In Shelburne yesterday Greg met the new mayor, Al Delaney, so he could take his photograph for an upcoming article in Coastal Life. I tagged along. We went out to the commercial wharf so they could have a picture of Shelburne Harbour's potential.
A loon floated peaceably in calm water near the wharf. He disappeared for a long time while I waited to watch him resurface. It's amazing how they are at home both beneath the water and in the sky. "The old folks around here call it a salt water loon," Al told me, "but it's a common loon -- the same whether it's in a lake or the ocean." That was something I had wondered about so I was glad to know. A loon is a loon. We've been seeing more of them in the past few weeks. Later I read in Birds of Nova Scotia that the loon winters on the sea and goes back to the lakes as soon as the ice has melted there. We have loons in the cove in the warm months, too, but the book tells me they must be non-breeders, who don't return to the lakes. We have been seeing more loons because the lakes are frozen now and so they can't dive for food there.
There are ice floes at Fort Point in Gunning Cove, where we dock on the mainland, and our boat crunched up against them on the way in. Peter told us last week that the wind will push the ice from the harbour into Gunning Cove, where it collects. Then you have to be very careful to get out again. The lobstermen turn their boats around when they dock for the night, so they'll be heading out bow first and can break up the ice with their bows. Otherwise, if you back up as usual, you may damage your propeller blades. As we were leaving for home, I leaned out over the stern and poked at the ice floes around Chopper with the gaff. I thought I would push them out of the way. But they are amazingly thick and heavy. I think they could do a lot of damage.
On the way home we watched buffleheads zipping around in the very cold water of the harbour. Birds of Nova Scotia says that buffleheads are uncommon here in winter. I'm glad they are hanging out in Shelburne Harbour, because they are great looking birds -- diving ducks -- and fun to watch.
Images from Birds of Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History Website