Saturday, August 21, 2021

Natural History Observations from a week in New Brunswick


New Brunswick is a gorgeous province! It is still 90% covered with Boreal forest, Bogs, Wetlands and has not been "developed" like the Southwestern Ontario peninsula where I reside.  The air is fresh, the views of the ocean, the seemingly endless expanse of forest is simply mind-blowing for a nature loving individual like myself.

My family lineage is mainly of Irish/French background, and involves Irish immigrants settling near Mirimichi NB and the Acadian Peninsula where many French settlers made their home. The north-eastern corner of New Brunswick is rich in history - a mix of Native Peoples, along with French and British cultural tensions. 

Some goals for this trip:

*See a Moose
*Walk on a few Bogs
*Go to the Kouchibouguac National Park (
* Go to Irving Eco-centre, la Dune de Bouctouche
* Go to Irving Nature Park in St John
*Go to Blacks Harbour (and perhaps the ferry to Grand Manan Island)

*Go to Johnson Mills Beach, in Dorchester NB - which is famous for shorebird migration
*See some waterfalls
*Try to get any Bird, Butterfly, Moth, Botany lifers or Atlantic specialties (Ex: Saltmarsh Sparrow, Altlantic Puffin).
*Of course, natural history observation was not the only purpose of this trip, I was there primarily to help my dad drive up to NB, as its an 18 hour, two-day car trip.

Summary of Trip:

Long story short, NB is almost a square-shaped province. I essentially drove from the top left corner of the province (Edmonston) , to the top right (Tracadie), down the eastern coast (mirimichi, moncton), then back along the southern edge (St John, St Andrew, Fredricton). 

Birding Efforts

Since I did not really have my own car, my birding efforts were a little more "muted" than if I had free reign of where I could go. Still, the end of the my week was in the St John NB area, and my cousin from that area was very obliging to help me birdwatch and visit sights. The deal was - we can go anywhere, and I would pay for the gas... Seem fair no?

I had only one lifer - Saltmarsh Sparrow ---- (Editor's Note ---> I have probably seen/photographed a Nelsons' Sparrow --- I was looking at Ebird, and it seems there are not many saltmarsh sparrows as far north as NB)

*Note: I could be wrong on Saltmarsh Sparrow - There is a chance it is Nelson's Sparrow... I have little experience with these species, but considering its a salt-marsh habitat along the atlantic ocean / Bay of Fundy --- I will side with Salt Marsh. 

Blacks Harbour - Black Guillemot

Veudreuil - Montreal - A Coopers Hawk chasing a Pileated Woodpecker (no photos) at my cousin's house.

Butterfly Watching Efforts

With all the nature and habitat in NB, one would expect a bounty of butterflies, but my observations of lep species were surprisingly weak! Of course, mid August may not be the peak time to observe butterflies but still.

Some butterfly lifers are:

Short Tailed Swallowtail (Kouchibouguac Park NB)
Maritime Ringlet (St Andrews NB)
Green Comma (Fredricton NB - Split Rock Falls)


Turtlehead  (I think) was easily noted at a historic site called "Acadian Village" in New Brunswick. This is supposed to be a native plant in Ontario, but I have never seen it until this trip. Pitcher Plant (tuberous?) was noted at the kouchibouguac bog trail.


Lepreau Falls (St John NB)

Reversing Falls/Rapids (St John NB)

Joclyn Creek Falls (Fredricton NB)

Split Rock Falls (Fredricton NB)

Noteworthy Spots:


New Brunswick is a stunning province from a nature perspective. From an Ontarian's perspective, its almost like going "Back in Time" before Ontario's Forests and Wetlands were converted into cash crop fields. Before the land was segmented by a matrix of roadways. I would like to go back again next year, perhaps earlier in the summer (Early July?) to see the breeding Atlantic Pelagic Species that can be well seen near Grand Manon/Blacks Harbour. Johnson Mills was beautiful and interesting, but having seen great shorebirding days at our local Hillman Marsh, it was not as diverse as I was hoping.  I was reminded that even though the ecosystem is clearly intact and alive, the Great lakes - Carolinian Life zone that I live in is surprisingly biodiverse. 

Yours in Nature,

Dwayne Murphy

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Camera Tech - Some thoughts


I have used a Canon 7D camera for most of the life of this blog, perhaps over the last 10+ years. It is a crop-sensor, pro-body camera aimed at nature enthusiasts. Recently though, my camera fell as it was mounted to a tripod, and crashed onto its side, jamming the mirror mechanism inside.

I was camera-less for a week or two, and what I was hoping to do is buy a canon DSLR camera off Kijiji for ~$500 until an upcoming camera is released - a full frame mirrorless camera called the Sony Alpha 7 (version iv).

I had found a full frame used camera at henry's for $600, a Canon 5D ii --- but after owning for a week, I had returned it as I felt that a camera that is a good part of $1K that is 12 years old, and with a crappy battery was not a good value.

A friend of mine suggested I try to "repair" my Canon 7D --- and sure enough, that advice was good advice. My 7D is working just fine again!  and I have my $680 back after returning my used Canon 5D mark ii.

So... what is the point here?

-Full Frame vs Cropped Sensor

-DSLR vs Mirrorless

-Latest and greatest vs tried and proven, older tech

Ultimately - what makes good camera tech is a mix of the camera, the lenses you have, and ones' ability to get out and use it!

I feel that my next big camera purchase will be a (Sony A7 iv) - which might be released to the market in late 2021. I have already purchased a Sony 300mm lens for that camera in anticipation of acquiring this new camera body. 

Some features I'm hoping for are:

-Great low-light capability for astrophotography

-High dynamic resolution to make photos that look like us humans see them (thing HDR)

-Better autofocus

-4K video

-A fully articulating screen

-Bird's eye recognition???

Compromise ---

Every camera has its strengths and weaknesses, and one thing I will miss from DSLR tech is the optical pentaprism view. Mirrorless cameras have a small monitor that you must look at, which is a video of what is on the sensor instead of the actual optical scene. I imagine this will be one obvious drawback from mirrorless tech. 

Thoughts? Has anyone tried mirrorless camera tech? Should I stick with DSLR tech?



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