Sunday 20 April 2014

Good Birds = Good Times

On Friday I joined local birders Peter Shelton, Edmund Hayden, and Lancy Cheng to do the southern shore loop. The day got continuously better with plenty of new year birds (and life birds for some of us!) and lots of new migrants.

One of our targets were 2 Blue-winged Teal found by Bruce Mactavish and co last weekend. I didn't think they'd stick around for a whole week - but apparently they did!
They were surprisingly tame allowing us to study their plumage in detail:

While watching the ducks I noticed a small cormorant swimming around about 30m offshore. It was the first Double-crested Cormorant (DCCO) for the season! Although I've seen hundreds of thousands of DCCOs, it was nice to see my first one for the year.

Our next stop was at Point La Haye where we picked up some lifers for Peter:

It's always exciting birding with people who have a higher chance of seeing a lifer! It's an extra motivation to scan the surroundings more thoroughly and work harder to find target species.

At St. Shott's we had our only Snow Bunting for the day - I was expecting to see a lot more during the day but I suppose they've spread out now that most of the snow has melted?

We also had what I believe is a hybrid Glaucous X Great Black-backed Gull:

In the afternoon we found our first Greater Yellowlegs for the year in Portugal Cove South:

And in Renews there were a couple more:
Hearing these guys give their obnoxious calls for the first time in the year was nostalgic, and bitter sweet knowing that I'll be sick of it within a few weeks!

The biggest surprise of the day was this American Bittern - a very early record for Newfoundland, but not the earliest ever! It was in a roadside ditch just North of Renews:

I don't think I've ever had the opportunity to watch a bittern hunt before. This guy was successful in catching 2 small fish during the short time that we watched it:

On Saturday I joined a non-birding friend for a hike near Point Lance. During the ride down we saw a lynx cross the road, and then stop to watch us for 30 seconds! It was my first lynx I've seen in Newfoundland and by far the best look I've ever gotten... Unfortunately my camera was in the trunk at the time so I have no evidence of its existence :(

On our way home we came across this Red Crossbill: