Summer 2011

Summer (June – August) 2011

While Newfoundlanders often gripe about dismal weather, this summer provided some real fodder for complaints. June and (especially) July were cooler and wetter than usual, and the effect on both birds and birding was notable. Following an equally cool spring, many migrants appeared to arrive relatively late into the season, although in the end that seemed to have little impact on overall flavour. While the biggest rarity of the summer might well have been the province’s fourth Rufous Hummingbird in mid-August, two shorebirds also make the list – Newfoundland’s third Pacific Golden Plover in late July and an American Avocet at the end of August.

A female Gadwall was at Mundy Pond, St. John’s from August 22-24. A female and young were observed at Wigeon Pond in the Codroy Valley in June, while another pair was present in the estuary. A pair of Northern Shovelers was present at the same location. A male and two female Hooded Mergansers were reported from Brig Bay (Great Northern Peninsula) on June 10, a female in Paradise from June 21 – July 6, and another in the Goulds on July 31. At least three Wood Ducks were present in the Codroy Valley during June, being spotted together at Loch Lomond. Two drakes were spotted near St. Lunaire-Griquet near the end of June, and another in Gros Morne National Park on July 1. A lone drake was in Bowring Park, St. John’s on July 11 (and likely present for a while thereafter).

A remarkable flight of 27 Red-throated Loons at Cape Ray was reported in mid-June. While a single Pied-billed Grebe was observed at Loch Lomond, Codroy Valley (the one and only known breeding location for the island) in early June, no pair or chicks were observed to confirm breeding this year.

The annual showing of shearwaters was spectacular at times this summer, with an estimated 50,000+ at Daley’s Cove (near Cape Race) on July 18 and a much-photographed feeding frenzy occurring right onshore at Outer Cove from August 10-15. Two Wilson’s Storm Petrels were observed from Cape Spear on August 5.

An adult Little Blue Heron was first reported behind a house in Logy Bay on July 11 and relocated briefly in Middle Cove on July 15. Another (or potentially the same) was observed at Blaketown from August 10-13. An immature Yellow-crowned Night Heron was at Quidi Vidi lake in St. John’s on August 15-16, marking the only record of the season. Similarly, the only confirmed Great Egret was seen at Eastport on June 30, while another probable individual was seen flying over a St. John’s residence on June 1.

An adult Red-tailed Hawk was seen flying over Broom’s Brook (Codroy Valley) on June 10. The only Sora reported this season was at Codroy in June.

The province’s third Pacific Golden Plover (probably a moulting female) was at Bellevue from July 30 – August 3. A lone Piping Plover was spotted in Portugal Cove South on June 1. Another was recorded at Flat Bay on June 4, while a pair was confirmed to have successfully hatched four eggs at Stephenville Crossing on June 10. Another pair with an active nest was reported from Searston on the same date. Hopes are that the species is maintaining its small foothold on the west coast of the island.

An American Avocet was present at South River (Conception Bay North) from August 29-31. Solitary Sandpipers were reported from several locations in late summer, including at least three in Renews on August 20, Forest Pond (Goulds) August 20-24, Mundy Pond in St. John’s on August 22 and Commonwealth Pond (St. John’s/Mount Pearl) on August 31. A Willet was present at Renews from June 4 – July 22, having summered there for several consecutive years. However, there was no evidence of a breeding pair following last year’s notable record. Three individuals were spotted at the more usual breeding location of Flat Bay on June 4, and another at St. Paul’s Inlet on June 16. Single Lesser Yellowlegs at Biscay Bay on June 4 and Bird Cove on June 28 marked relatively early records for this species. A notably high number of 58 Red Knots were observed at Stephenville Crossing on August 3. A Stilt Sandpiper was at Chance Cove Provincial Park on August 19. Buff-breasted Sandpipers were spotted at St. Shott’s on August 23 and Lewisporte on August 30. A juvenile Ruff was photographed in the Goulds on August 26. Early reports for Short-billed Dowitcher came from the Codroy Valley on June 6 and Gambo on June 14. An American Woodcock was heard calling near St. Andrew’s on June 7 – the only record of the year for this rare breeder.

