Friday 29 July 2016

Summer Doldrums?

With plans for a 3+ month (!) trip to criss-cross the country starting next week, I was feeling both excited and worried. Excited for the obvious opportunity to see new birds, meet new people, and learn a lot about our countries birds - but also worried that I will inevitably miss some great birds on the island.
Those worries were easily forgotten about this week with the ROYAL TERN, and SANDWICH TERN. And to further put those worries behind me, we capped it off with a EURASIAN WHIMBREL yesterday (in Renews, no less), after re-finding the Sandwich Tern over 100km away!!

Some pics of the Sandwich Tern:

Lots of discussion about the sub-species ID of this bird are ongoing. My feeling is that it is an "American/Cabot's" Sandwich Tern - however some experts are leaning towards Eurasian. Hopefully will find time to do a proper write up of those thoughts.

Two Common Terns showing off their dark primaries of late summer :

And the Whimbrel... can you figure out which one it is:

The one on the right has a white belly, one of the features of Eurasian Whimbrel.

Thankfully Jared got this in flight show clearly showing the white rump. A great record for late July and a reminder that anything can happen despite the time of year - just gotta get out and look :)

Also saw this fish stuck in a pool at low tide - Atlantic Herring:

Wednesday 27 July 2016

Royal & Sandwich Tern @ Renews!

This morning while listening to a lecture at school I got a text from Bruce Mactavish:
"Royal Tern is at renews."
He had found the islands 6th record of Royal Tern late last week as a fly-by at the Southeast corner of the island - Cape Race. We were expecting it to turn up at Renews but drew a blank over the weekend. This mornings find was exciting news and made me significantly more impatient for the next 1.5 hours to pass!

I arrived late in the morning to find fellow birders, Ken & Frank, with the bird lined up in their scopes. We enjoyed amazing views of the Royal Tern while it waited out the high tide on the few exposed rocks.

Nearby were a few Arctic Terns and several Common Terns provided a great opportunity to study all 3 species of tern. All of a sudden I heard an unusual call coming from the flock of terns flying around the nearby small island. This island is a known colony for both Common & Arctic Terns.
I immediately landed on a larger tern with my binoculars. It had a notably paler back and when it turned I saw an obvious pale tip to its bill - it was the provinces 6th record of SANDWICH TERN!

Listen to a recording of todays bird:

Eventually the Sandwich Tern landed next to the Royal Tern and all four species of tern were standing side-by-side providing and excellent opportunity to study them all.

Check out the eBird list for more photos and recordings.

There's been increased interest in the sub-species identification of Sandwich Tern in recent years as the European and American sub-species are considered possible "splits" in the future. In fact, 2 or 3 Eurasian Sandwich Terns have already turned up in Illinois and Massachusetts. I will work on the sub-species ID of our tern, but right now I'm leaning towards "Cabot's Tern" - the North American sub-species - let me know if you agree or disagree.

Both of these terns were in Renews. This location is one of the best, if not the best, locations for finding rarities on the island. It is the location of 2 of Newfoundlands recent additions to the provincial/island list: Common Shelduck (2014) and Little Stint (2015).

Here's a brief list of the Newfoundland lifers I've seen at Renews over the last few years:

Forster's Tern (~7th record?)
European Golden-Plover
Black-tailed Godwit
Common Redshank (~3rd record?)
Marsh Wren (~20th record?)
Indigo Bunting
Little Egret (10th record)
Little Stint (1st record!)
Royal Tern (6th)
Sandwich Tern (6th)

Can't wait to see what shows up next at this location!

This Variable Darner was among 2 others at Torbay Point recently. A new ode for me: