In early July my fiancé and I spent some time in Nova Scotia, spending a night in Cape Breton before heading to the Annapolis Valley where he grew up. We decided to drive down to save on costs, spending the first night in Woodstock, NB as we did in 2008 and our second night in Baddeck on Cape Breton Island. There we stayed at the Silver Dart Lodge right above Bras d’Or Lake near the start of the Cabot Trail. The property was lovely, with single rooms in the main lodge and small chalets available for rent (we stayed in the main lodge). Situated on 90 acres, the property boasts a pool, a playground, a gazebo overlooking the small, rocky beach, and best of all, hiking trails in the woods.
We arrived in the early afternoon. Doran wanted to rest after the long drive from Woodstock, but I felt compelled to explore the property. I could hear the lovely song of a Northern Parula coming from the trees behind the lodge so I decided to start my exploration with a walk along the hiking trails. There was a charming wooden frame at the entrance of the trail; I spotted movement just above it and was surprised to see a very young robin perching on top of the frame.
It didn’t seem inclined to move; I froze, and we spent several minutes watching each other before I finally decided proceed beneath the gate.
The narrow path passed through a dense wood predominantly composed of conifers. The mosquitoes were annoying, but just barely tolerable without bug spray. I heard a couple of Red-eyed Vireos and a single White-throated Sparrow singing and some small birds chipping high up in the trees. I started pishing and was delighted when a Blue-headed Vireo and a Golden-crowned Kinglet both flew in. A Red-breasted Nuthatch was also present.
A little further along I came to an open area which looked good for insects. Unfortunately the skies were clouding over, so there weren’t many bugs buzzing around. A Hobomok Skipper caught my attention….
…as did a young Chalk-fronted Corporal.
I startled a Great Blue Heron perching in a tree in the woods; I didn’t know it was there until it took off in a flurry of wings. It seemed an odd spot for the heron to be perching, but when I looked for water in the area I didn’t see any.
From there I headed down the main road to the lake. The “beach” was merely a rocky strip a couple of feet wide, but to get there the trail passed through a small open meadow dotted with trees. I heard another Northern Parula, a Yellow Warbler, and a Least Flycatcher singing in this area, while a Pine Siskin and a couple of Cedar Waxwings flew by overhead. There is an island offshore where I could see several gulls and cormorants, but I didn’t bring my scope and was unable to identify them.
It looked like it might start to rain, so I headed back up to our room in the lodge. Movement in the vegetation next to the path caught my attention, and I saw a wee Eastern Red Damsel land briefly on a stalk of vegetation. (This is not the best pic, but since it has been so long since I photographed one I’m including it!)
The sun was shining the next morning so I went back down to the lake to look for the Eastern Red Damsel and take some pictures. I didn’t see any odes, but I heard the Least Flycatcher again and saw the Northern Parula in the tree tops. The lake looked beautiful in the morning light. (All of the below photos can be enlarged by clicking on them).
On my way back up to the lodge I noticed a Pileated Woodpecker tapping on a wooden post above the lupins growing close to the road. It didn’t stay long enough for a photo; the lupins did. These lovely flowers are common roadside flowers in the Maritimes.
Here is a shot from the front veranda outside our room:
I returned to the hiking trails where once again I found some good birds, including two White-throated Sparrows, a couple of Northern Parulas, two Magnolia Warblers, both Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, a Hermit Thrush singing somewhere nearby, and a Dark-eyed Junco singing at the top of a tree. A few of these birds do not breed in Ottawa, but pass through regularly during migration, so it was great to see and hear them on their breeding grounds.
By the time I was done wandering around Doran was up and we headed over to the restaurant to eat (both our dinner there and the breakfast were delicious). We had to check out after that, but I really enjoyed our stay there, and would recommend the Silver Dart Lodge to any birder or nature enthusiast visiting Cape Breton.