Fall (September – November) 2010
Fall is always an exciting time for birders in Newfoundland, who look forward to beating the alders for the annual haul of stray migrants and combing the beaches during peak shorebird movements. This year didn’t disappoint, although neither was it an especially remarkable one. The best bird of the fall was missed by birders, with two Fork-tailed Flycatchers being photographed by “non-birders” who took notice of these eye-catching birds. Other potential rarities went unidentified – including a late flycatcher near Cape Race in mid-October and a hummingbird reported from two homes in a St. John’s neighbourhood on November 20. Fortunately, lots of other interesting vagrants did cross our paths …
A drake Wood Duck in Middle cove on September 16 was the only report of the fall. Two or three female-plumaged Gadwall were spotted in St. John’s on October 3, while a lone female was seen on October 25. A pair of American Wigeon was first reported in St. john’s on September 26, while the first report of Eurasian Wigeon for the season was October 11 in Kilbride. On November 4 a flock of 13 wigeon (mostly Eurasian) were seen in the city. Blue-winged Teal are becoming increasingly common in eastern Newfoundland, with numerous reports each season. Up to three were present in Middle Cove September 4-7, one at Cape Freels September 19, five on a flooded field near Logy Bay Rd on September 23, three at Long Beach on September 23, and two in the Goulds on September 24. A lone female Northern Shoveler was seen at Virginia Lake, St. John’s on September 15. Up to three Tufted Ducks reported in St. John’s in early September may have over-summered in the province. The flock increased throughout the fall and a total of 33 were tallied on November 16. An elusive adult male Redhead was photographed in St. John’s on October 23, with two unconfirmed reports in the following weeks. This was only the second record for this species in over a decade. A drake Barrow’s Goldeneye was reported in Corner Brook on November 17. Three Hooded Mergansers (2m 1f) were observed in Middle Cove on September 4, while a lone drake was present at Forest Pond, Goulds from September 28 – October 12. An intriguing report of eight in Stephenville Crossing on October 11 bodes well for the status of this species in the province. A Ruddy Duck was present at Fourth Pond, Goulds from September 23 – October 3.
A notable total of four Red-throated Loons were observed in Biscay Bay on October 14, with single observations from the same area later in the fall. At least three Pied-billed Grebes were reported from the Avalon Peninsula this fall. One was present at Long Pond in St. John’s from September 20 – October 3, while another (?) was at Kent’s Pond on October 23. A report surfaced from Second Pond in the Goulds on October 11, while another report came from the same location November 16-18. It is unclear if this was the same individual. Another individual was observed near Renews on October 12. Three Horned Grebes were discovered at their usual wintering location in Biscay Bay on October 14.
Thousands of Leach’s Storm Petrels were observed off Cape Spear on September 10. A single Wilson’s Storm Petrel was reported from Kelligrew’s on September 12 – an unusual “from-land” sighting for this species.
Waders put in an average showing this fall. Great Egrets were reported from Branch (October 4), Blackhead (Oct 5-18), Stephenville Crossing (October 10-11) and St Paul’s Inlet (October 30). Cattle Egrets staged a minor influx in late October, with individuals in Bay Bulls from October 23-31, Point May on October 28, and Blaketown from October 28-30. One immature Yellow-crowned Night Heron was present in Middle Cove from September 7-8.
Two interesting but unconfirmed raptor reports came from southwest Newfoundland – a dark-phased Red-tailed Hawk was observed in Cape Ray on September 13, while a possible Turkey Vulture was described eating carrion roadside in Doyles, Codroy Valley on September 14.
At least three American Coots were spotted on ponds around St. John’s throughout the latter half of November. An adult Sandhill Crane was present (but often elusive) in the Goulds/Kilrbide area from September 23 – October 14.
A late Lesser Yellowlegs was photographed at Quidi Vidi lake on October 31. A somewhat late Spotted Sandpiper was at Trepassey on October 15, while two reported from Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador on November 4 were exceptionally late. It was a good fall for Hudsonian Godwit, with up to 16 reported from Cape Freels on September 5 and 18 at Eddies Cove East on October 10. Similarly, 60 Red Knots at St. Paul’s Inlet was a remarkably good number for this imperiled species. A total of four Baird’s Sandpipers were recorded – Cape Spear on September 10, Cape Race on September 23, Goulds on September 24 and Long Beach on October 10. Buff-breasted Sandpipers appeared in unusually high numbers for the second fall in a row. The first of the season was spotted in St. Paul’s Inlet on September 2. At least nine were near Mistaken Point on September 5, while 19 were tallied at the St. Shott’s sod farm on September 6. Six more were observed at St. Paul’s Inlet on September 12, up to three at Cape Freels September 15-19 and a single bird in the Goulds on September 22. A late individual was found at Cape Race from October 15-19. A late Short-billed Dowitcher at Long Beach on October 9 was confirmed from photos. A Wilson’s Phalarope at St. Shott’s on September 6 was the only report of this species for the fall.
