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by Bruce Sherman on Mon Dec 04, 2017 11:03 pm
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Bruce Sherman
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Location: Rockport, TX
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We are considering a trip up to Nova Scotia, PEI, and Newfoundland early summer of 2018. Answers to the following questions would be greatly appreciated:
1. What focal length lens (on a crop sensor Canon body) would give decent shots of individual gannets at Cape St. Mary's?
2. Are there any lodging/restaurants nearby?
3. What time of year would be best for a visit?
Thanks in advance for any help.

by pablo on Tue Dec 05, 2017 4:53 pm
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Been to Cape St. Mary's twice, once in early September 2014, and last year August 9 to 12. Timing is critical.  Summer is fog season there, so having only one day makes it very sketchy early in the nesting season.  Fog diminishes in August, but not completely. We had 4 days set aside in August 2017 banking ( hoping?) on one good day.  It is not just fog, but also wind direction.  You need light in the Northern Gannett's face as they land into the wind.  There is only one place to stand.  We had part of one day with good light but the wrong wind direction.  On the last day, fog dissipated by noon and wind aligned perfectly.  Shot over 800 images in 1-1/2 hours of intense activity. Amazing. On foggy days, I worked on the Horned Larks near the visitor center.  That was good with virtually no one disturbing me.  (They are focused on N Gannet solely.)  The first visit in September 2014 was only a half day and we hit it perfectly.  The walk is about 1-1/2 miles each and worth it, but don't start the walk without first visiting the facilities, eh?  I used a 7D Mk II with 500mm f/4 on gimbal mount, often adding 1.4 X multiplier. Also had a big, stable tripod.  Worked well, especially with the high burst speed to get the wings in the best position.  Used a Think Tank Glass Limo to haul the lens out there and it was appreciated on the hike. (See the store.)

We stayed in Branch this year. The Cabin we rented was fair. (I don't think there is camping nearby.  The one restaurant/campground near the entrance burned down. )  There is also lodging in St. Bride's, maybe more options there.  Some sort of efficiency unit is nice since food options and timing are limited.  Do some research.  We liked the Puffins Perch restaurant in St. Bride's.  There are not a lot of options to eat.  The store in Branch has good food upstairs.  You can research B&Bs, but they often don't match photographer's time preferences.  We stocked up on supplies before we got there and made our own breakfast, sometimes also lunch.

Finally, I would say that June and July would be very doubtful because of fog.

The people at the visitor center are wonderful, and taking four days to get one perfect setup was worthwhile. Northern Gannets are big, graceful on the wing and beautiful. 

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