By Ellen Jakubowski, Communications Specialist, Bird Studies Canada
Earlier this year, we announced that Sonya Richmond (until recently, a GIS analyst with Bird Studies Canada) and Sean Morton would be taking their lives in a dramatically new direction to hike across Canada for bird conservation. Did you think their plan sounded enviable, admirable, or questionable? Did you wonder what it would be like to spend three years hiking The Great Trail?
Fortunately we can now put speculation aside, because the hikers are on their way! They set out from Cape Spear, Newfoundland on June 1, 2019. They were accompanied on the first leg of their journey by members of Nature Newfoundland and Labrador, who gave the travellers an enthusiastically warm send-off. Journalist Juanita Mercer was on hand to capture their first steps and the story appeared in many local newspapers.
Over the following weeks, they traversed the Avalon Peninsula and headed towards the heart of Newfoundland’s Boreal forest region. Along the way, they have shared bird photos and facts with their online audience, met helpful ATVers, photographed captivating landscapes, and noted cultural and historical points of interest. They have also been challenged by wind, rain, and misleading advice from Google Maps.
On June 9, they met up with photographer Daniel Baylis, who came out to capture their image and share their story with The Great Trail community.
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We were lucky to spend the morning with @daniel_baylis the Instagram curator from @thegreattrail this morning! The weather held up for some photography (these are his pictures of us) and gave us all a chance to exchange hiking stories. Daniel also did the most amazing things anyone can do for hikers…1 he waited for us to have breakfast, 2 he offered us help in resupplying and 3 gave us @clifbar as we parted ways. A great trail angel! #comewalkwithus #hike4birds #birdstudiescanada #clifbar #imagesofcanada #exploreeast #explorenl #explorecanada #backpacker #naturenewfoundland #backpacking #trailangel #trailmagic
Travelling at a walking pace and exposed to the elements, they are experiencing the landscape in exquisite and sometimes uncomfortable detail. They are fully attuned to the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations of nature – whether it is a birdsong delighting the heart, or that same birdsong interrupting their sleep at the crack of dawn. For the rest of us going about our normal lives, it’s a fascinating window into a wild country that holds so much to discover and so much to protect.
Photo: Sean Morton
You can follow along on their journey by visiting their blog or following their Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter accounts. Bird Studies Canada will also be sharing updates, and especially their bird-related content, through our channels. You can also meet up with Sonya and Sean for a portion of the trail, or invite them to speak at a school or an event, by contacting them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Finally, you are welcome to lend your support – any funds exceeding the amount required to cover their basic needs during the hike will be donated to Bird Studies Canada.
Bald Eagle Photo: Sean Morton