Atlantic Puffin, By Frank Toller, Participant

Call Lead-Guide Steve "Esh" Eshbaugh today at 406.570.2428 with your questions about this trip.

Trip Cost: $4,100

Single Supplement: $600

Deposit: $800

Final Payment Due: April 15

Maximum Group Size: 8

Spaces Available: 2

Guide: Steve Eshbaugh

Target # birds: 120

Level: Easy to Moderate

Participants must be able to hike 2-3 miles per day, with some hikes including somewhat hilly terrain.

Tour prices are given “per person, double occupancy” and include a donation to BOTH Montana Audubon (Steve Hoffman’s former employer) and Cape St. Mary's Preserve, an effective Newfoundland-based nonprofit bird/habitat conservation organization. Our tour fee includes the following (unless otherwise noted):

  • All trip materials, including detailed daily itinerary, list of what to bring, recommended field guides and pre-trip reading materials, checklist of likely birds & other wildlife.

  • All services of the leaders and guides.

  • All transportation upon arrival to destination city.

  • All accommodations during tour dates.

  • All entrance fees to museums, parks, etc.

  • All meals (except alcoholic beverages) are included, typically from breakfast on the first full day through breakfast on the last full day.

Tour prices DO NOT include round-trip airfare, passport/visa fees, arrival taxes, baggage fees, single-supplement fees, telephone calls, laundry, room service, souvenirs, and tipping of guides & drivers (optional but highly recommended).

Tour deposit is refundable, minus a $100 processing fee up to 90 days prior to departure.

Note: Tour costs, itineraries and dates are subject to change. Prices may be affected by international currency exchange rates or necessary itinerary changes.

​We offset all trip impacts by purchasing carbon offsets to reduce our global footprint.

Nova Scotia and Newfoundland

June 29-July 10, 2022

This trip is any nature (and seafood) lover's dream! Imagine gazing at the gorgeous vistas offered by Cape Breton Highlands National Park, with mouth agape (caution!) at hundreds of thousands of puffins filling the skies above you. We'll also be looking for up to 25 species of warblers! Seabirds we'll likely see include Razorbill, Thick-billed Murre and Black Guillemot among many others. Mammal targets will include moose and caribou. Humpback whales often come so close to shore you might be able to smell their "blow." An overnight ferry trip from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland is a comfortable adventure, complete with shearwaters and other rarities as the Newfoundland coast looms in the distance. At Cape Saint Mary's Ecological Reserve we'll see Northern Gannets nesting by the tens of thousands (the second largest gannet colony on Earth!), and get close enough for amazing photos! Novice photographers will feel like pros!

 

At Saint Vincent's beach, Humpback Whales will likely be feeding on abundant capelin. We time our trip for the peak of whale feeding activity close to shore. Breaching whales are a common sight, and while you may have seen humpback whales before, probably not as close as you will here, all while standing onshore. You'll also be awed by the world's largest Atlantic Puffin colony, with these and other birds totaling more than a half-million, filling the skies and shores of Green Island.

The food also sets this trip apart. Those who love seafood will be in paradise. Meals of Maine lobster, scallops, chowder and a wide variety of other seafood will be daily opportunities. We'll have the chance to sample diverse local fare too, like patridgeberry and bakeapple (not a typo). Pies made from local fruits will be available for dessert after dinner... and lunch. This trip will delight foodies who also enjoy exploring nature!

ITINERARY AT A GLANCE: 

June 29: Your flight MUST arrive in Halifax by tonight.

