Rarity Round Up (Archives 2013)

ARCHIVED REPORTS FROM 2013

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Wednesday, December 18

It is starting to feel like the depths of winter have descended on Newfoundland already. The entire island is snow-covered and most ponds are frozen (unusual before Christmas in recent years, especially on the Avalon peninsula). Two regular Christmas Bird Counts (Cape Race and Cape St. Mary’s) have been postponed/cancelled since access to key areas are blocked by snow, and recent bird reports are more reminiscent of February than early December!

So, there is little to report in the way of rarities since my last update more than a week ago. Snowy Owl reports continue to trickle in from various locations, but blocked access to Cape Race has made it difficult to ascertain how the numbers there have been faring. Orange-crowned Warblers were reported from Admirals Cove (Ferryland CBC) on December 14 and Cavell Avenue, St. John’s on December 15. The last report of the lingering Great Egret was December 11 and the Virginia’s Warbler has not been seen since December 2  – recent cold snaps likely spelled the end for both individuals. Although gull numbers have occasionally been good on the now-frozen ponds, the Yellow-legged Gull has been elusive (though not doubt still around!). At least three Common Gulls are hanging out in east St. John’s.

Monday, December 9

The obvious highlight of the weekend (at least for the lucky few who saw it!) was a FORSTER’S TERN seen and photographed in Renews in the early morning of December 7. It has not been seen since. This marks ~7th record for Newfoundland, and the second winter (Dec) record. A PURPLE GALLINULE was also discovered, unfortunately dead, in a Clarenville backyard on December 8. There are a handful of December and January records for this otherwise rare species – often of deceased birds.

The story of the last month, however, continues to be the incredible Snowy Owl invasion. An amazing 206 were tallied on Cape Race road on December 8, while 91 were seen in the Cape Pine/St. Shott’s area the day previous. Smaller but notable numbers were reported at other locations on the Avalon, including at least seven around Cape Spear. With questions about the availability of food, the ultimate fate of many of these owls is disconcerting (although similar types of events are a natural part of their population cycle).

The  VIRGINIA’S WARBLER (1st Newfoundland record) has not, to my knowledge, been reported since December 2 and is clearly battling some cold nights the past few days if it is still around. The dark-phased Gyrfalcon was seen at Cape Race as recently as December 8, while the lingering Great Egret continues to be seen at Virginia Lake.

The adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULL was seen by yours truly (and a few others) at Bally Haly Golf Course on December 4.

Tuesday, December 3

“Winter birding” has begun, and the list is off to a slow but steady start. No new rarities have been reported this week, but several have lingered to make the winter list. The  VIRGINIA’S WARBLER (1st Newfoundland record) continues at the same location at the base of the White Hills in east St. John’s, while individual Orange-crowned Warblers have been reported both at that location and on Forest Avenue. The incredible Snowy Owl invasion continues, with nearly 150 reported on the southeast Avalon Peninsula alone on December 1, and multiple reports from various other locations!! The dark-phased Gyrfalcon was seen at Cape Race as recently as December 1, and there appeared to have been two individuals at one point last week.

Notably, the elusive YELLOW-LEGGED GULL was seen and photographed at Quidi Vidi by a visiting birder on November 29.

Other lingering birds include the Great Egret which was spotted at both Virginia Lake and Kent’s Pond on December 1-2, and a female Ruddy Duck at Quidi Vidi (although it, too, has been seen at other locations). Two Common (Mew) Gulls have been seen in St. John’s recently, mostly at Quidi Vidi or in the harbour. Good numbers of other regular winter birds with European origin (i.e. Tufted DuckEurasian Wigeon & Black-headed Gull) are also around St. John’s.

Tuesday, November 26

Where does a week go?!?! While Newfoundland’s first VIRGINIA’S WARBLER continues at the same location at the base of the White Hills in east St. John’s, the main story of the past week has been an invasion of Snowy Owls. The most amazing report was a high (but reportedly conservative) count of 42 along the Cape Race road on the morning of November 23, although a handful have been seen at other expected locations such as Cape Spear. At least three were reported on vessels/platforms in the Grand Banks, several hundred kilometres offshore. The dark-phased Gyrfalcon continued to be seen occasionally near Cape Race up until at least this past weekend.

A Great Egret spotted at both Quidi Vidi and Virginia lakes recently is likely the same individual that spent several weeks in the Logy Bay area. Another large, brown heron-like bird was flushed from the Virginia River just north of Quidi Vidi lake on November 24,but remained unidentified. It may have been a night heron based on description and behaviour, but it has yet to be refound. A possible Virginia Rail was observed briefly when it flushed near Long Beach (Cape Race area) on November 23 – it would have been the first record in well over a decade!

