Monday, January 15, 2018

Tipsy Canoe and Olaf, too

Okay, I had a lot of choices for potential titles for this blog.  There was "A Merry time in the Maritimes,"  I could have also said "Miracle in the Maritimes" in the honor of the Vikings shocking win.  I could have started out with the Immaculate Reception tale.  Then there was the "Legend of the Dungarvon Whooper," which I will talk about as one of the horror movie scrips I could come up with events from this trip, which surprisingly have nothing to do with me.  But since I earned a lifer beer, and I like the sign, we will leave the title as is.  Lifer beers are rare, these days.

New Brunswick....I can only say one thing about New Brunswick, in that it is one of three  Canadian Provinces I had never been to before yesterday.  Getting here is a piece of work, as there is no jet airport and the turbo-props seems to go late if at all.  So from where I last left you in Winnipeg, I flew to Toronto, then after a monstrous layover, I had to wait through a further 2 hour delay.  I got to Fredericton, and then began a nighttime odyssey on roads covered in more black ice than I'd seen before intermixed with the occasional moose.  I got stopped in Blackville NB as a house was on fire and the trucks were blocking the highway.

Here is a look at the burnt out shell in the morning.  It is sad that someone lost a place to live.  Miramichi, my goal, never looked so good when I finally got there.

Morning came, it was cold and gray, even the coffee line at Tim Hortons didn't lighten the day and I drove up into a residential section to look for the rarest bird that has been seen in North America (except for the Bering sea) in over a year.  It was also day 36 for this bird.  This poor mistle thrush appeared in a backyard of a birder on December 11, and has just moved two blocks, still living off of Mountain ash berries, as to be real about it, this European bird has nowhere to go, certainly it won't return across the ocean.  It will starve or become a meal for a sharpie.  This huge thrush is not even a world lifer for me, as I have seen the bird previously in Norway.  

All that being said, I should have came here long ago, be it for illness, sloth, storm warnings, Christmas, chasing other birds, and a general malaise of traveling alone, delayed my departure but finally, I had to go get it.  I may never in my life get a second chance for this species.

Full of Tim Horton coffee, I arrived at the stakeout by myself and then twenty minutes later I saw it in the trees eating berries.  I think it just hopped out of a spruce, but there it was.  Mistle thrush...TICK!

I snapped pictures  until my fingers were numb.

Tough to get a great picture of this bird.  It stays in the thickest branches.  I ran into the finder of the bird.  I staked out his backyard for a while and then began my meander back to Fredericton.  It was kind of cold to go sightseeing but well, I always find things.

There are some strange legends out there, maybe the legend of the Miramichi Mistle Thrush will be told for decades but the Legend of the Dungarvon Whooper might take the case of an odd one, possibly also bird related.

Back 200 years ago at a logging camp, there was this young cook named Ryan, who died, probably killed by the camp boss, the men returned in a severe snowstorm and buried the poor lad in a shallow grave.  From thenceforth every night, whoops and screams could be heard from the grave all night, then men fled in fear never to return.  This continued for three years necessitating a priest, Father Murdoch from Renous  to come to the area and bless the grave (or possibly shoot the owls) and the whoops ended.  So ends the legend of the Dungarvon Whooper.  It would make a great horror movie.  A guy can't make this stuff up.

I found New Brunswick to look just like Douglas or Bayfield Counties in Wisconsin, complete with white-tailed deer under almost every tree.  "Give our deer a brake."  Was a popular sign.

The churches seemed older...

The stop signs different... 

but generally the same.

This place just had massive winter flooding and the water is high, roads flooded by sort of frozen water and the rivers look impressive.  There are piles of ice everywhere.

There is one difference to eastern Canada, though.  It is French Country and Western music that just is the weirdest thing.  It befuddles me, to hear this intermixed with Sammy Kersaw and Neil McCoy "The Shake" is just wrong.  

