Prince Edward Island

August 2012











































I started writing my column for The Recorder in 1997. This was also a period of my life that was particularly strange. I had my Master's degree from U-Mass, but jobs for wildlife biologists were few and far between. I was trying to find my way and I took a peculiar detour with an odd company that turned out to be a massive waste of time. There was one bright moment in that strange summer of 1997, however. I took a trip to Prince Edward Island and fell in love with the landscape. So, 15 years later, it was with great anticipation that I returned to the gorgeous scenery of this maritime province...and oh what an adventure I had!

The Red Rock of PEI

Perhaps the most amazing feature of Prince Edward Island is the ground itself. Made of a reddish-brown sandstone somewhat similar to Mount Sugarloaf in South Deerfield, MA, this rock forms gorgeous clifs, delightful cobblestone shorelines, and even the sand on the beaches is red.

My only regret about this trip is that I didn't get myself a "red dirt shirt" while I was there. Locals simply fill a tub with the red soil and then plunge white T-shirts into the muddy water to make a natural tie-dye effect. The background color of this page is pretty close to the color of the shirts.

Simply Beautiful

Prince Edward Island has a rich history. First discovered by Europeans in 1534, the importance of the region was soon the source of much conflict. Throughout the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries there were skirmishes, battles, and all manner of conflict in the region. Yet, all the while, regular people lived their lives.

Sailing vessels, both warships and merchant ships, needed to navigate the waters around the island, which lines with all sorts of interesting little coves, bays, and harbours. Light houses were an integral tool in navigation before the invention of GPS systems, and Prince Edward Island is peppered with antique lighthouses to this day.


Near Disaster!

My adventure almost ended on the first day of the trip. My Nikon D80 developed a glitch with the shutter that resulted in many missed photos.

Desperate, I headed to Charlottetown, found the Canadian version of a familiar US electronics store, and bought a new D7000. Armed with this new technology I was able to return to my photography the following day. The improvements on this new camera allowed me to capture this image of two plovers fighting.

It just kept getting better...

But that wasn't all. I spent several hours baking in the sun in a kayak that I had run aground on a mudflat. Since I was basically at water level I was able to get the "bird's eye perspective," of birds that weren't actually flying. Low angle photos like this usually have a more authentic feeling because the viewer can more easily imagine what it was like to be there.

It took a little while, as it always does, but after about an hour the birds feeding in the area began to ignore my presence. Plovers and sandpipers often passed so close to me that I couldn't take photos with my telephoto lens because the lens couldn't focus on them.

Other amazing sights were blue herons, bald eagles, northern harriers, gulls, and this pair of common terns. How often does a tern carrying a sand lance deliver it to another tern that is standing less than 50 feet away from you? Perhaps the best day of photography I've ever had!

Copyright 2014 William Danielson