Atlantic Puffin, By Frank Toller, Participant

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


Cost: $5,200

Single Supplement: $600

Deposit: $800

Final Payment Due: March 25

Maximum Group Size: 10

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 the 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 itinerary changes.

New Brunswick/Prince Edward Island Extension: $750

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

Register here for this trip

The Maritimes and Newfoundland

June 25-July 10, 2021

This trip is any nature (and seafood) lover's dream! We'll enjoy breathtaking vistas throughout Nova Scotia. In Cape Breton Highlands National Park we'll search for moose and walk several trails searching for a plethora of colorful warblers, and other songbirds. We'll then venture by ferry to Newfoundland. At Cape Saint Mary's we'll see Northern Gannets nesting by the hundreds, and close enough for great photos - even novice photographers will feel like a pro!


At Saint Vincent's beach, Humpback whales will likely be feeding on capelin. We try to time our trip with the peak of what activity. 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 on shore. You'll also be awed by the world's largest Atlantic Puffin colony, mixed with Razorbills and Common and Thick-billed Murres totaling over a half-million birds. It is spectacle no words, photos or video can capture. To date, all previous trips have also had marvelous looks at caribou.

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


Pre-trip extension - Visit the Maritimes

  • June 25: Fly to Halifax International Airport, Nova ScotiaArrive Halifax, overnight Halifax

  • June 26: Drive to New Brunswick (Sackville) and on to Charlottetown, PEI

  • June 27: Explore PEI National Park, East Point

  • June 28: Ferry to Nova Scotia, overnight Sheet Harbour. Fairwinds or similar

  • June 29: Sherbrooke, Nova Scotia (Birding the coast, Taylor's Head Provincial Park)

  • June 30: Sherbrooke, Nova Scotia (Birding Waternish Road & Port Bickerton)

  • July 1: Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia (Birding coastal areas)

  • July 2: Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia (Birding Cape Breton Highlands)

  • July 3: Ferry from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland (Birding wetlands, ferry trip)

  • July 4: Cape St. Mary's, Newfoundland (Birding Cape St. Mary's, searching for caribou)

  • July 5: Cape St. Mary's, Newfoundland (Birding Cape Spear, Branch)

  • July 6: Trepassey, Newfoundland (whale watching, birding Cape Pine)

  • July 7: Trepassey, Newfoundland (Mistaken Point, Cape Race)

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

  • July 9 St. John's Newfoundland (Cape Spear, Birding ponds, visiting Signal Hill)

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


June 25: Your flight must arrive in Halilfax tonight. (We strongly recommend you arrive the day before our trip starts, as your only chance of catching up with the trip is to rent a car and drop it in Charlottetown, an expensive proposition. Overnight Halifax Airport Quality Inn or similar.)

June 26: Leave Halifax for Prince Edward Island

We'll drive to PEI, stopping in Sackville, New Brunswick to bird the waterfowl park. While various ducks can be seen here, we'll certainly search for Virginia Rail and Sora. Other targets will be our first chance at a Marsh Wren, Alder Flycatcher, and Purple Finch. After a fabulous lunch, we'll drive to Green Gables to see this historic site. We'll head from there to our hotel for the next two nights, the fabulous Rodd Charlottetown. Tonight is capped off with a lobster dinner at the top-rated Walter Prince Corner Shop.

June 27: Prince Edward Island National Park, East Point Lighthouse

The short drive to PEI National Park doesn't hint at the stunning views here. We'll bird the forests, looking for Magnolia Warbler and expect to see American Black Duck and our first chance at a Mourning Warbler and Nelson's Sparrow. Weather permitting we'll take a stroll on one of prettiest beaches you'll ever see. Perhaps Sanderlings will delight us with their antics. After lunch, it's off to East Point, where we hope to see our first Northern Gannets, Surf, White-winged and Black Scoters along with Great Cormorants.

June 28: Ferry and Sheet Harbour, Nova Scotia: This morning we had to the ferry crossing from Wood Islands, PEI to Caribou Island, Nova Scotia (yes, there were once Caribou in Nova Scotia.) This short ferry trip gives a chance to pick up Bonaparte's Gulls and we're sure to spot several Bald Eagles.

