Friday, 24 August 2012

Highlights from NL

I did a 24 hour trip around the Avalon Peninsula yesterday and today with a friend from town.

A quick briefing of the highlights:

1 juvenile Wilson's Phalarope was neat to see:

Same with this juvenile Great Blue Heron:

Both species pretty common in Ontario but always exciting to see in Newfoundland considering that I had never seen either species here...


Monday, 20 August 2012

Tufted Duck X Greater Scaup hybrid

The other day Anne Hughes mentioned seeing a possible TUDUXGRSC at Kenny's pond so I went in search of it today (August 20, 2012) and re-found it just across the street at Kent's Pond.

The bird is a female, with a large white spot at the base of the bill. Female Tufted Ducks never show much white, if at all, at the base of the bill. However, it has a small 'tuft' - the tuft is more like a few strands of hair/feathers when looking at the profile view; however, once the bird turns its ahead away it has what looks like a mohawk - a very short crest about an inch in length that extends from just behind the top of the head downwards.
The bird also has a fairly large black tip which I would associate more with a Tufted Duck.

Black at tip of bill seems too large for a Greater Scaup?

The 'mohawk' is sort of evident here:

And the profile view shows a few straggles of feathers on the back of the head:

Let me know if you agree or disagree with this identification!

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Good ol' times

Yeah... the blog has been on the back burner for a while. But I'm still birding!
Migration is very evident nowadays with plenty of shorebirds around and even a few warblers in the backyard.

Frequent visits to Cape Spear (the most Easterly point in North America) have rewarded me with great views of the 3 regular species of shearwater... I love shearwaters... a lot... I might even get a name change...

Anyway, exciting shearwater news the other day came from Nova Scotia. A few Barolo Shearwaters (I'll be honest, I had no idea about this split) were seen offshore from Nova Scotia! White-faced Storm-petrels were nearby as well!!!
I would do anything to see those species in Newfoundland... from land - and I think all NL birders would as well...
Unfortunately, the island is surrounded by a ton of relatively shallow water so we aren't very fortunate in terms of getting deep-water pelagic bird...

Anyway, we do get Sea Otters - my friend and I were doing a short hike the other day and saw a family of Sea Otters feeding on fish and literally following us for over 3km during our hike!

A Common Murre was nearby as well:

I've also been filming some of the Alcids in flight (Common Murre and Puffins so far) - there's a dearth of information online (and in general) about alcid identification in flight. I found that while I was in Denmark I was disappointed that I couldn't find any information to help me out with ID'ing those distant alcids in flight - and the low rate of flybys meant that I wasn't able to learn via observation as fast as I would have liked...

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that I'm thinking of putting together a video of Atlantic alcids in flight (Razorbill, Thick-billed Murre, and Common Murre) - to help people learn how to distinguish between them!

Tell me what you think about the idea - I might need the encouragement to follow through :p

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Columbia Lake gettin' crazyyy

Check out this big fish from Columbia Lake:

...nah, it's actually in Newfoundland. I've been back here for a few days and have been enjoying plenty of time watching the sea. 3 species of shearwater seem to be regular + the usual puffins, and Common Murres. Had 1 Pomarine Jaeger so far.

I'm crossing my fingers for a Cory's Shearwater... they're listed as "very uncommon" on the Newfoundland checklist, but as far as I know there hasn't been one for several years now...
You just never know what can show up around here...maybe even a Yellow-nosed Albatross, or a wagtail flying overhead :p

A small mixed flock of shorebirds at Cape Spear yesterday helped bring my Newfoundland year list to 49...