The breathtaking seabird capital of North America
This is the exact time of year when you might want to start planning your visit to Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve.
Not that later in the summer isn’t a good time… or even early fall, but it’s over the next month or two that the perfect storm might just appear. Tens of thousands of migrating sea birds perched almost within arm’s length, whales offshore, possibly an iceberg – and the heart-stopping beauty of a rugged coastline blanketed in a velvet green wash of mist and sunshine. Reportedly there are already over 70,000 birds this season. If Newfoundland and Labrador is indeed the seabird capital of North America, then Cape St. Mary’s is its Houses of Parliament. And these feathered MPs have good taste. When I first visited the site just over two years ago, I was amazed at the rampant plains of lush grass, the artfully arranged coastline, seemingly designed to capture the sun just so. It was like a scene from a film. And when the fog moves in… well, it might obscure the view, but the drama! And when it lifts – which it can in the blink of an eye – it’s like a curtain raised above a stage.
Cape St. Mary’s is the most accessible seabird rookery in North America, full every summer with hordes of razorbills, common murres, black-legged kittiwakes, northern gannets, gulls, double-crested and great cormorants, scoters, oldsquaws, harlequins, dovekies, thick-billed murres, and kittiwakes. The focal point is Bird Rock the third largest nesting site and southernmost colony of northern gannets on the continent. A place where you can stand just 20 metres away from the most intense flurry of bird activity you might ever see. It doesn’t matter if you’re an avid birdwatcher or just there for the scenery. You can’t help but be impressed by the living, breathing, swooping, elegant, screaming mass of nature.
And as if the outdoors wasn’t enough, every Saturday evening throughout the summer (as of June 30th) you can attend Cape St. Mary’s Performance Series, which showcases artists from around our prolifically creative province, set against the scenic backdrop of the glass viewing area inside the interpretation centre.
Cape St. Mary's Ecological Reserve (not to be confused with the town Cape St. Mary’s) is located on the Cape Shore Drive off Route 100 approximately 2 hours from St. John's.