A Clay-coloured Sparrow was discovered frequenting a feeder on Cavell Avenue in east St. John’s on November 22, while a late Yellow Warbler was spotted nearby. Other recent warblers include a continuing Black & White Warbler along the lower Rennies River trail and single Yellow-rumped Warblers at Long Beach and in St. John’s.

Wednesday, November 20

Newfoundland’s first VIRGINIA’S WARBLER continues to be seen sporadically in the same location at the base of the White Hills in east St. John’s (reported as recently as this morning). Other recent warbler included a Palm Warbler in the same vicinity, a Black & White Warbler on the south side of Quidi Vidi Lake, and two Yellow-rumped Warblers near Torbay Road (all in St. John’s). A rather late Blue Grosbeak was seen in a Torbay yard on November 17 but not reported since. **UPDATE – It was reported again on this date, but I have not heard further reports. **

The adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULL has finally been reported again, loafing with other gulls on rooftops in Pleasantville. The dark-phased Gyrfalcon originally reported near Cape Race last weekend was seen again in the same general area as recently as November 18. At least eight Snowy Owls were also reported along the Cape Race road on November 18-19.

Sunday, November 17

Apologies for the belated rarity report — I’ve been too busy chasing a rarity to write about it! Newfoundland’s first VIRGINIA’S WARBLER was discovered at the base of the White Hills in east St. John’s on November 14, and seen sporadically in the same general area as recently as today. Other recent warblers include a Yellow-throated Warbler reported near Pine Bud Place in St. John’s on November 16, an Orange-crowned Warbler in the same general area as the Virginia’s on November 15, and two apparently different Pine Warblers in Trepassey on November 6 & 15.

There have been no recent reports of the PINK-FOOTED GOOSE (9th record for Newfoundland) at Bonavista. The dark-phased Gyrfalcon reported near Cape Race last weekend was seen again in the same general area on November 16. At least three Snowy Owls have also been reported along the Cape Race road the past few days. The Pied-billed Grebe at Quidi Vidi Lake continued until at least November 15, while another was reported from Stick Pond on November 14.

Tuesday, November 12

A PINK-FOOTED GOOSE (9th record for Newfoundland) was seen & photographed in Bonavista on November 8-11. It is presumably the same individual photographed nearby on October 11 and could easily have been hanging out more or less undetected due to a lack of active birders in the area.

A Gyrfalcon seen at Long Beach (near Cape Race) on November 10 was exciting (as they always are!), especially since they have become rather infrequent in Newfoundland in recent years. A very late Cliff Swallow discovered in Bay Bulls on November 9 was still present the following day. A Pied-billed Grebe at Quidi Vidi Lake has apparently been present since November 4 and looked quite content as recently as yesterday. A Great Egret continued to be seen in Logy Bay until at least November 10.

An adult Common Gull continues to be seen around Quidi Vidi Lake and St. John’s harbour, while there have been no reports of the adult Yellow-legged Gull since it was seen in late October. However, a potential 3rd year Yellow-legged Gull was photographed in the same area on November 7.

Monday, November 4

The biggest rarity of the past two weeks was a PROTHONOTARY WARBLER discovered yesterday (Nov 3) on a vessel on the NE Grand Banks … this is the ~15th record for Newfoundland and an unusually late date, especially considering it was clearly on the move based on location. Other warblers recorded so far this November include Nashville (Trepassey), Palm (Cape Race road), Yellow (St. Mary’s), Yellow-rumped (Cappahayden), Common Yellowthroat (Cape Race) and Yellow-breasted Chat (Trepassey). Lots more to come, we hope!!

Another major rarity was an adult LITTLE GULL, observed fleetingly at Codroy Valley Provincial Park on November 2. ** I’m VERY jealous! ** The first Common Gulls of the season have turned up, with an adult in St. John’s on October 27 and another in Topsail on November 2. Two Bonaparte’s Gulls were also seen together in in St. John’s on October 27, while they have been spotted individually at various location around town since then.

A Western Kingbird was photographed at Sunnyside on November 3. A White-eyed Vireo was near Cripple Cove (Cape Race) on October 26 but could not be relocated the following day.

A Great Blue Heron was hanging out at the bottom of St. John’s harbour October 27-28, while one continued to be reported at Portugal Cove South/Trepassey in late October. A Great Egret first discovered in Logy Bay on October 27 is currently hanging out in a marshy area near Snow’s Lane.

A drake Hooded Merganser has been at Mundy Pond (St. John’s) since October 25, while five (sex unreported) were at Gambo on November 3.  A Ruddy Duck was hanging out Quidi Vidi lake from November 1-2.

Thursday, October 24

So far there have been no additional reports of the Yellow-legged Gull since it was discovered three days ago — but admittedly, there hasn’t been a big effort and it is very likely still around. However, the first Glaucous and Iceland Gulls of the season have since been spotted around the city. A Ruddy Duck was reported near Bay Bulls on October 21 but has not been reported since.

Monday, October 21

News of the day – an adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULL has been spotted in Pleasantville, St. John’s. This might not have been such big news a couple years ago, but this is the first sighting of this species in almost two years. Read more on the blog here.

News recently broke that a PINK-FOOTED GOOSE (9th record for Newfoundland) was photographed at Bonavista by visiting birders from Ontario on October 11. It was not refound four days later, although two Northern Wheatears and three Hoary Redpolls (which looked convincingly like the Hornemannii race) were evident of a recent influx of birds from Greenland. Note that another apparent Hornemann’s Hoary Redpoll was at Cape St. Francis on October 14.

The SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER (2nd Newfoundland record) continues to be seen daily in the same area (Marine Drive area of Torbay) where it was originally discovered.

Wednesday, October 16

The SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER (2nd Newfoundland record) was spotted this afternoon in the same area (Marine Drive area of Torbay) where it was originally discovered last week. A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was photographed in Trepassey this morning – the second report this fall.

The typical arrival of wintering ducks has begun in St. John’s – notables are at least 17 Tufted Ducks reported around the city yesterday, along with a number of the more numerous Great & Lesser Scaup. There were also several Eurasian Wigeon along with their American counterparts, especially at Neville’s Pond in Paradise.

Tuesday, October 15

It was a crazy end to last week when a SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER (2nd Newfoundland record) was discovered in the Marine Drive area of Torbay. It had originally been misidentified as a probable Western Kingbird after a brief glimpse early in the morning of October 10, but refound and identified that afternoon. It was last reported on the morning of Sunday, October 13.

Northern Wheatears also put on a big show last week after an extended period of north winds, with at least eight reported. One was at Cape St. Francis on October 5, one in St. John’s on October 7, one at Portugal Cove South on October 7, and three at Cape Race on October 9 (one seen on October 12). One was discovered just a block from the flycatcher in Torbay from October 10-13, while another was at Renews on October 12.

The Yellow-crowned Night Heron continued in Torbay (hot spot of the week/month!!) until at least October 12 and may still be around – now by far the latest record of this species.

A Hoary Redpoll (probably Greenland race, Hornemanni) was spotted briefly at Cape St. Francis on October 14, as were four Orcas heading out of Conception Bay. Very nice!

Tuesday, October 1

A late update on some of the fall rarities that have been reported in the past ten days. The 21st annual BMI was held on September 21 – while there were no extreme rarities found, there were some good birds to report. A list of highlights is below, but check here for a more complete summary.

Baird’s Sandpiper – 1 St Shotts beach
Buff-breasted Sandpiper – 4 (2 St Shotts sod farm, 2 Cochrane Pond Rd, Goulds)
Yellow-billed Cuckoo – 1 Chance Cove Prov Park road
empidonax flycatcher sp – 2 Bear Cove Point Road
Yellow-throated Vireo – 1 Bear Cove (last reported Sept 25)
Warbling Vireo – 4 (one Bear Cove Pt, three Bear Cove & area)
Nothern Wheatear – 1 (Cape Race road)
Northern Mockingbird – 2 (Blackhead)
Blackburnian Warbler – 1 (Northwest Brook, Trepassey)
Lark Sparrow – 4 (2 Cape Race, 1 Long Beach, 1 Chance Cove)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak – 2 (1 Cappahayden, 1 somewhere else!)
Blue Grosbeak – 1 (continuing ad male at Cape Race; last seen before Sept 25)
Dickcissel – 2 (1 The Drook, 1 Bear Cove)
Bobolink – 2 (Bear Cove & Cappahayden)

Meanwhile, another Warbling Vireo was found at Blackhead on September 20, and at least one was still hanging out at Bear Cove as of September 28. A Yellow-breasted Chat was spotted just south of Cappahayden on September 25, as was a Rose-breasted Grosbeak . Another was found in the town itself. A cooperative Northern Wheatear was at Cape Spear September 28-30.

An immature Yellow-crowned Night Heron discovered in Torbay on September 19 was still in the neighbourhood as recently as yesterday (September 30). Northerly winds forced thousands of seabirds into the bottom of Conception Bay South on September 27, with 20,000+ Leach’s Storm Petrels, 2000+ Red Phalarope, 250+ Pomarine/Parasitic Jaegers and (most exciting!) a juvenile Sabine’s Gull all being seen at Holyrood.

