While the scene outside my window leaves no doubt that winter is still here, the “official” winter birding season ended on February 28. This year, a total of 161 species were recorded on the island during that time — a new record!! Highlights were many, but obvious ones included Vermilion Flycatcher (1st provincial record), Gray Heron, THREE Redwings, Brown Thrasher, Tundra Swan, Slaty-backed Gull, (most recently) Spotted Towhee and of course the persistence of several very tough warblers. The growth of our west coast birding community certainly contributed to the record-setting season, with numerous species being found only there this year. One additional species in Labrador (Common Shelduck) puts the provincial tally at 162.
Time seemed to move so slowly when the COVID-19 pandemic first settled on our shores. Shutdowns, home-schooling, social distancing, and (for me) a complete absence of visiting birders to share my adventures with. It felt like any semblance of normal might never return. But as things here in Newfoundland & Labrador improved and life began to shift back towards “normal”, time has really flown. I can’t believe it’s been seven months, it’s mid-fall and the first tastes of snow and cold weather are already here again!!
As I mentioned in my last blog post, the silver lining of such an unusual summer was being able to spend more time hanging out and exploring with my family. While their lives have since veered back towards normal — the girls & Susan are back to school, and many of their other activities are starting back up (even if they aren’t exactly as they were) — mine remains quite different. Trips & tours I was excited about are still being cancelled (most recently my annual Trinidad & Tobago tour), and I’m still unable to welcome guests from most of Canada and the world. On the upside, I’ve been using the time to get back to birding basics – exploring new areas, hunting for fall vagrants with old friends, and even scoring a few great finds along the way. Here are a few highlights from Fall 2020 so far …
Fall is also a great time to go berry-picking in Newfoundland. I spent several days picking blueberries (September) & partridgeberries (October; my favourite!) in Grates Cove – including a fun weekend getaway with my dad how I don’t get to see often enough.
All that being said, I’m stoked to get back leading tours and sharing Newfoundland’s amazing birds with new people! I’m making plans for a brand new start in January – leaving the weirdness of 2020 behind and striking out on new adventures 😉
Stay tuned for some announcements next week — an exciting new partnership, winter tours and weekend workshops!
I am going to steal some words from my last blog post, since they ring just as true three months later: I know many people and families have been impacted by this pandemic in much greater ways than ours, and our hearts go out to everyone who has suffered illness, experienced loss or simply struggled to make ends meet. We pray every day to see the light at the end of this dark tunnel soon. However, if you’re as fortunate as we are to stay safe and healthy, I encourage you to find the silver linings in your own lives and make the most of them. Your smile and positive attitude may be just what the next person you run into needs to see.
Be safe, take care of yourself and those around you, and keep dreaming about that next adventure.