Nova Scotia

10 Days from
$3,195 USD
Land Tour
Highlights

Highlights

  • Pelagic boat tour for shearwaters, puffins, kittiwakes, jaeger and whales!
  • Spectacular fall bird migration
  • Bay of Fundy tides and large concentrations of migrating shorebirds
Map

Map

Tour Overview

Autumn produces some fantastic birding in Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia is strategically located along the Atlantic Flyway, one of the major bird migration routes in North America. The southern shores of Nova Scotia act as a hotspot stopover for hundreds of migrating warblers, shorebirds and raptors, before they make their way south.  

Nova Scotia also boasts a variety of habitats, including coastal areas, marshes, forests, and islands, adding to the variety of birds we will see. Shorebirding here is productive and could include such choice species as American Oystercatcher, godwits, Whimbrel, and White-rumped and Stilt Sandpipers. In the forests, we will look for boreal species including Spruce Grouse and Black-backed Woodpecker.

In addition, we will take a boat tour to view a spectacular array of pelagic species, from shearwaters, puffins and kittiwakes to jaegers and phalaropes, and there is always the possibility of a rarer species showing up—and then of course there are the great whales! 

Dates & Prices

DATES & PRICES

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival and Orientation

Our Nova Scotia birding tour officially begins in the evening in our hotel lobby where we will meet and head off to a nearby restaurant for dinner. Night in Halifax

Halifax Harbour is a large natural harbour on the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia, Canada

Day 2 & 3: Wolfville

We will leave Halifax and drive the Annapolis Valley towards King’s County, where we will encounter an amazing variety of excellent birding habitats, from the Miner’s Marsh for waterfowl and songbirds, the Guzzle for shorebirds and the Grand Pre area. The Guzzle offers a chance to see thousands of roosting sandpipers up close at high tide.

We will spend a second day in the area where we will explore the scenic Blomidon and Cape Split areas that are great for songbird migration, and offer views of the dramatic Bay of Fundy tides, and red sandstone cliffs.

As with much of Nova Scotia in the fall, rarities turn up regularly in this area, and we make an extra effort to track them down. We will stay in the picturesque and charming university town of Wolfville on the shoreline of the Minas Basin, an offshoot of the Bay of Fundy. Nights in Wolfville.

Blomidon beach at low tide (Blomidon Provincial Park, Nova Scotia, Canada)

Days 4 - 6: Brier’s Island

We will drive down the Digby Peninsula and catch a ferry to Brier Island, where we check in at our comfortable lodge.

It is traditional on Brier Island to be at Northern Light (lighthouse) near dawn to observe the often-spectacular stream of migrants departing for the northeast; they are compensating for having gone too far out to sea during the night. Northern Flickers, Eastern Kingbirds, several warblers and vireos, with attendant Sharp-shinned Hawks, are prominent.

There are always the unexpected among the birds — unseasonable “reverse migrants” and sometimes-real exotics from afar. These rarities often stay through the day, perhaps exhausted by their long, mis-oriented journeys.

During the day, there will also be plenty of opportunity to study “obscure fall warblers” and other birding challenges. The island is famous for its raptor flights in fall, particularly of Sharpshins, Broadwings, and falcons. Short walks to Pond Cove will give us a good list of shorebirds: Baird’s and Buff-breasted are sometimes there during this season.

On one of these days, we will board one of the island’s long established whale-watching boats—safe, well-outfitted and comfortable—for our half-day pelagic trip. Among the pelagic species, Great and Sooty and sometimes Manx Shearwaters, Gannets, Red and Red-necked phalaropes, Kittiwakes, and Puffins are frequent. Jaegers, South Polar Skua, fulmar, murres and Razorbills are possibilities, and who knows what else! Then, of course, there are the great whales. Days 4 and 5 we will spend the night on Brier Island. On day 6, we will depart Brier mid-afternoon and head to Yarmouth for the night.