Black-headed Gulls put in a solid fall appearance with 9 in Gambo on September 11, 50-75 in Spaniard’s Bay on November 11, and 70+ having arrived in St. John’s by the end of November. Single Bonaparte’s Gulls were observed in Kelligrews on October 5 and St. John’s on October 21, while two were present in St. John’s a few weeks later on November 26. A second-winter Common (Mew) Gull was present in St. John’s from September 20 onwards, and joined by a first- winter individual after November 27. Early juvenile Iceland Gulls were seen at Bear Cove, GNP and Long Beach on October 10. Two adult Yellow-legged Gulls appear to have been present in St. John’s as of September 21, although only one was observed for most of the fall (both were observed on October 14, but not again until December 26).
Mourning Doves staged a notable influx in eastern Newfoundland in late October and early November. A White-winged Dove was discovered in Quidi Vidi Village on November 21 … this species is now an annual visitor to the province. Yellow-billed Cuckoos also showed up in good numbers this fall, with about a dozen reported on the eastern Avalon between September 25 and October 24.
A Snowy Owl sighted near Cape Race on November 2 was the only report of this species for the fall. A Short-eared Owl was observed near Cape Pine on November 1, while another was found with a broken wing at Portugal Cove South on November 15. A Common Nighthawk was observed in Plum Point periodically from September 20 – October 2, while another was seen in Portugal Cove South between the remarkably late dates of October 15-19. A Chimney Swift was reported from Trepassey on October 20 while another was spotted in downtown St. John’s on November 1.
A possible “hummingbird” was vaguely described at a home in Paradise on September 26. A better description, and immensely more exciting, was given of an unknown hummingbird at two houses in the same neighbourhood on November 20. While the identity will never be known, the extremely late date combined with a rash of “southwestern” hummingbirds having been recorded in the northeast during the same period leaves local birders with the feelings that a “big one” was missed.
A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in Trepassey on October 12 was seen feeding in an apple tree with lots of old sapsucker holes, indicating the tree has seen previous visitors of this uncommon species over the years.
Eastern Kingbirds put in several late appearances – Virginia River, St. John’s on September 2, Renews on September 23, and a very late individual near Cape Race (Bristol Cove River) from September 28 – October 5. Both exciting and frustrating were late surfacing photographs of two Fork-tailed Flycatchers – the first at Chapel’s Cove, Conception Bay South on September 19 and the second at Flatrock on September 29. These represent the 3rd and 4th provincial records for this southern vagrant. An unidentified flycatcher, described as “peewee-like”, was observed in a large patch of tucakamore near Cape Race on October 15, but did not cooperate for photographs.
Five species of vireo were observed in eastern Newfoundland this fall. A Blue-headed Vireo was seen at Bear Cove on September 30, while Philadelphia Vireos were found at Trepassey from October 10-15 and Blackhead on October 11. The only report of Warbling Vireo this season was from Cape Spear road on October 4. A Yellow-throated Vireo was observed near Cappahayden on October 19-20, while a White-eyed Vireo was at the same location on October 17. A notably late individual was photographed on Pouch Cove Line on November 7.
A late Barn Swallow was seen in the Long Beach-Cripple cove area (near Cape Race) on October 19-20. The only confirmed Cliff Swallow of the fall was at Long Beach on October 24, however a small group of swallows seen flying in the distance in the same area on October 3 were likely this species, as well.
Surprisingly, the only Blue-grey Gnatcatcher of the season was found on Cape Spear road on September 27.
A lone Northern Wheatear was reported from Cape Spear on September 10, while two were photographed at the same location on September 16. Another wheatear was observed at Cape Race on September 23. Labrador recorded its first ever Eastern Bluebird, with an apparent male that was found and photographed on November 14 in Labrador City. A Gray-cheeked Thrush was observed and photographed at Cape Race on October 19-20, providing the latest provincial record for this species. A Swainson’s Thrush was at Bear Cove on October 3, while another in St. John’s was remarkably late on October 21.Two Northern Mockingbirds were reported – one in Fermeuse on October 23 and another in St. John’s on November 5. Two lingering Gray Catbirds were seen along the Rennies River in St. John’s on September 3-4.