June 30: Sherbrooke, Nova Scotia (Birding the coast, Abraham Lake &Taylor Head Provincial Park). Overnight Liscombe Lodge

July 1: Sherbrooke, Nova Scotia (Birding Waternish Road & Port Bickerton & Visiting Historic Sherbrooke Village). Overnight Liscombe Lodge

July 2: Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia (Birding coastal areas). Overnight Cornerstone Motel

July 3: Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia (Birding Cape Breton Highlands). Overnight Cornerstone Motel

July 4: Ferry from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland (Birding wetlands, ferry trip). Overnight aboard Marine Atlantic

July 5: Cape St. Mary's Ecological Reserve, Newfoundland. Overnight Capeway Inn

July 6: Birding Newfoundland, searching for caribou (Cape Spear, Branch). Overnight Capeway Inn

July 7: Trepassey, Newfoundland (whale watching, birding Cape Pine). Overnight Edge of Avalon Inn

July 8: St. John's, Newfoundland (Birding/whale-watching at Bay Bulls). Overnight JAG Botique Hotel

July 9 St. John's, Newfoundland (Cape Spear, Birding ponds, visiting Signal Hill). Overnight JAG Boutique Hotel

July 10: Depart for home from St. John's International Airport.

DETAILED ITINERARY:

Julne 29: Arrive Halifax: You will be met at the airport and transferred to our hotel. If your flight is delayed, you will need to take a taxi ($300) to catch up with the group. WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND ARRIVING A DAY EARLY!

June 30: We'll start out early this morning, exploring Waternish Road to search for warblers. As is always the case with birding, timing is everything, but during June, 21 different warbler species are possible on this road, some at very close range. Warbler species we'll search for include: Northern Parula, Blackburnian, Black-throated Blue, Pine, Palm, Black-throated Green, Magnolia, Northern Waterthrush and Canada.  We'll take a break, visiting a historic house built in 1892. In the afternoon we'll travel to Port Bickerton for a chance at Blackpoll Warblers, Boreal Chickadees, White-winged and Red Crossbills, and many waterbirds (including Willet, Whimbrel, Sanderling, Great Cormorant and more). Overnight: Liscombe Lodge Resort & Conference Center.

July 1: Canada Day! Our travels today depend on our luck yesterday. We may return to Waternish Road, or we can explore coastal areas like Wine Harbour and Tor Bay. Beyond warblers, we'll scan the seas for seabirds (a Dovekie was spotted on a previous trip here.) Overnight:  Liscombe Lodge Resort & Conference Center.

July 2: This morning we'll search for Black-backed Woodpeckers in the dead snags of a coniferous forest. We'll stop for lunch and enjoy gaelic music performed by locals. We'll make our way to Cape Breton Highlands National Park. A late lunch gives us the chance to regroup and enjoy a fantastic chowder. Overnight: Cornerstone Motel.

July 3: We'll spend a full day in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Besides enjoying many incredible vistas, we'll also search for Blackburnian, Chestnut-sided, Mourning and Magnolia warblers. Moose are frequently spotted in the park (and from our hotel), and we'll search the best habitat for these imposing hoofed mammals. If seeing a bog has been a goal, you'll have a chance to walk a boardwalk right through the middle of a bog. One trail here is renowned for a chance for spotting Bicknell's Thrush. This will also be our first chance at spotting Northern Gannets as they plunge dive to catch fish deep below the water's surface. We'll hope to catch some local music over dinner. Overnight: Cornerstone Motel.

Willet by tour participant Frank Toller

July 4: We'll bird as we make our way to the ferry that will transport us across the Atlantic to Newfoundland. We hope to spot Great Cormorants and Nelson's Sparrows along the way. The sand bars of Port Morien also present possibilities of Arctic Terns, Black-headed Gulls, Little Gulls and a variety of shorebirds, Birding from the ferry can yield exciting rarities, including Manx, Sooty and Great Shearwaters. Storm-petrels often zip above the water before us, and jaegers also show up occasionally. Overnight on Ferry.

Willet, By participant Frank Toller

Yellow Warbler, By participant B. Anne Bauchman

Nelson's Sparrow by participant Frank Toller

July 5: We should arrive at the dock outside Placentia, Newfoundland at around 10 a.m. Our next stop will depend entirely on the weather. Our final destination is Cape St. Mary's Ecological Reserve, a spot so overwhelming that all nature enthusiasts should be sure to witness this special place at least once. We will giggle at the antics of thousands of nesting Northern Gannets up close, protected from people by a several-hundred foot wide precipice. We also expect to see vast rafts of Common Murres and Black Guillemots floating on the ocean's surface below. In addition, Black-legged Kittiwakes nest here by the hundreds. Other expected bird sightings include  Razorbills and Thick-billed Murres. Overnight at Capeway Motel.