A Bonaparte’s Gull was at the Codroy estuary on June 7, while an immature was spotted near St. Alban’s on August 31. Adult Laughing Gulls were spotted at Cape Ray on June 6 and nearby Searston on June 10. Up to three individuals (1st summer, 2nd summer, adult) were reported from Renews July 16-23 (all three present on July 18), while another 1st summer individual was present in nearby Ferryland July 18-28. An immature Franklin’s Gull was observed at Grand Codroy on August 1. The first report of Yellow-legged Gull for the season was an adult near Quidi Vidi lake on August 21 – pretty much right on schedule based on the last few years. Interestingly, seven Lesser Black-backed Gulls were reported from the Torngat Mountain region in Labrador during August – information about the abundance and potential breeding status of this species in northern Labrador is scarce. An adult Black Tern was at Long Pond, CBS July 6-10 (and reported earlier), while others were described but unconfirmed from Windsor Lake (St. John’s) and Trepassey around the same time.

South Polar Skuas were described from Cape Spear on July 15 and Daley’s Cove on August 10.

At least one, and possibly two, Black-billed Cuckoos were at Broom’s Brook (Codroy Valley) on June 3 – a notable spring record.

Three Northern Hawk Owls were on territory between Plum Point and Mount St. Margaret during the period. Short-eared Owls, which are becoming more uncommon in Newfoundland recently, were reported Cape Race in late June and nearby Cripple Cove on July 9. Northern Saw-whet Owls were reportedly heard calling in several areas of the Codroy Valley during June.

A Common Nighthawk at St. Andrew’s on June 4 was a nice surprise, while a group of seven Chimney Swifts in the Codroy Valley on June 2 was perhaps the biggest spring flock ever observed in the province.

An adult female Rufous Hummingbird was observed and photographed well at a feeder in Middle Pond (near Bay Bulls) August 18-20 – marking the fourth record of this species (including one immature that was likely this species). A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was reported from Pasadena on June 8, following what appeared to be a good spring for reports of this species.

An Eastern Phoebe was hanging out near St. Andrew’s starting June 15, while the first Eastern Wood Pee-wee of the season in the region was spotted on June 8. Olive-sided Flycatchers were reported in healthy numbers this season – a good sign considering their conservation status in the province. Numbers were reported from expected locations, including the Codroy Valley during June migration. One wayward individual was spotted near Renews on June 19, while an unusual concentration of 15+ individuals was observed near Plum Point on August 22. There also seemed to be a good showing of Eastern Kingbirds in the Codroy region, with a total of 7-8 seen in the first few weeks of June. Another was present in the Goulds on June 5 and possibly later. Least Flycatchers were also reported from less usual location, including the Stephenville and St. Anthony areas in late June and early July.

A female Purple Martin in the Codroy Valley on June 1-2 was less than annual. An individual Cliff Swallow was seen in the same area on June 2, while six or more were present June 8-10.

Five or more Grey Catbirds were spotted in the Codroy region this June, between Millville and Upper Ferry. Individuals were observed at Bear Cove Point road (near Renews) on June 5, Long Beach (Cape Race) on June 25, and Rocky Harbour on June 29. The only Northern Mockingbirds reported this summer were at Corner Brook on June 6 and St. Andrew’s on June 17.

A few Nashville Warblers were present in the Codroy Valley in early June, but reportedly more difficult to find after June 10 (suggesting they may be migrating and not staying to breed). One individual was photographed near Cape Race on June 14. Chestnut-sided Warblers continued their apparent expansion in the Codroy region, with as many as 9 males singing on territory in mid-June. Another was singing near Stephenville in late June. A male Black-throated Blue Warbler was present at Broom’s Brook (Codroy Valley) from at least June 6-10, possibly just the third spring record of this species for the province. A Canada Warbler was observed on Red Rocks Road near the Codroy Valley on June 7-10, while another was at nearby St. Andrew’s on June 15. Two were spotted near Cape Race on August 22 – the start of fall warbler migration. A Prairie Warbler was on Bear Cove Point road from August 26-28.

A Clay-coloured Sparrow was observed singing on private property in Millville (Codroy Valley) starting on June 7 – the first confirmed spring record for Newfoundland. There was also an unconfirmed report of a singing Lark Sparrow on Bear Cove Point road (Renews) on August 28.

A lone Rose-breasted Grosbeak was found in Upper Ferry (Codroy Valley) on June 2, while several were reported from feeders in the area around that time. An Indigo Bunting was spotted at Cape Ray on June 4, while an immature male Blue Grosbeak was in Plum Point on the same date. Bobolinks were reported to be present in above average numbers around the Codroy Valley this June, but cultivation of fields during that time continues to be a barrier to their successful breeding. Both an adult male Baltimore Oriole and a Brown-headed Cowbird were also at Cape Ray on June 4.

Reports of Red Crossbill are always of note due to their conservation status in the province, although they do appear to be faring okay. Flocks were reported from South River (8), Whitbourne (18), Conception Bay South (11), Terra Nova National Park (~10) and Middle Cove (2) during June.

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