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The archipelago’s main visitors are the many species of birds that populate its landscapes of land and sea, dunes and lagoons, cliffs and hills. More than 300 species of migratory sea and land birds have been recorded there, including a hundred or so nesting species. Binoculars at the ready!
This thin 12km strip connecting Langlade Island (also known as Petite Miquelon) to Grande Miquelon forms a unique landscape of sand dunes and peat hags, where savannah sparrow and horned lark frolic overhead. A few species also nest here, like the least sandpiper, snipe, semipalmated sandpiper and, since the 1980s, the piping plover, an endangered species with beautiful sandy plumage.
A few hundred metres from the shore, the Grand Colombier nature reserve is a true sanctuary: this bitesize island (just 1.2km long) with cropped vegetation is home to a significant proportion of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon’s migratory birds. It is the only place in the archipelago where puffins nest, and also the only French breeding site for Leach's storm petrel. Common murre thrive here, as do razorbill. And the icing on the cake: you can sometimes see humpback and finback whales and dolphins swimming by out at sea.
To the south of Miquelon, the aquatic plants in the Grand Barachois lagoon (9km²) attract all kinds of waterfowl, including American black ducks and, between autumn and spring, common goldeneye and greater scaup. At low tide, when the blueish waters recede, it is also the perfect place for watching grey seals and harbour seals, who calve their young there between late May and early June.
In the extreme north-west of the archipelago, the Cape of Miquelon is its most spectacular location, and not only because of its grandiose clifftop setting, where nesting gulls look out over the sea. At the Cap du Nid à l’Aigle (Eagle’s Nest Cape), it’s boom time for birds of prey. Ornithologists have recorded bald eagles, as well as sharp-shinned hawk and merlin.
Wild and all but uninhabited, the archipelago’s largest island (216km²) has just a single village! It comes as no surprise then that its coastline is home to myriad species of bird. In springtime, out west, be sure to catch the arrival of thousands of Eider, large migratory birds with their sought-after down, and red-necked grebe. In the east, the Etang de Mirande pond is the preferred playground of Red-breasted merganser with their ruffled little black heads.