​​​June 29: Drive to Sheet Harbour

We'll stop for lunch at Abraham Lake. Moments after getting out of our car, we'll hear Black-throated Green Warblers. The hike into this forest is an experience not to be missed, as this is an old growth red spruce forest.These will likely be the largest red sruce you will ever see. Pileated Woodpeckers take advantage of some of the old snags, and we'll search the woods for them. Winter Wren and Bay Breasted Warbler are also strong possibilities here.

After our picnic lunch and hike, we'll head to Taylor's Head Provincial Park. Here we hope to see our first seals, and Common Eider, Blackpoll Warbler and a variety of shorebirds. It's also a fantastic spot to enjoy the coastal winds and the incredible sights.

Willet, By participant Frank Toller

June 30, 2019

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 unwarbler-like close range. We'll take a break, visiting a historic house built in 1892. In the afternoon we'll travel to Port Bickerton for superb views of Blackpoll Warblers, Boreal Chickadees, White-winged and Red crossbills, and many waterbirds (including Willet, Piping Plover, Whimbrel, Sanderling, Great Cormorant and more). Overnight: Sherbrooke Hotel.

July 1, 2019

This morning we'll search for Black-backed woodpeckers in the dead snags of the conifer forest. Pine Grosbeaks often are spotted here as well. In the afternoon we'll make our way to Cape Breton Highlands National Park. A late lunch gives us the chance to hear Gaelic music performed live in Chetticamp. Overnight: Cornerstone Motel.

Yellow Warbler, By participant B. Anne Bauchman

July 2, 2019


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 amazing mammals. This will also be our first chance at spotting Northern Gannets as they plunge dive to catch fish deep below the water's surface. Overnight: Cornerstone Motel.

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

July 3,  2019

We'll bird as we make our way to our 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 presented possibilities of Arctic Terns, Black-heded Gulls and Little Gulls and a variety of shorebirds, Birding from the ferry can yield exciting rarities,  including Manx, Sooty and Great shearwaters. We also may see storm-petrels zipping above the water, and jaegers show up from time to time. Overnight on Ferry.

Manx Shearwater

July 4, 2019

We should arrive at our dock at around 10 a.m. Our next stop will depend entirely on the weather. Our final destination is Cape St. Mary's, a sight so overwhelming that all nature enthusiasts should witness this special place at least once. We will witness the antics of thousands of nesting Northern Gannets up close, protected from people by a several-hundred foot 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 thousands. Other expected bird sightings include  Razobrills and Thick-billed Murres. Overnight Capeway Motel.

By participant B. Anne Bauchman, Northern Gannet at Cape St. Mary's Reserve

July 5, 2019

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. Occasionally ptarmigans are also spotted, so we'll keep a sharp look out for these elusive birds. We'll then head out to Point Lance, and Branch, both where we may spot various shorebirds as well as whales working close to shore. Overnight Capeway Motel.

July 6, 2019

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 Terns and Arctic Terns standing side-by-side.

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

July 7, 2019

IIn the morning, we'll travel to Cape Pine, searching for Willow Ptarmigan and Short-eared Owls. At the cape, we hope to spot our first Atlantic Puffins, along with a variety of other seabirds. The afternoon, we'll make a visit to Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve, so named because of the number of ships that ran aground along this spectacular shoreline. Fossils at this preserve date almost 600,000 years ago and are stunning in their detail Overnight: Edge of Avalon Inn. 


July 8,  2019

We'll spend the morning birding the road behind our hotel. We should spot a number of warblers here, as the edge effect between the road and forest is often quite productive. Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, Northern Waterthrush, Fox Sparrows, Blackpoll Warblers and Boreal Chickadees are just some of today's target birds. In the afternoon we'll head to Bay Bulls to go on a ferry trip to Green Island, where we'll see hundreds of thousands of Atlantic Puffins, Razorbills, Black Guillemots, Black-legged Kittiwakes and Common and Thick-billed Murres. The scene before us is simply overwhelming, with birds so thick in the sky and on land that it is truly unimaginable. This is a must-stop for any nature enthusiast. Overnight: Quality Inn Harbourview.

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

July 9, 2019

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 spot a shearwater or two. Signal Mountain, a key defense point of the North American continent for hundreds of years, is a must visit. Local ponds are a great opporunity 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.

July 10, 2019

This morning you'll be transported to St. John's Internation Airport for your trip home.


"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

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 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.

© 2019 Merlin Birding & Nature Tours, LLC. All Rights Reserved.