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Donelda explaining about sealife. Donelda's Puffin Tours, NS

Donelda and the Puffins

Donelda and the Puffins

On Puffins and Jealousy

Puffins (and auroras) were on my agenda (and that of my ex-husband’s) all through our trips to the Shetlands, Orkneys and the Outer Hebrides, but we always failed to see them. Here was my golden opportunity. I was willing to pay the 40US$ and have the famous Donelda do her best to get me puffin-worthy.

Donelda’s Puffin Tours, recommended by the N. Sidney’s KOA staff, is an admirable couple enterprise. She conducts the tour and he manipulates the boat. Following 30 years of lobstering with her husband, she decided to buy her own boat and conduct tours to Bird Islands. So many people in the world do things one can get jealous about, but also inspired by, or a little bit of both…

Donelda explaining about the sealife., Puffin tours, NS

Donelda's husband at the wheel. Donelda's Puffin Tours, NS Doneldaexplaining about sea life. Donelda's Puffin Tours, NS

Getting There

The desk staffers at the KOA gave me the schedule and instructions, but I still managed to get confused. Something about the directions bewildered my spatially- dyslexic brain. Looking at the Google map now I can understand the problem – what is an island, what is a peninsula, which is a fjord, which is a lake? Do you get to your destination by going “up” or “down”?

If you take a look, I hope you’ll get sympathetic with my ordeal. But, yes, the KOA is on a peninsula, and yes, I had to cross it to get to the next waterway, and yes, the water is still considered Atlantic Ocean even when surrounded by land on most sides…

I managed. Basically I needed to get back on the #105, find the junction with #312 at exit 12 and take north towards Englishtown. Sounds easy.

Parking by Donelda’s Puffin Tours was challenging as well. As much as the rest of the road was deserted, here it was packed. At the cute little Puffin Store,  I bought puffin magnets for my daughters’ refrigerator from a shy, sweet vendor.

        Everything puffin for sale, by Donelda's Puffin Tours, Englishtown, NS


Donelda is, of course,  on the other end of the female shyness spectrum. With her booming business, keen commercial acumen, she has a good know-how of the world and of her place in it. She does her best to keep the needed enthusiasm after years of doing this tour. The seasonality of the job probably helps, giving a necessary yearly break. Donelda manages to keep the tourists engaged with her strong voice and sharp eye, constantly on the look for bald eagles, puffins, cormorants, seals.  To her credit, she also possesses valid scientific knowledge about the various birds and creatures, and is capable of answering questions intelligently. On the boat she keeps informative books catering for various levels of passenger interest.

The Clicking Frenzy

As expected, we all glued ourselves to our cameras, rushing from one side of the boat to the other, oohing and aahing. I ran out of my memory card in the middle of filming and needed to change. Many of the photos came out fuzzy, as it was hard to predict when Donelda’s husband would shift the boat’s position. We all were keen to “get” the one or two elusive puffins who did us a favor and overstayed their nesting season (I know, that’s my fate with puffins, but one or two are better than none!).

I tried different camera modes with follow-the-moving-object function and continuous shooting, and took some videos as well.

Here are selected results:

        My first puffin, Donelda's Tours, NS   Puffin with a catch in beak. Donelda's Puffin Tours, NS


    Bald eagle. Donelda's Puffin Tours, NS   Bald eagle boasting wingspan, Donelda's Puffin Tours, NS

    Bald eagle in flight, Puffin Tours, NS   Bald eagle hunting, Donelda's Puffin Tours, NS

Bald eagles

Getting jealous of Donelda pales in comparison with getting jealous of bald eagles –

     Cormorants on Bird Islands, Donelda's Puffin Tours, NS   Cormorants on rock, Bird Islands, Donelda's Puffin Tours, NS

or even cormorants – what a life on these isolated rocks in the middle of the ocean… with your group, nesting, multiplying, feeding, breathing, flying and resting. Ay…

Cormorants on guano, Bird Islands, NS, Donelda's Puffin Tours

More cormorants

    Seals perched on rock, Bird Islands, NS, Donelda's Puffin Tours   Seal colony, Bird, Islands, Puffin Tours, NS, Donelda's Puffin Tours

Seals sunbathing, Bird Islands, Donelda's Puffin Tours, NS


More Road Confusion

Now that I look at the map closely, I can see why I got confused. There was one way leading to the Cabot Trail driving south on the Trans Canada. There was another, going north on the #312 that took off from the #105. That one necessitated taking a short ferry ride to cross a small strait at Englishtown, which I did on the way back, not seeing other options at the moment.

I needed help navigating to another destination that evening: Baddeck town, where a Gaelic kitchen party was going to take place. 

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