Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fall Birding Trips

After a long,long hiatus from updating this thing, I've finally decided to commit myself to regular updates. There likley will not be updates every day,but I can guarantee something on at least a weekley basis moving forward. I'm actually currently working on several things, including an article on the relationship between weather and birds in Newfoundland, as well as a article discussing the separation of juvenile Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. I hope to have both of these finished and up on the blog within the next week.

For now, I'd like to discuss my fall birding trips, that will be running about every two weeks until mid November and then I'll probably switch to monthly winter trips. All of these trips will take place on the famous southern Avalon. The southern Avalon, deservedly has the repautation for the most exciting birding locale in Newfoundland and for good reason. What other birding location in North America can claim birds such as European Golden Plover, Corn Crake,Common Redshank,Eurasian Oystercatcher, Eurasian Curlew,Northern Lapwing,Yellow-legged Gull,Common-ringed Plover,Curlew Sandpiper adn those are just the European rarities. Looking within our own continent we've found Pacific Golden Plover,Cave Swallow,American Avocet,Black-necked Stilt,Sooty Tern,Least TernGull-billed Tern,Ivory Gull,, Swainson's Hawk,Clapper Rail,Ash-throated Flycatcher, Prothonotary Warbler,Kentucky Warbler,Worm-eating Warbler etc. Are you salivating yet? I could go on and on listing the fanastic rarities that have been found over the last dacade on this 200 km strip of coastline,but surely this gives you an idea of the potential of the location.

As mentioned I am running trips down the southern shore at least every 2nd week and possibly more often, depending on demand. The first trip in this installment went on Auguest 29th. The trip sold out in just over a day, which was not surprising given the amazing birding at this time of year. There were 7 participants,including myself and we birded from Cape Broyle to Cape Race and back again. The two main objectives of the day were fall "warblering" and shorebirding.

We hit Bear Cove Pt Rd in Renews around 8:00 and stayed there for about 3.5 hours. During that time we saw 10+ species of warbler including a Canada and a Nashville Warbler,both being rare in the province. Aside from that, we saw lots of our more common breeding species,such as Common Yellowthroat,Blackpoll, Black and White, Wilsons etc. After we had out fill of warblers, we headed for Renews beach to check out the shorebird scene.

There was a decent diversity of shorebirds present on the each,despite the high tide and among them were several Lesser Yellowlegs(resaonably uncommon)a Short-billed Dowitcher and a juvie Red Knot. One participant,who shall remain nameless, was left feeling underwhelmed with his life encounter with Red Knot,lamenting the fact that it was in fact not red at all and better yet seemed devoid of any remarkable features! Personally, I think Juvie Red Knots in their frosted, scaly plumage, are quite attractive in a subdued way!I think this particular participant had come to see my way of thinking after point blank views at 60X!! That one of the great things about these trips, you WILL have the opportunity to see many different species of shorebirds at very close range,allowing for careful study of all their intricate details.

After the Renews shorebirding experience, we headed for Cape Race in search of Whimbrels and whatever else might come our way. We did in fact find several flocks of Whimbrels and had some amazing views,especially when a couple of birds circled our heads repeatedly. Aside from the Whimbrels, we had some great encounters with a number of raptors, including Merlin,Sharp-shinned Hawk,Northern Goshawk, Bald Eagle,Northern Harrier(many) and a Peregrine Falcon. I should also mention a nice look at two Moose,that seemd to look out of place on the Cape Race barrens.

We decided to head back towards St.John's after Cape Race since points west seemed to be cloaked in fog. We ended the day with some more study of the Renews shorebird flock and some leisurly scope views of a Beaver eating lilly pads.Overall, it was a great day,with some great birds and good time was had by all.

The second installement in my southern shore birding series happens this Sunday September 12th. Unfortunately, that trip is completely booked and has been for some time.It also promises to be a spectacular trip, with even more promise for exciting rarities.

Following the above trip I have a tour scheduled for either Sat September 25th or Sunday September 26th. This trip will be more focused on finding Newfoundland rarities.Of course, we will stop for whatever crosses our path,but our objective will be digging out some of the more difficult to find species. We'll be hitting all the major vagrant hot spots along the southern shore and I'll be doing a lot of talking about how, when and where to find rare birds on the Avalon Peninsula. If this trip sounds like it might be of interest you, I'd suggest you contact me asap, as there are only 2 of 5 spots remaining and it was sold out until I had a couple of cancellations yesterday.Below is the schedule for some upcoming fall birding trips,

August 29th- Southern Shore(Full)- Completed

Spetember 12th Southern Shore: Warbler, Raptors and Shorebirds-(Full)

September 25 or 26th- Southern Shore Vagrant Blitz! (2/5 places open)

October 11th- Southern Shore- Dunlins,Ducks and Sparrows( lots of potential for vagrant warblers and vireos as well!)5/5 places open

I will be announcing additional dates soon, as well as, my ever popular Gull Identification Workshops!

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