Thursday, September 19

A few notable birds have been showing up this week, the “rarest” of which was an adult male Blue Grosbeak at Cape Race on September 17-18. Two Brown-headed Cowbirds were spotted on September 16 – one at Long Beach and one at Cape Race (presumably the same bird was seen again two days later). A Lark Sparrow was also at Cape Race on September 18, making it the hotspot of the week! The first Yellow-breasted Chat of the fall showed up on a vessel on the Grand Banks on September 16, while a Canada and two Bay-breasted Warblers were near Renews on the same day. A Blue-grey Gnatcatcher was spotted near Cape Spear on September 17. ** Fall rarity season is off to a start – and expect more, since there will be a force of birders out this weekend! **

Monday, September 16

Not so much to report this Monday morning, following a grey and sometimes rainy weekend across the island. However, we can hope that the weather brought in some new birds that will be found in the next few days!

A Warbling Vireo was photographed at Trepassey on September 13, while a Blackburnian Warbler was in Blackhead (near Cape Spear) on September 14 – possibly the same bird seen nearby a few days earlier. A Great Blue Heron was seen flying around over Portugal Cove South this morning. Two Hudsonian Godwits joined a flock of American Golden Plover on Cochrane Pond Road, Goulds throughout the weekend.

Friday, September 13

Another mega rarity showed up this week – this time an apparent adult male LAZULI BUNTING in Corner Brook on September 10. It was seen and quickly photographed (just well enough to confirm its identity) before it flew off. It has not been seen since. This is a very unexpected record, and the first for Newfoundland & Labrador. An immature male Hooded Merganser was spotted in Middle Cove on September 10, while a Common Nighthawk was seen flying over Cuckold’s Cove, St. John’s on September 11.

Monday, September 9

Weekends are usually the peak birding time, especially in fall – so its no surprise that there are a few rarity highlights this Monday morning. A/the immature Yellow-headed Blackbird was photographed at Long Beach on September 5 (presumably the same bird seen a few days earlier at nearby Cape Race). Another COMMON RINGED PLOVER was photographed at Renews on September 6, while a Stilt Sandpiper was photographed at Long Beach that same day. The second Baird’s Sandpiper of the season was also spotted there on September 8.

A PROTHONOTARY WARBLER was discovered in Trepassey on September 8 … ~14th record for Newfoundland and always a stunning bird! A Prairie Warbler was near Renews on the same date, while a Blackburnian Warbler (rare on the Avalon) was near Cape Spear on September 7. An Eastern Kingbird was also at Renews on September 7.

A belated report (and a stunning photo) out of Labrador confirmed the province’s second-ever record of LEWIS’S WOODPECKER!! It was attending a backyard near Forteau for two weeks in July, but has not been seen since. A little less outlandish, but still far out of range, were two Cliff Swallows spotted well offshore – the most recent on September 7 and ~340km east of Makkovik!

Thursday, September 5

An immature BROWN BOOBY was photographed on the railing of a vessel on the northern Grand Banks yesterday!!! That’s just the second provincial record following one near St. Anthony last summer. A Glossy Ibis was photographed at Whiteway, Trinity Bay on August 31, while another (likely the same?) was photographed near Whitbourne on September 2. This species is less than annual in Newfoundland and always a great surprise. An immature Yellow-headed Blackbird was photographed at Cape Race on September 1, while the first Prairie Warbler of the season was spotted near Renews way back on August 23. A White-winged Dove returned to a feeder in Middle Pond (north of Bay Bulls) after not being seen since sometime in June.

Shorebird migration is rolling along, although the only real rarity so far was a moulting adult COMMON RINGED PLOVER seen and photographed at Renews August 16-18. A Baird’s Sandpiper that I saw and photographed at Northern Bay Sands on August 27 was also notable, although it can be expected in very small numbers most years.

Thursday, August 15

While migration is getting underway right on schedule, we haven’t hit peak rarity season just yet. Notables from the past two weeks were a first-summer Sabine’s Gull spotted off Cape Pine on August 1, a “white heron/egret” seen flying over a neighbourhood in St. John’s on August 9, and an immature Little Blue Heron photographed in Point Leamington on August 10. A Gray Catbird has been reported from Glenwood, showing food-carrying behaviour that suggest potential breeding, while a Northern Mockingbird was seen in Renews on August 3. A Northern Shoveler was seen at the unexpected location of Funk Island in early August. Its unclear if a male Tufted Duck spotted around city ponds since August 1 may have summered somewhere locally or is an early arrival from Iceland.

Wednesday, July 31

Things have been quiet on the rarity front. However, the annual shearwater show has been building in recent days, and thousands of Great and Sooty Shearwaters have been feeding near shore at locations such as Cape Spear, Cape Race and Portugal Cove South. A South Polar Skua was seen just a few hundred metres of Cape Spear on July 21. Shorebird migration is also getting underway, although numbers have been moderate so far and nothing even slightly unexpected has been reported.

