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Cape St Mary’s Ecological Reserve

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Immortalized in the much-loved ballad Let Me Fish Off Cape St. Mary’s, these days the wild, isolated headland, some 65km southwest of Placentia, is more famous for its mesmerizing sea-bird colony, protected within Cape St Mary’s Ecological Reserve. It’s one of the few places in the world where thousands of gannets, 10,000 kittiwakes and 20,000 murres (guillemots) congregate to nest on easily accessible sea cliffs and stumpy sea stacks, 140–150m above the waves; you can get exceptionally close via paths overlooking the shore (littered with blue-flag irises in summer), the rocks so smothered with birds they look like snow-covered peaks – you’ll smell them before you see them. The main gannet colony of 5000 and the most dazzling spectacle is generally considered to be 90m-high Bird Rock, just a few metres from the cliffs and a twenty- minute (1.4km) walk away from the car park, lighthouse and Dr Leslie M. Tuck Centre. Inside the latter you can watch a video about the site and view an exhibition on the local birds and ecology – you can also pick up one of the reserve’s guided walks ($7). Make sure you wear sturdy footwear and prepare for fog, even in midsummer.

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