DIGBY - SAINT JOHN FERRY
Spring: * Summer: **** Fall: **** Winter: **
Directions to this Site: If you are coming from the east (say Halifax), take exit 26 from Highway 101 and turn right or north on NS-303 toward Digby. Follow NS-303 north, after 2.2 km it makes a left at Victoria Street. At the 3.9 km mark you will reach Raquette Road. Continue straight through on NS-303, now called Shore Road, until at the 7.6 km mark from NS-101, you reach the ferry terminal. Ask for the day parking for Day Cruise passengers. Park, get your ticket and board. Reservations not necessary for foot passengers, but still a good idea.
If you are coming from the west (say Yarmouth), take exit 26 from Highway 101. The exit dumps you in a traffic circle, which you have to go past two exits to reach NS-303. Once safely on NS-303 follow it north, after 2.3 km it makes a left at Victoria Street. At the 4.0 km mark you will reach Raquette Road. Continue straight through on NS-303, now called Shore Road, until at the 7.7 km mark from NS-101, you reach the ferry terminal. Ask for the day parking for Day Cruise passengers. Park, get your ticket and board. Reservations not necessary for foot passengers, but still a good idea.
Location Map of the Digby ferry dock
The MV Fundy Rose takes only 2 hours and 15 minutes in peak season and 2 hours 30 minutes in off season to make the crossing. Great for travelling, no as good for birding. The old ferries used to take considerably longer, providing more opportunities for birding. Birds flying in the opposite direction of ferry travel pass quickly. The views are also much more restricted than in the old days. Presently, you can chose from the stern observation area or utilize the open side decks on either port or starboard. It is wise to check for favorable weather and dress appropriately. It can be cooler than you expect and sunscreenis a good idea.
You can make the crossing as a foot passenger and return the same day. Unfortunately, in off season, mid-October through March, you must pick your day carefully, as most days do not have same day return. The one-way same day cost (ask for Day Cruise Fare) offseason was $48 (adults 14-59), $43 (seniors 60+ or students with ID) or $31 (youth (6-13) in 2023. These offseason crossings leave Digby at 11:00 AM and leave Saint John on the return leg at 2:15 PM. Peak season schedule has Day Cruises available every day leaving Digby at 11:00 AM and Saint John on the return leg at 2:15 PM. The cost (ask for Day Cruise Fare) in peak season was $58 (adults 14-59), $48 (seniors 60+ or students with ID) or $43 (youth (6-13) in 2023. Check the Bay Ferries Limited website at: ferries.ca/nb-ns-ferry/schedule/.
Map of the Digby - Saint John Ferry Route
Site Description and Birding Information: This 72 km ferry route between Digby, NS and Saint John, NB runs almost entirely in Annapolis County on the Nova Scotian side of the Bay of Fundy. It starts in Digby County, but after the first 1.7 km, it is straddling the county line heading out the narrow opening to the sea called Digby Gut. Leaving the Gut, it veers left a bit into Digby County, then plows straight to Saint John harbour. At around the 17 km mark from the dock, the ferry slowly passes into Annapolis County. From about 15 to 19 kms the ferry route and county line are close enough to the same thing that county listers can count in Annapolis County off the east side and Digby County off the west side, or both if the bird flies across the ferry's path. Before and after the two lines diverge, birds may be harder to assign to a county for a few kilometres. For each 5 kilometres the ferry route will have moved about 400 metres to the east or west of the county line (depending on your direction of travel), or 500 m per 5 km after the 25 km mark. After Mid-bay, about 37 km from the dock, when the ferry passes into New Brunswick, it is around 2.5 km east of the Digby County line. Those who use the eBird hotspot for the Nova Scotian portion of the ferry trip will find all their sightings being attributed to their Digby County list. County listers who use eBird (and there are many), will want to end their Digby County lists at the Annapolis County line and vice versa on the return trip.
The Digby - Saint John ferry: Fundy Rose
The best time for using the ferry as a pelagic birding platform is the summer through fall period, because the variety of seabirds possible is much greater. Greater and Sooty Shearwaters, with the odd Manx and maybe a Cory's if you are really lucky, are present, along with Wilson's Storm-Petrels and a few Leach's Storm-Petrels. You may even be lucky enough to see Northern Fulmars, Parasitic or Pomarine Jaegers and, rarely, Skuas. Several alcids are regularly seen: Common Murre, Razorbill, Black Guillemot, and Atlantic Puffin. Late summer and fall bring flocks of Phalaropes, both Red and Red-necked. Northern Gannets are often seen. Winter provides opportunites for getting alcids, like Razorbills and Dovekies, as well as Black-legged Kittiwakes.
Great Shearwater, Bay of Fundy, August 2014 - Larry Neily
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