Wednesday 30 April 2014

Attu East Back in the Spotlight

As the West coast of Newfoundland is now infamously enjoying the stench of several beached and decaying whales, we on the East coast are enjoying hundreds upon hundreds of icebergs and what is one of the largest incursions of Icelandic/European birds to Newfoundland in recent memory.

Today the first NORTHERN WHEATEARS were found. 3 reported from one spot in the East end of St. John's seemed so unlikely but I got the message just as I had finished biking home so I decided to jump back on and go the 4km East. As soon as I put down my bike a bird flushed in front of me showing the diagnostic white tail with black tip. Wow. It was true. Wheatears have arrived!!!

Birders started arriving soon afterwards and got to see this rarity. This is a full 2-3 weeks ahead of when the Labrador breeding Northern Wheatears start to show up in Newfoundland & Labrador from Africa. In other words, these are Iceland/Greenland breeding Northern Wheatears. If a wheatear, a passerine, can make it across the atlantic surely wagtails and pipits can too?!

The count of EUROPEAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS is currently at 92, the 4 BLACK-TAILED GODWITS continue to be seen in Renews & St. Paul's, and the ROSS'S GULL was in Torbay today for the second day in a row.

Every day continues to outdo the previous day.

Finally, after a 5 and a half month hiatus, Northeast winds are back and Newfoundland is regaining its status as Attu East.

It all started on April 25 when photos of 2 Black-tailed Godwits in Renews were sent to Bruce, everyone was there early the next morning. Bruce and co. were there first and within 1 minute of moving on from the godwits to start the search for other euro vagrants they had found the first European Golden-Plover.

How many Northern Wheatears will be seen? 3 Northern Wheatears in an unlikely spot (Cuckold's cove) can only possibly be the first of many more to be found. Will enough of them arrive here to convince at least one pair to stay behind and breed like they did in 2001?

Here's a map of all the European Golden-Plovers that were reported up until yesterday (April 29):

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Here's a list of the European Golden-Plovers found so far:

1 -> 3 -> 6        Renews
3                       Cape Race
6                       Airport
2                       Gros Morne
2                       Pouch Cove
1                       Satellite Rd (Pouch Cove)
1                       Goulds (Cox's Lane)
3->6->18          Goulds (Raymond's Bridge)
2                       Ferryland
5                       Lumsden
3                       Cape Freels
3                       St. Lewis (Labrador)
22->24             Bay Bulls
4                       Outer Cove
3                       St. Shott's
10                     Trepassey

Total = 92 (minimum count)

Check back at these links for more updates, photos, and insight into the ongoing invasion:!forum/nf.birds

1 of 20+ icebergs visible from the same location as todays wheatear - bigger and more impressive ones are on the way ;)