Wednesday, July 10

Sorry for the month-long absence, folks … I’ve been away leading some tours and trying to make up for that by spending some extra time with the family 😉  I realize a lot of good birds came and went during that time, so hopefully my lack of reports didn’t inconvenience anyone. If it’s any consolation, I missed most of the rarities myself! There is nothing too unusual being reported right now, but here is a synopsis of what I missed in recent weeks:

Tricoloured Heron – An adult present in Renews ~June 10-18 (but not known to birders until June 17) was one of very few records for Newfoundland and the first “gettable” one.

Sandwich Tern – Another great bird at Renews on June 30 – July 2 was only the fourth or fifth record for Newfoundland.

Two Northern Mockingbirds have been reported on the northeast Avalon recently – near Blackhead around July 1 and in Paradise on July 8. Two others were reported near Chance Cove Provincial Park in early June. They are notable anytime in Newfoundland, and especially on the Avalon in mid-summer.

The Grey Heron at Little Heart’s Ease may finally have moved on, since the last confirmed sighting was four weeks ago (June 12). Same goes for the Franklin’s Gull (Witless Bay) and White-winged Dove (Middle Pond), which have not been seen since that same time. See the post below for more details on those birds.

Wednesday, June 12

The adult Franklin’s Gull was seen at Witless Bay as recently as June 10, while the nearby White-winged Dove in Middle Pond (north of Bay Bulls) has been seen most evenings, including last.

A Sora was calling at Lundrigan’s Marsh in St. John’s last night just after sunset – this species breeds very sparsely in Newfoundland and is not easily seen or heard most years.

Sunday, June 9

An adult Franklin’s Gull was seen at Witless Bay the past two days, while another was reported at Carbonear on June 7. An apparent Laughing Gull was photographed at Quidi Vidi gut on June 8. The White-winged Dove in Middle Pond (north of Bay Bulls) has been seen sporadically over the past few days.

The GRAY HERON (ABA Code 5; 2nd record for Newfoundland) was reportedly at its regular location in Little Heart’s Ease on each of the past two days after being absent for several days previous. The Tundra Swan has not been seen for several days and has likely left the area.

Tuesday, June 4

The Tundra Swan was seen at its (semi) regular location in Portugal Cove South as recently as yesterday, and seems to be settled in. A White-winged Dove has been frequenting a feeder in Middle Pond (north of Bay Bulls) for a couple weeks, but only reported yesterday.

A female Ruddy Duck at Neville’s Pond (Paradise) the past two days may be the same that was previously reported at Mundy Pond, St. John’s.

Saturday, June 1

The Tundra Swan was seen at its (semi) regular location in Portugal Cove South again this morning, but flew high and east just after noon — likely to feed on more shallow inland ponds. A female Ruddy Duck has been reported at Mundy Pond in St. John’s this morning.

The Little Blue Heron was not seen yesterday, but was reportedly present until at least Thursday, May 30.

Wednesday, May 29

The Tundra Swan was reported at its regular location in Portugal Cove South late this morning. Despite feeding elsewhere during the day, it does seem to return there periodically. The adult Little Blue Heron was seen at Islington yesterday and has reportedly been there since at least May 24.

The GRAY HERON (ABA Code 5; 2nd record for Newfoundland) was reportedly at its regular location in Little Heart’s Ease much of yesterday and has been a bit more regular in recent days.

Tuesday, May 28 (UPDATED)

** The swan described below was seen again at the same location and confirmed as a Tundra Swan, but unfortunately disappeared again in late morning – possibly to feed at shallower ponds further inland. **

An immature Swan discovered at Portugal Cove South yesterday afternoon has not been identified to species (while Tundra is the most likely suspect, there were some indications that other species should be considered. FYI – Whooper Swan was apparently ruled out based on bill colouration). The swan was present about three hours but could not be relocated later in the afternoon, although it could have been sleeping out of sight.

An adult Little Blue Heron been reported at a small pond near Islington, Trinity Bay and has apparently been present several days.

Sunday, May 26

The Little Egrets (ABA Code 4; 9th record for Newfoundland) continue to be seen at Fair Haven. The GRAY HERON (ABA Code 5; 2nd record for Newfoundland) was also reported at its regular location in Little Heart’s Ease today. Three adult Long-tailed Jaegers spotted at Daley’s Cove (near Cape Race) was an excellent record from land at this time of year.

Tuesday, May 21

The Little Egrets (ABA Code 4; 9th record for Newfoundland) continue to be seen at Fair Haven. One bird appears to have an injured wing (although it is able to fly), so they may be grounded at this location for a period.

Sunday, May 19

One Little Egret (ABA Code 4; 9th record for Newfoundland). was still present at Fair Haven today, although there have still been no reports of the second bird. A/the Eurasian Whimbrel was spotted at Cape Spear again today, and may be spending most of its time in less visible barrens away from the point. Another “curlew” photographed at Long Beach (near Cape Race) on May 18 appears to be the North American (“Hudsonian”) Whimbrel – oddly enough, that would mark just the second spring record for Newfoundland. Hudsonian Whimbrel does migrate through the province in number during fall, of course.