While it was an average year for fall warbler species, there were a number of notable sightings throughout the season. Eleven species were recorded during the month of November (summarized below). Orange-crowned Warblers were reported from Bear Cove on September 30 & October 12 (2), Bear Cove Point Road on October 12, and Trepassey on October 15, 23, and 31. At least two individuals were reported in St. John’s on November 12, 17 and 20. A Nashville Warbler was reported on Bear Cove Point Road September 6-8, while another was seen fleetingly in St. John’s on November 3. The only Chestnut-sided Warbler of the fall was seen on Cape Spear road on September 11, and the only Cape May Warbler reported in eastern Newfoundland was in Bowring Park on October 22. Similarly, the only Blackburnian Warbler was at Cappahyden on October 3, and a Bay-breasted Warbler on Bear Cove Point Road on October 12 provided the first October record for this species in eastern Newfoundland. Single Pine Warblers were observed in Trepassey on October 31, Torbay on November 3 and St. John’s on November 13. Prairie Warblers appeared in good numbers, with reports from Bear Cove Point Road (one on September 6 & three on September 11), Cape Spear road (September 11), near Cape Race (Septembr 23), Trepassey (October 9), Blackhead (October 11 & 19) and St. John’s (October 17, November 4 & 20). A Worm-eating Warbler discovered in Trepassey on October 8 was refound the following day – the first time this species has cooperated for “chasers” in this province. Two potentially different Kentucky Warblers were reported from near Cape Race on September 11 and Cripple Cove on September 23, while another was present in St. John’s for the very late dates of October 23 – November 26. Canada Warblers were reported from Cape Spear road on September 5 and Bear Cove Point Road from September 8-11. Yellow-breasted Chats appeared at Bear Cove Point Road (September 16), Grate’s Cove at the tip of Trinity Bay (September 18) and Bear Cove (October 15).
Orange-crowned Warbler: 2-3 in St. John’s, last reported November 20
Nashville Warbler: St. John’s on November 3
Yellow Warbler: 2 in St. John’s; one present into January!
Yellow-rumped Warbler: 5+ reported
Yellow-throated Warbler: 3 in St. John’s; one present into late December
Pine Warbler: Torbay on November 3; St. John’s on November 13
Prairie Warbler: 1-2 in St. John’s, last reported November 20.
Palm Warbler: St. John’s on November 5
Black & White Warbler: 3+ in St. John’s; at least one present into early December
Kentucky Warbler: St. John’s from October 23 – November 26 !!!!!
Wilson’s Warbler: Ferryland on November 3; Trepassey on November 14; St. John’s from November 17-27.
A Chipping Sparrow was present at Cape Race on October 24, while a Clay-coloured Sparrow had been at the same location on September 25. An elusive but aptly seen Vesper Sparrow was also reported from Cape Race on October 19 – just the 3rd provincial record! Lark Sparrows were seen and photographed in Gander on October 2 and Cappahayden on October 3. A sparrow that was likely an “Ipswich” Savannah Sparrow was spotted several times at Cape Race from October 19-23. The only White-crowned Sparrows observed in eastern Newfoundland this fall were two birds at Cape Race on September 25.
Two Scarlet Tanagers were observed in Newfoundland this season – one at Cape Race from October 19-24 and another in St. Michael’s-Bauline East on November 3. Interestingly, one was found dead in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador on November 6.
Following a record arrival this past spring, a handful of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were reported from across the province his fall, including St. John’s (October 3-5), St. Anthony (Oct 20) and Bear Cove (October 23). A small influx of Blue Grosbeaks saw three individuals reported from the southeast Avalon – Long Beach-Drook (October 14-15), Renews (October 14) and Cappahayden (October 17). Another was photographed in Kilbride on November 17. Approximately a dozen Indigo Buntings were reported from the Avalon Peninsula during October – Cape Spear road (October 9), Blackhead (October 11)), Bear Cove Point Road (October 12), Bear Cove (2 on October 12 & 19 and one on October 23), Mistaken Point (October 15), near Cripple Cove (October 15), and Trepassey (October 3, 12 & 20). Dickcissels showed up at Bear Cove Point Road and Renews on October 12, while others were reported from Trepassey on October 15, Bauline Line on November 7 and Whitbourne on November 13.
Bobolinks were reported from numerous location throughout the fall, echoing an increase in spring sightings earlier this year. A Brown-headed Cowbird was hanging out near Whitbourne from September 1-5, while another was present in Portugal Cove South from September 5-6. There was an unconfirmed report of an Orchard Oriole from Sandy Cove (near Eastport) on October 20, while handfuls of Baltimore Orioles were spotted around the province throughout the fall.