Sunday 1 June 2014

The 2014 Icelandic Invasion

To non-birders it's hard to explain the saga the spring of 2014 will leave behind. I compare it to Toronto Maple Leafs fans. Every year they have high hopes that their team will win the Stanley Cup, but usually they're lucky if they get to see their team play 5 games in the playoffs. Watching their team win the cup simply doesn't happen. Similarly, the number and diversity of icelandic birds was unprecedented and surpassed the dreams of any Newfoundland birders - and we do dream a lot, sometimes that's all that we have to keep us going!!

I may be young and I may go birding every day of the year regardless of the weather or other time commitments, but I never expect to experience what I've experienced in the last month despite intentions to live here until the day I die.


This is a summary of all the Icelandic vagrants that were seen in Newfoundland & Labrador and that I know about. Any birds that were reported but not submitted to eBird by the finders/observers were added to eBird under the "NLRecords" account - this way both the geographical and temporal scale of the influx can be accurately seen and maintained in a publicly accessible database!

The final tally of European Golden-Plovers came to 309! A very impressive sum, but not our record. In 1988 about 350 were recorded.

The first plover was seen on April 26, and the last plovers were seen on May 16.

Click on the orange/blue icons to see how many, what date, and where the plovers were seen:

NOTE: these maps don't seem to work for some people - click this link if it isn't working for you.

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I total of 47 Northern Wheatears were reported:
(I didn't get a chance to put them all on eBird yet, but I made sure to include the ones that weren't on the avalon)

If the map doesn't work for you, try this link.

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The Black-tailed Godwits were easier to keep track of.

The first 2 were found on April 25, and the last one was seen on May 16... until we found that one yesterday (May 31) in Renews!

Try this link if the below map isn't working for you.

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2 Common Redshank - Renews
1 Whimbrel (Eurasian subspecies) - Cape Spear
1 Pink-footed Goose - Bay De Verde
1 Dunlin (schinzii subspecies) - Cape Spear... which I still do plan to write a proper blog post about!
1 Ross's Gull - Torbay

I'll be telling my grandchildren about this in 60 years and they won't believe a word I say. What happened in the last month just doesn't happen. But it did in the spring of 2014.