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Seabirds, hoopsters take flight down the shore

Dave White
Dave White

 Isn’t it ironic?

Just when you think you have it all figured out, you realize that you haven’t seen it all, yet. But that is another story. For someday. For now, I am stumped by politics.

    This week in the waning high Thursday moon of May, blackbacks and smaller salty gulls are seen inhabiting western Newfoundland’s fishy environs, as ever. Flying. Resting. Nesting.

    Around here, the “rats with wings” reluctantly share ground and flight space with transient cormorants and assorted other seashore-, ground- and aerial feeders.

   Moreover, the fortnight of May heralds the Mother’s Day arrival of the McIvers’ “Tern of the Millenium,” now of untold generations. Mom loved the time of the tern through their presence and hers, mid-May to mid-August every year for as long as anyone else still alive here can remember.

    Arctic and common “stearns” (as local ancestors taught) have made McIvers Island their summer love nest spanning almost six quarter-centuries of human memory here, recalled tales of those times shedding light on their existence. Documented in public record, the local newspaper, living on, natural history and human occupation abide. Cohabited.

    Once, fully documented through the federal initiative known as the Canadian Wildlife Service, some 654 mating pairs by nest count, highlighted some 2,000 tern dominating the near-shore McIvers islet and its surrounding environs. Defending their families against marauders is a difficult challenge. Under intense pressures and long tested, they survive. These ste’rns.

    Meanwhile, overwintering gulls, being all they are, have overtaken springtime nesting sites on the islet acreage through the last decade, leaving re-terning lifestyles in a precarious place. What may this year hold for all of nature’s childen. We’ll see.

   Last year, a fraction of the tern once inhabiting the island rock were present. Their numbers dwindled in nature’s cycles and changing tradition, looking worrisome.

   Tourists from all over have long come to take a look and take more than a few pictures. This year may be the last chance for a while, pending nature’s calls, to snap their flighty actionings.

   Come take it in. The first arrivals of tern are expected next weekend, typically by Mother’s Day.

   The delightful kingfishers’ presence around the islet acreage through the turn of last century, when it was known of other nomenclature, has had identities of Porter’s Island, Park’s Island, and Dave White’s Island attached to the variable red, gold and green reality of the seasons ever present and just adjacent our hometowen shoreline. Truly, local.

   Nature takes its course. Rabbits breed. Seals eat. Gulls swallow. Show times vary, even as whales were seen chasing bait nearby last weekend. Can our fish last?

   Spring has finally arrived.

Corrected community mates

   Ryan Murrin and Devon Murrin were erroneously identified in last Thursday’s column recounting the Templeton Tigers’ recent success winning the School Sports Newfoundland and Labrador 2A schoolboys basketball championship. The teammates hail from Irishtown.

   For dozens of students, this month also marks high school graduation time, a celebration and a call for grads to take a look at the bigger picture beyond the classrooms that have filled their lives until now. Congratulations, young ladies and gentlemen.

Also of note

  Reports in social media this week suggest that there is too much snow on the backcountry roads in the north Humberlands of Goose Arm to allow passage by normal automobile and camper traffic into the area. Risk-takers could end up stuck on any Mother’s Day outing. Do be careful out there.

Dave White welcomes your Bay of Islands news and events information at 660-5712, or email at bayofislands2008@gmail.com.

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