July 6: Weather permitting, we'll head back to Cape St. Mary's Ecological Reserve. Here we'll search the grounds around the reserve for Swamp Sparrows. We'll also keep a sharp look out for ptarmigans, which are occasionally spotted here. We'll then head out to Point Lance, and Branch, both where we may spot various shorebirds as well as whales hunting capelin close to shore. Herds of up to 100 caribou are spotted here from time-to-time. Overnight at Capeway Motel or similar.

 

July 7: We'll depart Cape St. Mary's this morning and head over to Trepassey. Along the way we'll stop at St. Vincent's, where humpback whales often feed so close to shore that binoculars are unnecessary. In the adjacent bay, we hope to spot Common and Arctic Terns standing side-by-side.

Nelson's Sparrow photo by Frank Toller, tour participant, Port Morien, NS

Northern Gannet by participant Anne Bauman

July 8: Weather permitting, we'll head back to Cape St. Mary's Ecological Reserve. Here we'll search the grounds around the reserve for Swamp Sparrows. We'll also keep a sharp look out for ptarmigans, which are occasionally spotted here. We'll then head out to Point Lance, and Branch, both where we may spot various shorebirds as well as whales hunting capelin close to shore. Herds of up to 100 caribou are spotted here from time-to-time. Overnight at Capeway Motel or similar.

 

July 9: We'll depart Cape St. Mary's this morning and head over to Trepassey. Along the way we'll stop at St. Vincent's, where humpback whales often feed so close to shore that binoculars are unnecessary. In the adjacent bay, we hope to spot Common and Arctic Terns standing side-by-side.

July 10: We'll start the day with a visit to the amazingly diverse habitat at Bidgood Park, where Swamp Sparrows, Cedar Waxwings and a variety of warblers abound. We'll also visit the easternmost part of the North American Continent today at Cape Spear. With luck we'll spot a jaeger hunting over the waters, and perhaps a shearwater or two. Signal Mountain, a key defense point of the North American continent for hundreds of years, is of great historic significance. Local ponds are a unique opportunity for picking up rarities, like Tufted Duck. We'll make sure to scour the rare bird alerts for any unusual birds that may be visiting from western Europe. This evening we'll have a final celebratory dinner. Overnight: Quality Inn Harbourview or similar.

July 11, 2019: This morning you'll be transported to St. John's International Airport for your trip home.

WHAT TRAVELER S HAVE SAID ABOUT THIS TRIP:

"I had an amazing time seeing totally new country for me....incredible birds from warblers to puffins....and enjoying great food and company!!  I would recommend to everyone!"

Ann B., Helena, MT

Humpback Whales, Photo by guide Steve Eshbaugh, St. Vincent's Newfoundland

By participant Frank Toller, Commom Murres at Bay Bulls, Newfoundland

Merlin Birding Tours offers extraordinary, affordable birding & natural history excursions in the U.S. and abroad.  We provide exceptional, personalized customer service to all clients. Custom ecotours are offered to any destination as requested. Consider scheduling a nature or birding tour with the expert guides at Merlin Birding today.

© Merlin Birding & Nature Tours, LLC 2018

P.O. Box 6788

Bozeman, MT 59771

Phone: (406) 461-5714

(Send us an Email)

Merlin Birding Tours offers extraordinary, affordable birding & natural history excursions in the U.S. and abroad. We provide exceptional, personalized customer service to all of our clients. Custom eco-tours are offered to any destination, as requested. Consider scheduling a nature or birding tour with the expert guides at Merlin Birding today.

© 2020 Merlin Birding & Nature Tours, LLC. All Rights Reserved.