A male Rose-breasted Grosbeak has been frequenting a backyard feeder in the Goulds (St. John’s).

Saturday, May 18

Two egrets reported from Fair Haven (NE Placenta Bay) have been there since Sunday, May 12 and at least one has been confirmed as a Little Egret (ABA Code 4; 9th record for Newfoundland). Despite being very infrequent these days, the Gray Heron (ABA Code 5; 2nd record for Newfoundland) was reported at its regular location in Little Heart’s Ease as recently on May 13.

Tuesday, May 14

A Eurasian Whimbrel was spotted at Cape Spear today, but could not be relocated by a number of birders (including me!) later this afternoon. Th old world race of Whimbrel is a rare (but nearly annual) visitor to Newfoundland, virtually always in spring and usually very fleetingly. A male Northern Wheatear that was first observed Cape Spear on May 11 was still present this afternoon. This species is reported in Newfoundland most springs as they get blown slightly off-course during trans-Atlantic migration to breeding grounds in Greenland and northern Labrador.

Friday, May 10

The GRAY HERON (ABA Code 5; 2nd record for Newfoundland) was reported at its regular location in Little Heart’s Ease as recently on May 8, however its presence is very sporadic. Yours truly did not see it yesterday despite a 12-hour stakeout!!

The Greater White-fronted Goose (Greenland race) at Biscay Bay has not been seen since ~May 4. The White-breasted Nuthatch (2nd record for Newfoundland) at Sandy Cove, Bonavista Bay has also not been spotted since April 30. Routine spring migration is moving along more or less according to schedule the past few days.

Tuesday, April 30

The GRAY HERON (ABA Code 5; 2nd record for Newfoundland) was reported at its regular location in Little Heart’s Ease as recently on April 29 – it is only seen every few days.  The Pink-footed Goose (8th record for the province) has disappeared from the Bowring Park duck pond as of April 27, while the Greater White-fronted Goose (Greenland race) was seen at Biscay Bay as recently as April 29.

The White-breasted Nuthatch (2nd record for Newfoundland) has been spotted daily at Sandy Cove, Bonavista Bay since its discovery on April 22.

Friday, April 26

This adult Little Blue Heron was photographed at Point Verde. - Photo: Elizabeth MacDonald (April 25, 2013)
– Photo: Elizabeth MacDonald (April 25, 2013)

An adult Little Blue Heron was photographed in Point Verde, Placentia yesterday – this species has been recorded ~40 times in Newfoundland but has been quite scarce in recent years. The White-breasted Nuthatch (2nd record for Newfoundland) has been spotted daily at Sandy Cove, Bonavista Bay since its discovery on April 22. The Greater White-fronted Goose (Greenland race) was seen at Biscay Bay today, loafing on a small spit of land on the “inside pond”.

The GRAY HERON (ABA Code 5; 2nd record for Newfoundland) was also reported at its regular location in Little Heart’s Ease as recently as April 24, and the Pink-footed Goose (8th record for the province) was still hanging out at the Bowring Park duck pond yesterday.

Tuesday, April 23

The White-breasted Nuthatch (2nd record for Newfoundland) was spotted and photographed at Sandy Cove, Bonavista Bay again today. The Greater White-fronted Goose (Greenland race) was not seen at Biscay Bay today.

Monday, April 22

The Greater White-fronted Goose (Greenland race) continued at Biscay Bay until at least late today, while another intriguing but unidentified goose was seen and distantly photographed flying past Cape Race. The Pink-footed Goose (8th record for the province) is still hanging out at the Bowring Park duck pond.

In non-goose news, a White-breasted Nuthatch was reported at a feeder in Sandy Cove, Bonavista Bay – that would mark just the second record for Newfoundland! An adult Laughing Gull was at Portugal Cove South on April 20-21, while Ivory Gulls have been reported near Greenspond on the northeast coast again.

Friday, April 19

The Greater White-fronted Goose (Greenland race) continued at Biscay Bay all day yesterday (no reports, positive or negative, yet today). An American Golden Plover at nearby Portugal Cove South was just the third spring record for Newfoundland. The GRAY HERON (ABA Code 5; 2nd record for Newfoundland) was also reported at its regular location in Little Heart’s Ease yesterday, and the Pink-footed Goose (8th record for the province) was still hanging out at the Bowring Park duck pond.

Tuesday, April 16

Another Greater White-fronted Goose (Greenland race) has shown up at Biscay Bay, photographed there this morning. No recent reports on the two at Twillingate present last week. The GRAY HERON (ABA Code 5; 2nd record for Newfoundland) was reported at its regular location in Little Heart’s Ease yesterday, while the COMMON CHAFFINCH (ABA Code 4) was spotted at its regular feeder in Corner Brook yesterday after about two weeks absence. It now appears to be in the company of a local junco flock. As of at least a couple days ago, the Pink-footed Goose (8th record for the province) was still hanging out at the Bowring Park duck pond.

