Sunday 13 October 2013

Cape Race Turkey Breakfast

On Saturday I joined Bruce Mactavish and John Pratt to bird the Cape Race road and Renews. The number of birds was noticeably lower than previous weeks in the area. Nevertheless, with 95% of Savannah Sparrows gone, there was a decent concentration of vagrant birds.

While wandering around the grass at Cape Race we flushed up 1 Common Yellowthroat, 1 Dickcissel, and 1 Clay-colored Sparrow was nearby.

Clay-colored Sparrows are annual fall vagrants in NL with most being found between Oct and Nov

This immature Northern Goshawk was seen along the road several times:

By 9am we were at Cliff Doran's place next to the lighthouse. He had turkey breakfast, and multiple cakes ready for the visiting birders! What an awesome guy!

After stuffing ourselves and sharing our sightings, we made our way to the famous "Hooded Warbler tuck". It is a completely unassuming location, but has a track record of turning up unusual rarities over the years, particularly Hooded Warblers!

We hadn't been seeing many passerines in any of the tuckermore (stunted trees along the coast), so hopes weren't high when we entered into the small area. Less than 10 meters in, I noticed a bird flitting around, I got a brief glimpse of a yellowish bird, with noticeable streaks on the flanks, and a grey head. Prairie Warbler (PRAW) was on my mind, but the grey head didn't seem to fit. The bird quickly disappeared into the trees. Any yellow bird at this time of year is bound to be something good, so we all went in closer for the kill. After some pishing it popped and flew right up to us, revealing it's ID:
This 1st winter male PRAW, was my first ever fall PRAW
A few seconds later and another Prairie Warbler joined it!
This PRAW appears to be a 1st winter female.
The only other bird we heard/saw in the area, despite searching most of the area, was a Golden-crowned Kinglet. Only in Newfoundland!

On our way home, we stopped in Renews where we saw an adult Sharp-shinned Hawk unsuccessfully chase a medium-sized peep, and then come very close to catching a Song Sparrow.

The previous two weeks had brought a flood of Northern Wheatears to the Avalon Peninsula. Prior to Saturday I had already found 3 on my own, 2 of which promptly disappeared shortly after I discovered them. We knew there would be Wheatears around on Saturday. Bruce, flushed one at Cape Race, which quickly disappeared, so I wasn't able to see it. I wasn't worried - there was a good chance there would be more! Sure enough, while driving by the bay in Renews we noticed a Northern Wheatear staring us down, after I managed to take a few photos of the bird, it vanished just like so many others. How many of them are on the Avalon right now!?

There are usually 2-4 Northern Wheatears found every year on the island. About 10 have been found in the past 3 weeks, all of which have been 1st winter birds, and likely result from strong N/NW winds that have stretched from Greenland and Labrador to Eastern Newfoundland.