I recently returned from a 2 week long family vacation which brought us to the rugged coastlines of the Bonavista Peninsula to the Mountains of Gros Morne on the west coast of Newfoundland. One of main goals during the trip was to photography the Atlantic Puffin. To my surprise I hadn’t photographed one for 3 years now which blows my mind how time flies and how life can be so busy.
Our visit to the Bonavista area lasted 5 days 4 nights where we stayed at our favorite location in Elliston the Island View Cabin. My family and I have rented this cabin 4 different years and have absolutely feel in love with the place. It has become our home away from home. (below is a cell phone image of my family and I in front of the cabin the morning we were leaving)
Nestled at the end of one of the roads in the small town of Elliston this cabin provides an ocean side view looking across at the distant Puffin Colony.
Each morning at around 4:30 am I would head out to the Puffin viewing area only a 5 min drive away from the cabin. (below is a cell phone shot of the Puffin Site sign at the start of the short walk out to the viewing area)
Though the viewing area provides great views of the puffins the breeding colony is located some 35 yards or so away from the mainland making any closeup images of the puffins impossible to capture. So the goal is to sit and wait in hopes of the puffins landing on the mainland which depending on the weather/wind conditions can happen frequently or not at all.
On our first two days I had very little luck with the puffins as only one or two puffins would land on the mainland for very brief moments not allowing for any great photo ops. On the second morning I decided to try and get a little creative with some distance silhouette images as the morning sun began to rise.
With little puffin luck it allowed me to shift my focus to another species and one that is greatly over looked by many people including photographers that visit the area. The Atlantic Puffin is clearly the crowd favorite and rightly so but there is another seabird that hides amongst the cliffs and its calls can be heard all along the coastline.
This bird is the Black Guillemot
What attracts me so much to this seabird and why I feel it deserves much more attention/recognition is for its stunning bright red feet and inner mouth; which contrast nicely with the black feathers. I find these birds so interesting and fun to photograph. They can be a challenge as often times you have to lean over steep cliff edges to capture them as they hang out on small rock crevices in the cliff sides.
Below is one of my favorite shots I took of a Black Guillemot during my visit. It was about mid morning and the sun was in full force. I walked over to the shadowed side of one of the cliff faces; peering over the edge I found this one Guillemot sitting comfortable in the shade. As I framed up my image I noticed a ray of light filtering through the huge crack in the cliff and creating these beautiful highlights in the water as the waves crashed below. I thought it was a nice touch to the image.
On our last full day in the area I was starting to loose hope that I would get any close up images of puffins..it was an overcast day which is perfect for wildlife photography (especially for birds with dark and white feathers since its easier to proper expose for them). At sunrise I sat hopelessly waiting for the birds to land and it wasn’t until about an hour and a half after sunrise that a glimmer of hope happened as one puffin landed, then another and another at only about 15 feet away from where I was sitting.
So for the next hour I was treated to up close views of these goofy but stunning looking birds. Here are a few of my favorite images from the morning:
Even though I only had a limited amount of time with the Puffins through out my 5 day visit to Bonavista it was a very productive one.
It was now time to say farewell to the beautiful rugged coastline of Bonavista and Jenelle’s parents as they returned home. (below is a cell phone shot of the rugged coastline of Cable John Cove just outside of Bonavista)
We started making our way central where we would met up with my parents in their 32 foot motor home and head west to the beautiful mountains of Gros Morne…
Stay tuned for part two of my Family Vacation with a hint of Wildlife Photography which I will post in a few weeks as I am heading to Terrenceville this weekend for 7 days in search of one of my favorite subjects the Woodland Caribou.