Summer (June – August) 2009
Summer passed by somewhat quickly in Newfoundland, as summer usually does. June was relatively cool with warmer, more seasonable weather dominating in July and August. It was a dry few months, especially on the Avalon Peninsula which received significantly less rain in the second half of summer than average.
The anticipation of Hurricane Bill, which made landfall at the Burin Peninsula on the night of August 23, appeared to be for naught. Not only did the storm pass over the island much more quickly than expected but the rare pelagic species that birders were waiting for failed to show up. Despite a few suspicious terns being spotted over the next few days, a lone Least Tern was the only confirmed waif.
A drake Wood Duck spending the summer at Bowring Park was an unusual visitor on the Avalon Peninsula this season, while a total of 6 birds observed in the Codroy region on August 10 was more expected were reported from the region this spring). At least two broods of Gadwall were hatched in the Codroy valley this spring, with groups of five and seven chicks observed (the province’s only other confirmed breeding record was in the same area in 2007). A drake Eurasian Wigeon observed in the same area in early June is now annual but still notable. A female-type Hooded Merganser was observed at Middle Cove on July 26, while another was reported from Gander on August 6.
Perhaps the most exciting news of the summer (albeit frustrating for listers!) was that of the province’s second and third records of Black-browed Albatross. An adult bird was photographed following a fishing boat ~75 miles off the Bonavista Peninsula for two days in mid-June, while another was photographed following a crab boat ~100 miles off Hopedale, Labrador on August 5. It remains unclear if the same bird was involved in both records.
Great Blue Herons have clearly established themselves on the southwest corner of the province, with a significant report of 33 in the Codroy Valley in early July. Two Great Egrets were reported from the Northern Peninsula this summer – one at Hampden in mid-July, and another at St. Paul’s Inlet on July 22. A Snowy Egret reported in early July at Stephenville Crossing was the third report this year. A juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron was seen standing on a lawn in Seal Cove, Fortune Bay in early August, while two others were photographed in St. John’s on August 25 and 31.
The province’s third record of Swainson’s Hawk was an adult seen flying over Red Rocks Road in the Codroy valley on June 26. A large, unidentified bird reported from Bonavista in August was later confirmed to be a Sandhill Crane.
Exciting shorebird news came in the form of a pair of Piping Plovers at Shallow Bay, GMNP – the first pair observed there in 30+ years. They successfully raised a brood of 4 chicks. Another pair was observed occasionally at St. Andrew’s beach, and several other pairs were being watched over at more usual locations. The species appears to be doing “relatively” well in the province. A pair of Willets at Renews for the third consecutive summer showed no evidence of breeding, however a pair observed with young at Frenchman’s Cove provided the first confirmed breeding record away from the Stephenville Crossing area. Fall shorebird migration got off to an excellent start on the Northern Peninsula with interesting reports of 11 Lesser Yellowlegs in Bird Cove on August 5 and an estimated 2500-3000 White-rumped Sandpipers in Eddies Cove on August 10. Six Buff-breasted Sandpipers observed in St. Shott’s on August 28 was a prelude to record numbers seen in early September. A Baird’s Sandpiper was observed and photographed in Trepassey August 25-26.
Two first summer Sabine’s Gulls (possibly the same bird) were observed in the Orphan Basin off the province’s east coast on July 23 and 25. An adult Yellow-legged Gull was discovered in St. John’s on August 18 – the earliest recorded arrival of this now annual species in the city, and the second summer record for the province. Newfoundland’s third Least Tern, the only confirmed vagrant after Hurricane Bill hit the island, was an adult discovered in Grand Bank (and later refound at nearby L’Anse au Loup) on August 24.
White-winged Doves were observed in Clarenville (June 27) and Placentia (July 31), making for approximately 10 provincial records of this now annual species. A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was seen briefly in Searston, Codroy Valley on June 5, while another was observed at the more unexpected location of Plum Point on the Northern Peninsula on June 20. Two Eastern Wood Peewees appeared newly arrived in the Codroy Valley on June 23, while another was reported from St. John’s on the same day. Eastern Kingbirds were report from numerous locations across the island throughout June, and one in the Goulds on August 3 was a late summer record for the Avalon. A Warbling Vireo observed on Red Rocks Road in the Codroy Valley (June 3) was a rare spring record.
A Northern Rough-winged Swallow observed amidst a flock in the Grand Codroy on June 1 provides one of surprisingly few records for the province. Small numbers of Cliff Swallows were reported from across the province in early June, including two at the Great Codroy estuary and individuals at the Goulds and Renews. A Wood Thrush seen at Cape Ray on June 11 was the 6th provincial record. It appeared to be a good summer for Grey Catbirds on the island, with 6 reported from the Codroy Valley region, one from the Goulds in early June, and a pair potentially breeding near Kelly’s Brook in St. John’s. Single birds were also noted in Forteau and St. Lewis, Labrador on July 20-21. Northern Mockingbirds made a good showing in the southeast corner of this island, with 3 different birds observed in June.
The stronger than usual birding effort in the Codroy Valley region this spring continued to produce interesting warbler observations, including a potential first breeding record of Chestnut-sided Warbler near Loch Lomand (a pair seen on territory and carrying nesting material). Healthy numbers of the bud-worm warblers (Bay-breasted, Blackburnian and Cape May Warblers) were noted throughout the region, and Northern Parula appears to be well established in that area (~20 individuals seen/heard) and are undoubtedly breeding. Nashville Warbler continued to be reported into June, with a total of 5 birds reported during the spring. A Canada Warbler seen on Red Rocks Rd on June 2 was the second report of the spring for this species. Another report from Terra Nova National Park on August 13 was unconfirmed.
A Field Sparrow observed briefly on Red Rocks Road, Codroy Valley on June 3 was an unexpected spring visitor and only ~4th provincial record. Finally, a pair of Brown-headed Cowbirds was observed at Grand Codroy in early June.