Friday, April 12

Excellent news – the  GRAY HERON (ABA Code 5; 2nd record for Newfoundland) was relocated at its regular location in Little Heart’s Ease on both April 10 and today. It is reportedly not being seen for long periods of time (often days), so is either hiding more often than not or using a nearby (but yet undiscovered) location much of the time.

The Pink-footed Goose (8th record for the province) is still hanging out at the Bowring Park duck pond. Two Greater White-fronted Geese (Greenland race) were still present at Twillingate as recently as yesterday (April 11). A number of the more regular winter visitors are still present around St. John’s, including at least a dozen Tufted Ducks, several Eurasian Wigeon, two Common Gulls, and a handful of Black-headed Gulls.

Sunday, April 7

I’m checking in with two negative updates — both the COMMON CHAFFINCH (last seen March 27) and the GRAY HERON (last seen March 31) seem to have disappeared. The Pink-footed Goose, however, is still hanging out at the Bowring Park duck pond.

Friday, April 5

Two Greater White-fronted Geese (Greenland race) were found and photographed at Twillingate on April 3, and reportedly still present today. These geese are rare but regular visitors to Newfoundland both in spring and fall. Winds were excellent for the arrival of these (and other?) Greenland/Icelandic migrants throughout the previous two weeks.

The Pink-footed Goose (8th record for the province) is still hanging out at the Bowring Park duck pond. I have heard no reports, positive or negative, about the GRAY HERON since Sunday.

Monday, April 1

An immature Ivory Gull was hanging out in Lewisporte harbour yesterday, but could not be relocated today (read more here). The GRAY HERON (ABA Code 5; 2nd record for Newfoundland) was reported at its regular location in Little Heart’s Ease on Saturday, but I have heard no reports since then. The Pink-footed Goose (8th record for the province) is still hanging out at the Bowring Park duck pond as of today.

Saturday, March 30

The GRAY HERON (ABA Code 5; 2nd record for Newfoundland) was reported at its regular location in Little Heart’s Ease today.

There have been a strong, consistent flow of winds from northwestern Europe and Iceland to the coasts of Newfoundland & Labrador for the past 10 days or so … there could very easily be more European vagrants roaming around out there somewhere. It’s just a matter of finding them!

Thursday, March 28

The GRAY HERON (ABA Code 5; 2nd record for Newfoundland) was reported at its regular location in Little Heart’s Ease yesterday. The COMMON CHAFFINCH (ABA Code 4) was also reported at the regular feeder in Corner Brook yesterday, but has sometimes been absent for days. When present, it often visits in the early morning, noon and late afternoon.

The recent arrival of Ring-billed Gulls in St. John’s is an early sign of spring – right on schedule.

Tuesday, March 26

The GRAY HERON (ABA Code 5; 2nd record for Newfoundland) was reported at its regular location in Little Heart’s Ease yesterday. The Pink-footed Goose (8th record for the province) also continues at the Bowring Park duck pond.

Sunday, March 24

The GRAY HERON (ABA Code 5; 2nd record for Newfoundland) WAS reported at its regular location in Little Heart’s Ease late today (March 24). It has apparently been going for lengthy periods of time not seen in the past few days, despite several people looking. The COMMON CHAFFINCH (ABA Code 4) is still being seen in Corner Brook, reported along Pine Street this morning.

Spring is slowly making its mark in St. John’s, with many regular gulls and waterfowl spreading out a bit as more local ponds open up. However, numbers of Tufted Ducks, Eurasian Wigeon, Eurasian Green-winged (Common) Teal, Common Gulls and Black-headed Gulls are still present at expected locations throughout the city.

Thursday, March 21

The GRAY HERON (ABA Code 5; 2nd record for Newfoundland) was reported at its regular location in Little Heart’s Ease late yesterday (but apparently could not be seen earlier in the day – so finding it may require some time and patience). The Pink-footed Goose (8th record for the province) also continues at the Bowring Park duck pond.

I have had no reports (positive or negative) of the COMMON CHAFFINCH (ABA Code 4) for several days, but have no reason to believe it has moved on.

Sunday, March 17

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! A COMMON CHAFFINCH (ABA Code 4) has been found and photographed in Corner Brook. It has been visiting a backyard feeder sporadically for several weeks but just reported on March 16. This would be the fourth record for Newfoundland. While provenance of this species is always questioned in North America, the location of the island and the regularity of its vagrancy to nearby Iceland helps make a good case for the “wildness” of birds that show up here. It is reportedly acts very wary and furtive like a wild individual might.

