Saturday, July 17, 2010

Actors, Cellars & Puffins

Two other neat towns near Bonavista are Trinity and Elliston. Trinity has several well preserved buildings and a theater company. Elliston bills itself as the Root Cellar Capital of the World and is a great place to get a really close view of puffins.
We heard on the local news that when there are a lot of lupins they are going to have poor summer weather. Well guess what, when we arrived on June 18th we saw no lupins but by the time we were coming south from the Northern Peninsula they were everywhere. The weather has been all over the place with highs ranging from 42 to 82 with rain, clouds, fog and sun sometimes all in one day. We only had one day that was a total rain out and the weather has not prevented us from doing and seeing what we have wanted.
Several of the buildings in Trinity. The town has become a popular place for Mainlanders and Americans to purchase or build summer homes. The winter population is only about thirty. It was a neat place with all the old buildings and newer homes built to conform with the older appearance. But it does have an artificial feel to it compared to Bonavista, where most of the old building are still being used.
A great way to see Trinity and to learn a little history is to attend the Pageant, a walkabout play with ten scenes in different locations throughout the town. The Rising Tide Theatre also does several indoor productions from June to October. We enjoyed the play a great deal.
Elliston has over 130 well preserved root cellars, some that have been in use for 165 years. Before refrigeration the cellars were the only way to keep root vegetables through the winter. They were used year round to keep perishables from spoiling. They were mostly built with local materials but one did have the roof supported with a steel beam salvaged from a ship wreck.
What is it that would bring out the big lens on a cloudy day? Well, it is the puffins. One of our goals while in Newfoundland was to see a puffin and here we saw hundreds. Puffins generally are found on islands just off shore so it is difficult to get an close look at these beautiful unique sea parrots. We did see a few near the Cape Bonavista Lighthouse but they were all pretty far away. On our first visit to Elliston we were told many would land on shore on days when the weather was not very good. So we returned on a dreary afternoon and sat in the drizzle and waited along with the big cameras. I was almost afraid to show my little thing.
This one came and sat on the edge for few minutes as if posing for us. Puffins are excellent swimmers and divers that breed from the Maritimes south to Maine.
The puffin in the foreground is on shore while on the island just off shore there were hundreds more. Puffins raise a single chick in a burrow or rock crevice with a grass lined nest. They were flying down to the water to get capelin, the same fish the whales eat, to bring back to feed their chick. It seemed like one would fly for food while the other stayed back to protect their chick from the ever present gulls.
These two landed together and seem to be entertaining each other. They are very comical when they fly with their dumpy bodies and their short little wings flapping like crazy.
This is a good place to see them even if they don't land on shore. Puffins are members of the auk family and look like a bird put together by committee with penguin bodies, murre wings, duck feet and parrot bills.
Nanc relaxes in a puffin chair after a long day of puffin watchin.

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