Note: The information presented below has been extracted from our formal General Information for this tour. It covers topics we feel potential registrants may wish to consider before booking space. The complete General Information for this tour will be sent to all tour registrants and of course supplemental information, if needed, is available from the WINGS office.
ENTERING CANADA: U.S. citizens will need a valid passport to enter Canada and return to the U.S. Non-U.S. citizens will need a valid passport and may need tourist visas. Consult your nearest U.S. and Canadian consulates for details. Canadian citizens should carry proof of citizenship in the form of a passport or birth certificate. US citizens must bring proof of citizenship (a passport is now required – any other picture ID such as a driver’s license is no longer accepted).
Your passport, as a general rule, should be valid for at least six months after the date the tour ends. It is always a good idea to take photocopies of your passport and air ticket with you when traveling abroad. They can prove invaluable in helping you get replacements if your original documents are lost or stolen. You should pack the photocopies separately from the originals.
Citizens of other countries may need a visa and should check their nearest Canadian embassy. If required by the embassy or visa-granting entity, WINGS can provide a letter for you to use regarding your participation in the tour.
Typically on the return you will clear U.S. customs actually in Canada (e.g., Toronto, Montreal, or Halifax), or in Newark, New Jersey, if your flight takes you directly there.
COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. State Department background notes on Canada at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2089.htm.
HEALTH: Winter trips have no important health requirements. Sun off snow can be dazzling and we suggest sun glasses. Adequate cold weather clothing is essential for comfort although it is unlikely that temperatures will be so low that frostbite is a major concern. Ears, feet and hands are the most likely parts of the body to be affected and we suggest a wool hat (or equivalent) that covers the ears, warm gloves and snow boots worn loosely enough to permit free circulation. Further clothing suggestions are included below.
SMOKING: We request that you do not smoke in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a non-smoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, we ask that you do so well away and downwind from the group. If any lodge, accommodation or location where the group is staying or is gathered has a more restrictive smoking policy than WINGS’ policy, the more restrictive policy will prevail.
CLIMATE: Overnight lows could reach the single digits (F) but temperatures in the teens and 20s are more normal. Daily highs are likely to be in the 20s or 30s, but wind chill can make it feel considerably colder. Snow and/or rain are likely during the course of the tour. At this time of the year the jet stream passes over Newfoundland, and Atlantic storms are frequent. Travel delays are frequent at this time of the year both getting into and/or out of St. John’s.
PACE OF THE TOUR: The pace of this tour is relaxed. At this time of year at this northern latitude the sun rises relatively late (approximately 7:30 am). Most of our birding is done in close proximity to St. John’s, but on at least one occasion we may have to drive as much as an hour and a half to reach our first birding stop of the day, so we’ll rise early enough to factor in driving time. The sun sets relatively early in the evening (a little before 5:00 p.m.) so our days in the field will not seem especially long and we should be able to turn in early enough each night to afford a good night’s sleep. Breakfasts each day will be sit down affairs, while lunches will most often be taken in fast food restaurants or small cafés. Barring unforeseen circumstances, suppers will be relaxed sit-down affairs in nice restaurants in St. Johns.
Much of our birding will be done from or very near the vehicle(s) and more time is spent in the vehicles than on most tours. We will try to get out and walk when the opportunity presents itself. We will rotate seats in the vehicle(s) on a daily basis so everyone will have the opportunity to bird from every seat. When not in the vehicle, with few exceptions, birding will be done from plowed roads and walkable trails, almost always near the vehicle itself. Walking will be gentle along plowed roads and trails. Any walks through snow will be short and will always be optional.
The main controlling element on this tour is the weather which often changes drastically from day to day. Obviously, we won’t be doing much birding if there is a blizzard. It is essential that you bring gear which will keep you warm and dry.
ACCOMMODATION: While in St. John’s, we’ll stay at the Hometel, a most comfortable downtown establishment at the base of Signal Hill and near some of St.John’s best restaurants. All rooms have a single Queen bed and there are no elevators in the two and three story units.
FOOD: WINGS tours are all-inclusive, and no refunds can be issued for any tour meals participants choose to skip. While our restaurants and ground agents make every effort to ensure the comfort of all participants, please note that not all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Many restaurants offer set menus and are unable to accommodate all special requests within a group. Thus, clients with significant food allergies or special dietary needs should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs can, regretfully, not be accommodated. Our tours are carefully scheduled to ensure the best possible birding experience. Meal times can generally not be adjusted; any participants who need to eat earlier or later than the times scheduled for the group should bring supplemental food with them.
TRANSPORTATION: We’ll use mini-vans for transport as larger vehicles are not at present available.
Updated: 12 February 2016