Bon Portage Virgin no more

When Alix asked whether I fancied trip to Bon Portage in his Zodiac, yes was the obvious answer. One of the top birding off-shore islands in Nova Scotia, a visit to Bon Portage was just something that had not happened so far. In-part it is because getting there is not such a done-deal as going to The Cape, there is some transport but the Acadia University staff obviously get priority, and so a visit may be longer than expected if their schedule differs from yours. The other reason is that I’ve been busy! Landing on Bon Portage requires the sort of agility that I last saw in myself around 14 years ago and had to rapidly re-find or spend the duration looking longingly at the woods from the Zodiac anchor point. I did manage to climb the weathered wharf, as evidenced by the lack of my obituary in any local newspaper.

The island is not an easy place to bird. It took us a while to start seeing birds, hearing them was not an issue although the limited species range, in the absence of any sort of true migration arrival, was not too challenging. We walked the net runs and did the cobble-stroll to the light before retracing our steps and spending more time around the island bird hotspot, the cabins. This plan worked well and the highlight was a male Blue-grey Gnatcatcher that flitted around us for a while and sang quietly.

Our Bon Portage checklist is here:

For info on visiting Bon Portage, go to:

And now a few images.

The sea was semi-benign and so, after leaving Bon Portage, we opted for a quick look at Green Island, off The Cape, Cape Sable Island, a mere 6.84km away from the Bon Portage wharf. The island hosts a tern colony and has Atlantic Puffins too and so is worth seeing. We had a mass of Common Terns there, a small number of Arctic Terns and the prize, eight Roseate Terns, the first in Nova Scotia this year. The Atlantic Puffins were there as hoped for although only one came close. The eBird checklist is here:

Closer to home, Ervin found a Tricoloured Heron which proceeded to shuttle around The Guzzle, on The Hawk, CSI on May-12th. I managed a couple of shots in flight and enjoyed scope views down, thanks for the call Ervin. It may still be around but, if so, it has become elusive. On May-13th there was a Black-billed Cuckoo around the church on The Hawk, found by Keith Lowe. Mike had views and I managed to hear it, eventually. That bird put me on 160 for the island for the year and was #199 in Nova Scotia. With the next two weeks being the big ones for May, although realistically nothing will compare to the Swallow-tailed Kite, then 200 in NS is assured, my bet for #200 is Common Yellowthroat.

The eBird Global Big Day came and went on May-13th. Because I went to Bon Portage I was only able to bird CSI from around 2pm, recording just 60 species, a good 18 down on last year’s score. I think I’m going to have another bash at the 78 sometime in May, on a day when the signs are good and the light is kinder.

My interests often stray beyond birds, so here are a couple of moths and a butterfly I photographed recently, plus a couple of bird shots from Frotton Road, Yarmouth Co.

Above, a Brown Elfin butterfly, below a Spring Azure and below that a Juvenal Duskywing.

Two moths. Above The White Speck, found in a restaurant in Yarmouth and, below, a new species for me, Day Emerald, a moth that was flying during the day on The Hawk, CSI. It is a tiny insect, thanks to Jim Edsall for the ID.


One thought on “Bon Portage Virgin no more

  1. As always, stunning pictures. So glad to see Barn Swallow on your BP list. I had several over my house around 5pm and later (could have been same bird over and over) on Sat. Nobody else mentions them. Also collected 3 golfballs on WindWhistle Hill on Fri, presumably fired at the Sandhill Crane. DNR, anyone???


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