2nd verse of The Shake

Eve first said to Adam
Which outfit do you like
The maple or the fig leaf
Now honey they both look nice
Clothes don't mean that much to me
Maybe you better go and ask the snake
And what really turns me on is the shake

You know, when I think of cowboys on the range, I don't think of a Frenchman doing it and especially not singing about it.  It is amazingly popular out here and I find myself laughing endlessly.  I just couldn't take it any longer and I had to switch to an English language station, which of course causes its own issues.

Then came my idea for a second horror movie.  The big sound off on Fredericton radio was a woman ranting against the church bells near her house.  She told how many times the bells tolled a day.  Saying.  "Many think the bells invite you to church, I think they are driving us away in droves.  When you are sick, resting, trying to concentrate on you home job, the bells, the BELLS prevent you.  Will the city or the church pay for one's mental health, will they cover the medicine?  Will they pay my salary?"  The woman asked the church to lower the volume and not shockingly, they started playing Amazing Grace at 8am  ....the radio guy laughed.  This woman is not following the Canadian stereotype to strive to just get along with everyone....."The Bells, The Bells!"  would make a horror flick with a woman pushed to the brink and then snapping becoming a murderer.....starting in the church....then if your cell phone goes off then it will be you.....the Christmas bell ringer at Canadian Tire....zap....the school kids in Music class....pow....what a movie!

And you thought Canadians were the nicest people.


Despite the many month wait to add this bird to the checklist, (can't count it yet, North American first), I'm drinking my beer now, because I earned it.  Lifer bird!!  It is happy hour at the airport as I'm already heading out to get back home, and I may be a little tipsy in my canoe....




  1. Well since I have appointed myself your Canadian editor/fact checker, I once again am impressed that you get most things right. But then I shouldn't be surprised as you are an author and do your research. Plus, I am sure with all your fishing experiences up in Ontario you have long since been appointed honourary, ( note the Canadian spelling ), citizenship.
    So, congrats on getting this mega rarity.
    Believe or not, New Brunswick USED to have jet service from Air Canada and the former Eastern Provincial Airlines- pretty well all 737's. I guess the bean counters, however, eventually figured out turbo props were more efficient and cheaper.
    And, of course, you were in Acadian country which explains the Country/Franco music. I mean this is where Cajun Music- Louisiana style came from; ( after the Brits expelled many of the Acadians from the Maritimes in the 18th century, and most of those ended up in Louisiana ).
    As for the grouchy radio caller, that shows you what happens to people when they have to endure 10 months of winter, followed, of course, by two months of blackflies, and mosquitoes.
    Liked your takeoff on the Tipsy Canoe sign, and a well deserved Maritime beer. I will regretfully admit that Alpine was my beer of choice when I lived in Nova Scotia; kind of surprised they still make it, but that part of Canada is full of hard to break traditions.

    1. Yea, not sure if I like it better or worse than Canadian, definitely better then Blue eh! Dang Blue....I was thinking Moosehead but I almost had a real Moosehead last night

  2. Glad the thrush is still hanging in there, hope the people are putting out some food for it, as it is surely the premier tourist attraction in Miramichi.

    1. There was 26 cars in line at the Tom Horton's a few blocks away......I think the thrush can't compete with Tom. I talked to Peter Gann, the guy who found it, it is just eating Mountian Ash berries and it is a bit picky, likes the perfect ones. Chases the robins and the waxwings off if they come by. Could have enough food until thaw, might be close if it remains picky or if the other birds ravish the tree. They don't winter that far south, Belgium, Germany, etc, so we all hope, You never know about winters in Maritimes, ...

  3. Thought this comment went through but I guess not. Olaf, you know better-It is Tim Horton's, not Tom Horton's! Best coffee and rolls around.

    1. Thanks, I was having one of those brain deals, psychosis or something, maybe I was thinking of Tom Thumb stores IDK, yes, and I just found one in St. Cloud, Minnesota...more Tim Horton's more often.....


The Lowdown of the Lowcountry

On Wednesday, we moved from a very overcast and wet Southeastern Virginia to a sunny southeastern North Carolina.  We reached the Low countr...