Iceberg Alley

On this, the last day of Iceberg Week, and the last nice day I can find in the foreseeable forecast, enjoy a couple more photos of the big beauties. 20160616-img_0472


The iceberg above was my favorite of all. Very blue and smooth due to the unrelenting antagonizing by the Atlantic Ocean.

If you're looking for more beautiful photographs of Newfoundland icebergs, look no further. I have links for you!

A good friend of mine, and fellow biologist, takes exquisite photos of Newfoundland. Please drop by Chelsey's website and have a look. I promise, you won't regret it!

Also, if you want an iceberg tracker for the behemoths paying rent in Iceberg Alley (a large stretch of coast along the province of Newfoundland and Labrador), please check this out. is an incredible resource for locating and keeping tabs on icebergs detected by both humans and satellites. Have a look now to see how it works and then be ready to track icebergs in real-time during the next peak season (April-August).

I hope you enjoyed seeing icebergs and learning a little something about why we care for big random pieces of ice this week. There will be a couple more iceberg cameos in the weeks to come because I'm not even close to finished showing you Newfoundland.

For now, we'll head back to the world of birds where I have dozens of feathered dinosaurs waiting for the limelight.

Beware of a foundering iceberg

Like a stick of dynamite going off. Or a gunshot. That's how I've heard folks describe the sound of a cracking iceberg. 20160615-img_0426

Most of the time, the bulk of an iceberg will founder relatively quickly. Pieces break off here and there but the actual foundering part, when the iceberg has run its course, happens in succession.

To see it happen is a right-place-right-time type of situation. But it can easily be a wrong-place-wrong-time situation. It is advisable never to go too close to an iceberg because if it was to founder in range of a little human--I don't think I need to tell you how much of the iceberg is underwater--the physical consequences (sheer size of the 'berg + undertow) could be catastrophic.

So we get as close to them as we [safely] can, take our million photographs, taste the little pieces ("bergy bits") and then respect them as they die a magnificent and dramatic death.

I call this iceberg "The Ferrari"

Just when you think an iceberg is white, it plays the same trick on you as the clouds. Instead, you'll find samples from every fraction of space taken up on the color wheel by cool hues. 20160616-img_0470

Can we leave blue icebergs posing as white icebergs alone, each one a poetic vessel slowly running itself aground? No. Let's science the hell out of it.

Icebergs are pieces of glaciers, really old glaciers. They are virtually impurity-free and have very little internal air. Because of this, there are also minimal reflective surfaces inside. When a long-wavelength light hits the iceberg--red light for example--it is absorbed rather than reflected. The light that is refracted is blue (or somewhere between blue and green).

So once again, our eyes are the most limiting factor to our beautiful world. Even when we see something, really see it, we're still only able to play ball in the visible light spectrum. I don't know about you but I'm overwhelmed by just one spectrum. Imagine the world that birds see!

2birdfeature #7: Striking Warblers

Warblers are a big deal during June in Newfoundland. They come in, guns blazing, ready to party. Ready to sing all hours of the morning and night and make babies. It looks like they're having a lot of fun. Really, they're desperately trying to pass on their genetic material and guard their nests while hopefully not being eaten. Less pleasure, more business. I chose two bright, summery little warblers for today's post to spite the coming Newfoundland weather. Our winters are rough, guys. First of all, it's Canada. Second, we're on a giant rock in the middle of the North Atlantic. Allow me the summery warblers, please.





The term "migratory" refers to movement. Across the globe, or perhaps a few kilometres. MIgratory birds spend different parts of the year in different places with great purpose. Each place constitutes the perfect conditions for a specific species' breeding and wintering seasons. June in Canada is a great place to hatch chicks. It's not too hot and not too cold. And O, the trees!

Yellow Warblers winter in the southern United States, Central America and South America (Bolivia and Amazonian Brazil). They eat insects and the occasional berry. They're quite abundant in the world and a common sight at backyard bird feeders.





Magnolia Warblers winter in Central America and the Carribean. They eat mostly moth larvae and spiders. They're common despite their long-distance migration, though slightly less common in recent years due to deforestation.

This Sunday on the blog: a mammal that lives deep in the Louisiana bayou!

2birdfeature REVAMPED: Newfoundland-style

Earlier this year I ran a series called "2birdfeature" where I zoomed in on 2 species of birds seen on Protection Island, WA, USA (where I did the fieldwork for my masters). If you would like to read about those feathered dinos, click the links below. #1#2#3#4#5#6

I'm bringing 2birdfeature back but this time, on a different island in a different ocean. I recently had an incredible opportunity to travel around the island of Newfoundland (one half of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada) to survey boreal landbirds during their breeding season.

I live in the capital city, St. John's, which lies on a four-armed peninsula in the Atlantic Ocean called the Avalon Peninsula. After living here for a number of years, I was eager to adventure away from the Avalon Peninsula into the heart of the island and lucky for me, all the way north to the very tip of the Northern Peninsula where polar bears and other such magical creatures call home.


My focus was mostly migratory inland birds (lots of songbirds and woodpeckers) but I also noted many shorebirds, seabirds, and birds of prey. Mammals too! More moose than I can count, several run-ins with caribou and one very interesting morning playing hide and go...stalk?...with a rather large male black bear.

I was on the road for over a month camping in the back of my SUV and when I got lucky, putting my feet up at a number of beautiful heritage B&B's.


It was an incredible, if not surreal, experience to walk through some of the last wild woods that remain on our planet. I have much to say about literally going where no woman has gone before. Most of it, in terms of getting my boots stuck in Newfoundland bogs and being attacked by Greater Yellowlegs while my boots are stuck in a bog.

Come back Wednesday for the first Newfoundland-style 2birdfeature.

All of the photos on today's post came from my Instagram account which is linked to this blog. A feed of my photos can be found in your sidebar on the right-hand side of your screen. If you're on a phone or iPad, scroll to the bottom to see more photos from my daily adventures. I never use filters so what you see is what you get.

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