This doesn't mean, by any means, that our trip was a failure. What it may have lacked in sun-kissed vistas it certainly made up for in atmosphere. Here, for example, is a view of the harbour at White Point, almost at the tip of the peninsula, with all the classic ingredients: leaden skies, rocky headlands, grey seas and brightly coloured fishing boats.
There were times, mind you, when the fog lifted, the rain stopped, and the scenery took pride of place:
Our circuit of the Cabot Trail Highway (which we took counterclockwise, contrary to the direction suggested by the guidebooks) repeatedly brought us out to rugged headlands…
...where I could scan the sea for birds and marine mammals.
There were, of course, gulls aplenty – mostly American Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus smithsonianus) but with a mixture of Greater Black-backed Gulls (Larus marinus) among them.
These are Greater Black-backs – an adult and a pale-headed immature.
Fishing boats heading out to sea were sure to attract a crowd of gulls.
On a few occasions, I picked out Northern Gannets (Morus bassanus) flying out to sea.
Once, I had a splendid time watching a mob of these magnificent birds plunge over and over again, with great force, into the waters below. Their dives may take them as deep as 22 m beneath the surface – or occasionally, as shown in one study of Australian Gannets (M. serrator) in New Zealand, end in collisions and broken necks.
Occasionally, the bulbous snout of a male Grey Seal (Halichoerus grypus) broke the surface.
The female Grey Seal is a much sleeker creature.
I had hoped to be able to drag Eileen, Cynthia and Lau along on a whale-watching expedition, but the weather would not permit it. We had to make do, instead, with a view of a Common Minke Whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) breaking the surface, rather astonishingly close to shore, at White Point. This distant photo was the only one I was able to get.
I had better luck with a (presumed) mother and baby Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), though admittedly even these are heavily-cropped shots of fairly distant animals.
Other than whales, seals, and dolphins, our only encounter with a really large mammal was a sighting of this cow Moose (Alces alces), which, although semiaquatic, differs from the truly marine mammals in being, at times, a highway traffic hazard.
As often happens, the weather was best just as we were about to leave. At least that did allow us beautiful views of Pillar Rock Beach, in the southwestern corner of Cape Breton Highlands National Park...
And it allows me to end my account of our our foggy journey around Cape Breton with a view of the coast north of Chéticamp that shows, astonishingly, a bit of blue sky.