Wednesday 6 November 2013

Port aux Basques - Days 8 to 11

Sunday I had planned to focus on passerines. At this time of year, in Newfoundland, much of the passerine birding is centred around finding junco flocks and hoping something different is travelling with them. After an hour of finding very little I went to my fallback of seawatching. It was frustrating. The first bird I saw was a tern. Any tern at this time of year should be closely studied to make sure it's not a Forster's Tern, after getting a 5 second look in my scope I opted to try to take some photos - I didn't want a repeat of the previous days highlight not being photographed. It was a terrible decision because not only could I not find the bird on my camera screen, I couldn't refind the bird after failing to photograph it.

While seawatching at Cape Ray several hawks flew by, including 2 Rough-legged Hawks. Both can be seen in this photo (crops focused on both birds are below):

 Dark morph:

 Light morph (juvenile?):

My first Surf Scoters for the trip were nearby as well:

On Tuesday after finishing up a little early I did a short walk in the woods, and came across 2 small flocks of Bohemian Waxwings. Hopefully there'll be some mega huge flocks of these in St. John's this winter, although it seems unlikely considering the berry crop everywhere else...

Shrike, an uncommon bird on the island, only my 3rd one for the province - this one's a juvenile:

Today, while biking to a clinic I noticed a male goldeneye diving in a sheltered bay close to my house. It was my first male goldeneye in the area, so I decided to take a closer look at it. I was surprised to see that it was a Barrow's Goldeneye and not the expected Common Goldeneye!

Note that the back has much more black than a Common Goldeneye, the scapulars have limited white, the steep forehead without a peaked crown, and the facial crescent extends up above the eye. Another, not often mentioned, field mark is the black vertical spur that extends down in the flanks - that pretty much rules out a Common X Barrow's Goldeneye hybrid.

Barrow's Goldeneye is one of those species that if you're second guessing yourself about the ID, it probably is a Common Goldeneye, but once you see a Barrow's Goldeneye there's no doubt about it!

In Newfoundland, Barrow's Goldeneye is regular in the west coast, but quite rare on the East coast.

Not that I've picked one out in flight, but a good field mark to separate COGO from BAGO in flight is the amount of white on the scapulars:

Thankfully this bird didn't fly very far away, so hopefully I'll get to know him a little better over my remaining few days in the area.