Sunday 30 August 2015

A Blue-winged Warbler!

Free days to bird will be numbered for me for the remainder of the Autumn season, so when I learned yesterday that I didn't have to be at the hospital today I quickly made the decision to be on the Cape Shore of the Avalon by sunrise.

The focus was shorebirds and warblers. With almost two hours of warbling behind my by 8:15 with very few individuals (<30) seen, I pulled into the gravel pit just North of Branch without high hopes. I was surprised to note many warblers flitting about before I could stop the car. For whatever reason I immediately thought about Blue-winged Warblers. Sure enough one popped out almost immediately!

The dusky cap connecting with the nape confirms that this bird is a first year - not surprising!

This was my first Blue-winged Warbler for Newfoundland. Now just waiting for one with golden wings!

My first ever photograph of a Spotted Sandpiper - I noticed this hole in my photo albums when trying to compare juvenile Spotted Sandpipers with the Common Sandpiper of Europe. There are very subtle differences between the two species. It's probably crazy of me to wish for one here especially considering the few records in Iceland and Azores islands...

A family of Foxes was nice. Mom kept her distance as the two pups cautiously approached me with curiosity.

One of many thousands of Northern Gannets at the Cape St. Mary's breeding site:

The juveniles are coming along and are beginning to stretch their wings.

Atlantis Fritillary - a common species of butterfly in open country:

Magnolia Warbler - in the fall this species of warbler is very difficult to age. The adults and juveniles look very similar. Except for very dull first year birds they shouldn't be aged in the fall.

Monday 24 August 2015

Some last photos from Texel

A collection of some of the images that never made it on my previous 3 blog posts. I took these while on Texel island, Holland earlier this month.

Somebody is watching:

Lots of gulls trolled the ferry as it made its crossing looking for handouts. They were very tame, coming within centimetres of the passengers!

Eurasian Kestrel - will Newfoundland get one in my life time?

An adult Eurasian Osytercatcher, with 2 younger ones:

Common Redshank:

Common Ringed Plover - even though it's in juvenile plumage the facial mask of these birds is noticeably different in the field and does pop out for me after closely studying so so many Semipalmated Plovers. Hopefully that image will appear in my view within the next few weeks...

Friday 21 August 2015

Shorebirds and a Tern

I came back from a 4-day canoeing trip yesterday only to learn that there had been a White-winged Tern found near St. John's. After a rushed drive back I was happy to see the bird for myself:

The canoe trip didn't involve much dedicated birding - we followed the Ragged Harbour river downstream to the Ragged Harbour community.

Check out this time lapse I made of the sunset and rising tide from one of our campsites:

The nearby community of Musgrave harbour was a great spot for shorebirds. One highlight was a juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper:

Juvenile Short-billed Dowitchers always excite me with their colourful orange plumage:

A Hudsonian Godwit was an unexpected find for August - I made sure to see the dark underwings to prove that it wasn't the rarer but very similar looking Black-tailed Godwit:

A sick Black-legged Kittiwake offered me my best view yet of this species while I was studying two nearby dowitchers.

Thursday 13 August 2015

Texel Island - The Shorebirds/Waders

During my week on Texel island in the Netherlands at the beginning of this month I was excited to see tens of thousands of shorebirds - involving at least 25 species. None were lifers for me, but I was still excited to have the opportunity to see so many providing a chance to become familiar with them in various plumages, lighting conditions, and at varying distances.

A distinctive species is the Pied Avocet:

Common Greenshanks are similar to our yellowlegs - but they're very easy to separate in flight due to the white patch on their back (similar to that of a dowitcher).

Eurasian Curlews were surprisingly common:

European Golden-Plovers - despite being familiar with Pacific vs. Euro Golden-Plover identification I was unable to find the Pacific GP that was on the island throughout my week there.

Ruddy Turnstones were common on the manmade break walls:

The sub-species of Dunlin seen in the Nethernlands represents a different sub-species than that found in North America. It has a noticeably shorter bill, and typically retains its breeding plumage for part of it's southbound migration - whereas our Dunlin usually moult most of their breeding plumage on the breeding grounds or nearby.

Common Ringed Plover - many of these! Have been trying to find one in Newfoundland this past week - no success, yet!

Common Snipe - I was happy to see at least 10 snipe that were out in the open and close enough to study. Nice to know that all 10 had the expected tertial pattern for this species.

Bar-tailed Godwits were exceptionally common - a quarter were still in their full orange breeding plumage, a quarter were in their winter plumage, and a half were somewhere in between the two.


More Bar-tailed Godwits! I did see a few Black-tailed Godwits (maybe 100 in total), but that paled in comparison to the 10 000+ Bar-tailed Godwits on the island!

Saturday 8 August 2015

August 8th Pelagic

On my first day back in Newfoundland I had the opportunity to join Ian Jones on a sea birding excursion between Petty Harbour & Cape Race. After doing the 6 hour round trip and getting great views of many seabirds, we made short time of catching our limit of 15 cod for our 3 person group.

Here's our route:

The day started off slow with very little action most of the way towards Cape Race. As soon as we passed Cappahayden the shearwater numbers quickly picked up. We never found any feeding frenzies, or massive flocks. But there were regular flocks of 50-100 sitting on the water.

Great Shearwater was the most common species of shearwater we saw. In total we probably saw 1000.

One of the main highlights was having a Northern Fulmar investigating our boat and begging for handouts: 

Manx Shearwaters were the least common of the 3 shearwater species that we saw - we probably saw between 8 & 12. But they seem to be the most wary of approaching boats. They often flew away before we could slow down and train our cameras on them, while the Great & Sooty Shearwaters remained.

Sooty Shearwaters were not nearly as common as Great Shearwaters - totalling probably about 50 birds.

Most of the shearwaters were sitting on the water in the area of Cape Race.

The light house with the usual skeets loitering around back:

Gray Seal:

Our 2nd biggest cod:

These fillets are 50cm long!