometimes become disoriented by the city lights and land in nearby communities. The chances of puffins surviving on land are extremely slim and their best chance of survival is their return to the ocean. #puffling
There are rescue groups, such as the "Puffin Patrol" in Witless Bay, Newfoundland, that, work with volunteers to search for land-lost pufflings and arrange for their release back to sea the following morning. #puffinpatrol, #witlessbay
A trip to Newfoundland's east coast just wouldn't be complete without a visit to see the puffins. I visit every year and, each time, am as captivated as if it was my first visit. I'm sure you will agree that your Newfoundland travel itinerary will be made all the more complete when you include plans to see these amazing sea birds. Please follow my Newfoundland Travel Blog to see my work on some other popular tourist attractions in eastern Newfoundland. I'd be delighted to hear from you so why not contact me today? #seabird, #newfoundland, #thingstodoinnewfoundland, #travelitinerary