As any birder reading this blog would know, the “new year” rings in more than just cheer and some tired old resolutions … for many of us, it means a fresh start and a new “year list”. I have to admit that I haven’t actually kept a year list for a good while now (especially now that I have a young family and less time to go birding), but I still get that urge on January 1 to get up early and go out of my way to see all the species I can – starting with the rare ones that have lingered into winter and might be hard to see later on.
There are a few notables on that list already in 2013 … including the PINK-FOOTED GOOSE that was originally discovered on the outskirts of St. John’s in mid-November and a more recent TOWNSEND’S WARBLER that was discovered on Boxing Day (Dec 26) and still being seen regularly as of today.
After sneaking away from my sleepy family early New Year’s morning, I managed to catch up with the Townsend’s Warbler feeding quietly in a patch of conifers along the lower Waterford River. Amazingly, this is the 16th record of this west coast species in Newfoundland – the 13th for St. John’s and (most amazingly) the 11th for this little river valley stretching just 2-3 kilometres!! I then spent the rest of the morning scouring the Goulds where the Pink-footed Goose had been spotted sporadically between November 19 and December 10, only to find out that it was relocated two days later (today!) at a duck pond in Bowring Park. Most ironic was that I had been at the park myself just yesterday with the kids, visiting a nearby playground and turning down an adamant request by my daughter Emma to go see the ducks just a 5-10 minute stroll away.
Other local rarities around the city include a late Yellow-breasted Chat visiting a couple gardens along the lower Rennies River, a Northern Mockingbird frequenting the same street, and Pine Warblers reported at both the lower Waterford River and a neighbourhood bordering Quidi Vidi Road. A report of six Snow Geese feeding on a lawn in Salmonier, Burin on January 1 marked a very unusual arrival of a species reported less than annually in the province and usually in smaller numbers.
Happy New Year! 2013 is off to a roaring start …