Saturday 5 October 2013

Seawatch @ Cape St Francis

I took a gamble this morning and drove to Cape St. Francis (NE corner of the Avalon Peninsula) after some strong West winds that shifted towards NW overnight. I was hoping for a bit of visibility, and maybe a few shearwaters. While driving there conditions weren't looking promising. The fog was inland, and Torbay had very little visibility...

Thankfully I didn't turn around because the conditions were perfect at the cape.

This photo makes it look much clearer than it was:

The seabird show was one of the best I've experienced in Newfoundland. A constant stream of shearwaters the entire 2 hours I was there. Mostly Sooty Shearwaters at first, but by the end there was a noticeable push of Great Shearwaters. But I wanted something different...

An adult Pomarine Jaeger motored through when a small rain cloud passed over, and then less than 10 minutes later a monster of a bird rounded the cape: it was a huge beast, with a body seemingly too large to be capable of flight, and with white wing flashes that were blinding! It was obvious that it was a Skua. I watched the bird for ~20s while it quickly flew further away. But I got on it early enough to get a decent look at its back. It was a fairly dark bird, with a tinge of brown/red on the back. A memory that will forever be seared into my mind.

Having never seen a Skua, I was not well prepared for this bird, but considering the time of year and the details I saw I am pretty confident it was a Great Skua. Photos were near impossible with my Canon superzoom camera, so I focused on looking at the bird rather than taking photos.

Other highlights included 2 small flocks of Red Phalaropes being blown around in the wind, and 6 Northern Fulmars.

On the way back to the road, I stopped in an open grassy area - Indigo Bunting was on my hit list (not a terribly rare bird, but one I still haven't seen in NL). The only bird I saw was a passerine with a light brown back, white on the inner tail, with black at the tip. My first thought was Snow Bunting - but something wasn't right. It didn't take long to confirm that it was a Northern Wheatear - my 2nd one this Autumn!

On the way back home I stopped into Torbay and found the juv. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron roosting in a tree. It's been here for a couple weeks, and was my second one for NL:

Last weekend was unseasonably warm and brought out many dragonflies. I'm pretty sure these two are Common Green Darners (any thoughts?). Apparently they're vagrants in NL - but they have been quite common this season:

An Orange-crowned Warbler from earlier in the week: