Sunday, 31 January 2016

Sabine's Gull - Jan 31st

The last day of the month brought with it a great surprise in the form of a 1st winter Sabine's Gull at one of my favourite birding locations: St. Vincent's.

I'm not sure how many records there are for this species from land, but my guess would be in the 20-30 range. Which is surprising considering that it's a regular migrant offshore in both the spring and fall. A few of the local old-timers hadn't seen this species yet - thankfully it remained in the area for the entire day allowing many of the local birders to see it.

In comparison to kittiwakes, notice the shorter wings. Some of the field guides mention a longer tail, not something I noticed today in the field.

I assume the grey mantle indicates new feathers? They contrasted with the old browner feathers of the inner-wing.

Aged as a 1st winter by the black tail band, and the brown colour to the inner-wing.
Sabine's Gulls are one of few two-year gulls.

Video here:

Can you see the birders?

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Some Memories from 2015

Another year of birding in Newfoundland has come and gone!
In total there were over 275 species of birds seen on the island this year, which is about average for us.

The year started off rather mild with little snow accumulation until February.

The following photo was taken in early February! Quidi Vidi lake, usually frozen by early January was opened up after a warm spell - note the lack of snow on the ground...

A Brown Thrasher was a pleasant surprise in February:

This Pine Warbler managed to survive the winter thanks to the generosity of local birders.

Spring in Newfoundland doesn't really exist, but for us it does signify the arrival of thousands of eiders driven further South by the approaching sea ice.

Finally Spring arrived and birds began their long journeys northward through Newfoundland:

As soon as the local breeders returned I was off to Germany for a month of school, and of course birding.

In August I finally spent some time studying the local moths. 2016 promises to be better ;)

A White-winged Tern in August was easily the highlight of the year for many of the local birders.

The first half of fall migration in Newfoundland involves time spent in the alder patches looking for small gems from further afield.

This Little Stint was seen by a few lucky birders - another amazing record for the island:

I crossed the province in October for an 8-week placement in the town of Port-aux-Basques. Weekends allowed me to explore the local birding hotspots.

One of my favourite birds, the Harlequin Duck, is a regular species in this area:

Then the finches started to arrive - this has probably been the best finch Autumn/Winter in several years. Redpolls were the first species to arrive in large numbers:

And White-winged Crossbills weren't far behind:

Winter is now back and we have another year to look forward to :-)

Happy New Year!

Sunday, 27 December 2015

St. John's Christmas Bird Count Results

The St. John's CBC was held yesterday, December 26th for the 50th straight year.
A total of 78 species have been reported which is above the 10 year average of 72 species. However, only 19500 individual birds were recorded, down from our 10 year average of 25000 - likely reflecting the fact that there are many birds in the woods eating the abundant cone and berry crop of 2015.

Highlights were a Northern Mockingbird, and 5 species of warbler including this Yellow-breasted Chat:

Finches were well represented with 7 species, including our highest ever count of Am. Goldfinch (543).

42 Red Crossbills were reported, our 5th highest count ever. Presumably they are from the "Newfoundland" sub-species.

Song Sparrows continue to adapt to life on the Avalon with our highest yet count of 24 individuals. It was only 25 years ago that they became a regular species on this count!

Thanks to the 35+ people who took part in this years count!