The GRAY HERON (ABA Code 5; 2nd record for Newfoundland) has been seen at its regular location in Little Heart’s Ease today. The Pink-footed Goose (8th record for the province) also continues at the Bowring Park duck pond.

Friday, March 15

The GRAY HERON (ABA Code 5; 2nd record for Newfoundland) has been seen at its regular location in Little Heart’s Ease today.

Thursday, March 14

The GRAY HERON (ABA Code 5; 2nd record for Newfoundland) continued to be seen at the same location in Little Heart’s Ease throughout the day today. The Pink-footed Goose (8th record for the province) also continues at the Bowring Park duck pond.

Tuesday, March 12

*** UPDATE – The GRAY HERON was seen again today at the usual location. See below for details. ***

The GRAY HERON (ABA Code 5; 2nd record for Newfoundland) continued to be seen at the same location in Little Heart’s Ease throughout the day yesterday (March 11). I will post another update this evening.

Monday, March 11

A GRAY HERON (ABA Code 5; 2nd record for Newfoundland) was identified at Little Heart’s Ease on March 1. It has apparent been present nearly a week an initially reported as a Great Blue Heron – fortunately, the unusually early date and recent northeasterly winds raised suspicions. While the bird does exhibit some sign of stress/exhaustion (as expected), it was alive and well on last report.

Ivory Gulls have not been reported on the Avalon Peninsula since a short rash of three individuals in late February, but up to five individuals have been present for several days in Greenspond on the northeast coast. The Pink-footed Goose (8th record for the province) continues to hang out at the Bowring Park duck pond.

Wednesday, February 27

A Gyrfalcon was spotted briefly yesterday, flying over a road and pond in Portugal Cove-St. Phillip’s. This is generally a good time of year for that species to show up. Also just as expected, several Northern Saw-whet and Boreal Owls are being reported in backyards and residential areas over the past few days, likely attracted by small feeder birds and urban rodents now that deeper snow is making hunting in the forest more difficult. There have been no further reports of the Long-eared Owl (~5th record for Newfoundland).

Sunday, February 24

A Long-eared Owl (~5th record for Newfoundland) was photographed in Portugal Cove South yesterday – it is not known yet if it is hanging out in the area or was just passing through. The Pink-footed Goose (8th record for the province) continues to hang out at the Bowring Park duck pond. A Northern Mockingbird first discovered on December 26 was spotted recently in the same neighbourhood on Roche St, St. John’s.

Tuesday, February 12

There have been no subsequent reports of the Fieldfare, however it could still be in the area. The Pink-footed Goose (8th record for the province) continues to hang out at the Bowring Park duck pond, while five Snow Geese continue to be seen at Salt Pond (Burin Peninsula).

The very resilient Yellow-breasted Chat managed to sruvive until at least February 9, but has not been seen since a storm on that date. A Yellow-rumped Warbler has been ekeing it out on the lower Waterford River and seen as recently as February 11.

Thursday, January 24

News of a FIELDFARE in Reidville (near Deer Lake) broke on Monday. It had been seen just three times in about a month, starting mid-December, eating apples in a local backyard – fortunately, the homeowners were able to photograph and report it for identification. It has made at least two brief visits to the yard in the past few days, but is still far from a “stakeout bird” since its other movements around the community are unknown at the moment. There are reportedly lots of fruit trees in the area to keep it going. (Read more here.)

This has been a great winter for geese … The Pink-footed Goose (8th record for the province) continues to hang out at the Bowring Park duck pond, and is likely settled in for the winter. Up to six Snow Geese have been hanging out in the Salt Pond (Burin Peninsula) area since January 1, reported most recently grazing in a local soccer field on January 22. The Brant continues to be seen at Flatrock.

Amazingly, the Yellow-breasted Chat managed to survive some seriously cold weather and two significant snowfalls, reported as recently as January 22. None of the other lingering warblers have been reported recently.

Wednesday, January 16

The Pink-footed Goose (8th record for the province) has settled in comfortably at the Bowring Park duck pond, providing very close and easy views. Amazingly, six species of warbler (and up to nine individuals) managed to survive into January – a Townsend’s Warbler (14th for Newfoundland) three Pine Warblers, and possibly two Orange-crowned Warblers were reported into the first week of January, while a Yellow-breasted Chat and Yellow-rumped Warbler were reported as recently as January 13 and 14 respectively. Two Clay-coloured Sparrows have been visiting a feeder at Lumsden for the past number of days. A female Gadwall has been at Quidi Vidi Lake since January 8, while the Brant continues to be seen at Flatrock.

A YELLOW-LEGGED GULL was reported at Quidi Vidi Lake on January 10, but not seen since. Record numbers of Tufted Duck and Eurasian Wigeon continue to be seen at various city ponds.

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