Broadly speaking, the Great Trail in Nova Scotia offers fantastic opportunities to view Atlantic seabirds, species that inhabit mixed forests and marshes, tidal mud flat and salt marsh birds, and birds associated with more agricultural areas.
As we crossed the Canso Causeway on to mainland Nova Scotia we got a great view of an Osprey, the provincial bird, perched atop the bridge. The next 67 km of trail took us along roadways that skirted the Canso Strait and the beautiful Chedabucto Bay. In this section we saw Herring, Ring-billed, and Greater Black-backed Gulls, Double-crested Cormorants, a Great Blue Heron, several Belted Kingfishers, and a small group of Black Ducks. Although highway walking doesn't typically lead to too many bird sightings, one of the highlights of this section was encountering an extremely agitated and vocal Merlin perched in tree at the side of the road.
|Great Blue Heron|
|Greater Black Backed Gull|
|Black-throated Green Warbler|
The walk in to Sunnybrae along the Guysborough Rail Trail was somewhat exposed. During the hike we were very hot and beset by thick swarms of voracious deer flies. At a different time of year it would have been easier to enjoy the young regenerating forest, and the feeling of wildness that this stretch offered. Here we saw Blue Jays, American Goldfinches, a Hairy Woodpecker, and quite a few flocks of elegant Cedar Waxwings. Particular highlights were seeing a Brown Creeper making its way down the trunk of a tall white pine, an American Woodcock flying clumsily along the trail in front of us, and seeing a Great Horned Owl!
Truro is located on the Bay of Fundy, and the Tidal Bore Interpretation Center offers not only a great view of the Tidal Bore, but also some great opportunities to see shorebirds and gulls out in the tidal mud flats. At the Interpretation Center, and along the beautiful Cobequid Trail on the way out of Truro we saw Greater Black-backed Gulls, Semipalmated Sandpipers, and Black-bellied Plovers.
|Greater Black-backed Gull|
After the beautiful Cobequid Trail, which took us along the Salmon River, we had another long section of road walking which essentially lasted until Musquodoboit Harbour. We made a stop at the Shubenacadie Provincial Wildlife Park, which is a wonderful place to learn about wetlands, and to get close-up views of some of the birds and other wildlife that inhabit Nova Scotia. Birding highlights included seeing a Great Horned Owl, a Barred Owl, two Bald Eagles, peafowl, a Barnacle Goose, and a Black Swan.
Our birding highlights along this coast included seeing flocks of Semipalmated Plovers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Black-bellied Plovers, and Short-billed Dowitchers. We also saw lots of gulls, and enjoyed watching Common Terns fishing in the sea. Apparently all the species of owls that live in Nova Scotia have been sighted in the Salt Marsh, so this amazing beautiful spot is also a truly fantastic spot to go birding.
We would also recommend stopping to visit the Hope for Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Seaforth, just before Lawrencetown. This is an amazing place, and although the bird species they have in residence change depending on who needs assistance, it is a great place to support, learn from, and see a few birds close up.
Birding Nova Scotia from the Great Trail has been a pleasure! These are only a few of the amazing bird species we've seen along the way. For a more comprehensive list please browse our daily blog entries.