Western Light on Brier Island is western most point in Nova Scotia. It also marks the point at which Bay of Fundy begins and Gulf of Maine ends.

Day 7: Cape Sable Island

Cape Sable Island is strategically located along the Atlantic Flyway, making it a crucial stopover for migratory birds. This will be our best site for shorebirding, with American Oystercatcher, Whimbrel and Hudsonian Godwit as specialties, and with a list of rarities such as Curlew Sandpiper and Bar-tailed Godwit. Birds such as “southern” herons and warblers, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Western Kingbird, Blue Grosbeak, Summer Tanager, Dickcissel, and Clay-colored and Field Sparrows are routine on Cape Sable Island at this time of year, and real “improbables” are always possible. Night in Yarmouth.

American Oystercatcher

Day 8: Kejimkujik National Park Seaside Adjunct

Today we will spend some time birding Kejimkujik National Park Seaside Adjunct. While the main portion of Kejimkujik is known for its inland forests and lakes, the Seaside Adjunct provides a unique coastal environment. There are several trails within the Seaside Adjunct that provide access to different coastal habitats (including beaches, salt marshes, and heathlands) and offer scenic views and birdwatching opportunities.

There are many sand beaches that we will stop at and explore as we head towards Lunenburg, a UNESCO world heritage site. Night in Lunenburg.

Boardwalk at Keji Seaside trail (South Shore, Nova Scotia, Canada)

Day 9: Lunenburg-Halifax

Today we will make our way from Lunenburg to Halifax stopping at various locations along the way. We will try our luck along some side roads for some boreal forest specialties including Spruce Grouse, Black-backed Woodpeckers, and Boreal Chickadee.

We will also explore the rocky shores around Peggy’s Cove, taking in Nova Scotia’s most iconic landmark. Night in Halifax.

The historic City of Lunenburg in Nova Scotia Canada

Day 10: Departure

Our Nova Scotia birding tour ends today, you can depart for flights home anytime today.

What's Included

Tour Price Includes

  • Good quality accommodation
  • Pelagic boat trip
  • Ferry to Brier Island
  • Includes all breakfasts and lunches
  • 4 - 8 Participants will be guided by one guide. 9 - 12 participants will be guided by two guides in two vehicles.
  • Gratuities to local guides
  • All park, conservation and entrance fees

Tour Price Does Not Include

  • Flights to and from Halifax
  • Travel Insurance
  • Evening meals
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Taxes (15% HST)

What to Expect

Overview

On this tour we will take in the incredible fall migration. We begin birding early in the morning, usually having breakfast around dawn. We may take a short break in the afternoon. After dinner, we will compile our bird and other wildlife lists, and discuss plans for the next day.

Driving

On most days our driving times will be less than an hour. When we move between locations our longest drive will be 2.5 hours, but we will be stopping along the way. 

Walking

The walking is generally easy on this tour. We may encounter some uneven, rocky terrain, but we will generally move at a slow pace.

Boat tours

We will take a 3-hour pelagic boat tour from Brier Island to look for whales and seabirds. We will try to change the day if the weather looks unfavourable.

Climate

Weather at this time of year is generally unpredictable, although autumn is thought by many to be the finest season in Atlantic Canada, with long stretches of mild weather. Heavy storms generally pass through quickly, although we should expect rain for at least one day. There should be no problems with biting insects.

Accommodation and food

The accommodations on this tour are generally good. We will sample a range of good restaurants, especially for seafood, during our evenings.

Featured Wildlife

Even though we cannot guarantee a sighting of the animals below, we feel quite confident that an encounter with the ones listed below is quite likely.

  • Atlantic Puffin
  • Red Phalarope
  • Greater Shearwater
  • Sooty Shearwater
  • Black-legged Kittiwake
  • Black Guillemot
  • Nelson's Sparrow
  • Northern Gannet
  • Common Eider
  • Humpback Whale