Thursday, February 4, 2010

Plague of Eagles

This has not been a good week for gull watching in St.John's. Each day the lake has been frequented by several Bald Eagles. When an eagle even approaches Quidi Vidi lake from a distance everything flushes, well all the gulls at least. This is common at this time of year as the eagles come to the lake to scavenge on the remains of gulls carcases. As if that wasn't enough,even when small flocks of gulls did manage to form,the sun is so bright that it is nearly impossible to view them!

Since the gull watching has been bad I have resorted to photographing our flock of diving ducks. There was a high count of 72 diving ducks in town earlier in the winter,comprised of no less than 34 Tufted Ducks, about a half dozen Lesser Scaup and the rest Greater Scaup. With the deep freeze of the last two weeks,some of these ducks seem to have moved on,but there is still plenty of each around and are not quite tame and tolerant of people. I know evertone is probably getting sick of Tufted Duck photos,but here a few more,these will probably be the last until next year..maybe...

Even with the constant eagle flushes,there have still been a few interesting gulls around,including the bird featured below. This is a fairly typical 1st winter Kumlien's Iceland Gull,aside from the fact that it has exceptionally dark primaries. more exceptional than the color of the primaries is their stark contrast to the rest of the bird. We often get 1st basic kumlieni with dark brown primaries,but in these cases the rest of the bird is dark as well. This bird is quite pale and cold colored overall, aside from those nice rich,chocolate brown primaries- a cool bird and perhaps the first I've seen that look quite like this.

Unfortunately,this is about as exciting as it has gotten for me around here recently. I would like to say though that I'm currently planning lots of events for this spring and summer. Ever winder what a million Puffins look like? What about 50,000 Gannets? These are just a couple of the events we will be witnessing on my upcoming spring seabird tours.Of course,spring not only brings seabirds it brings renewed possibility for European vagrants. It might seem a little early to speak of spring vagrants,but in just a little over two months European Golden Plovers will be returning to Iceland and some will likely end up right here in Newfoundland! This year I'll be having at least one tour that will take us in search of such European strays,combined with the seabird spectacles. So stay tuned for that one!

Also, this summer I will be offering two full week vacations in western Newfoundland. These will include 5 full days of birding,accommodations,most meals, transportation in western Newfoundland,as well as any associated fees etc. This is by far the most bird rich part of Newfoundland and we'll likely see over a 100 species for the trip,including many boreal specialties. All the details have yet to be finalized,but I can say that this tour will be significantly cheaper than most birding tours and will much more customized to the wants of the participants. I'll be announcing this tour officially in the probably within the next week.

Tomorrow I'm not entirely sure what I'll be doing. I will surely make my daily visit to Quidi Vidi Lake,but after that who knows. if the light isn't too bad I might try to search for some finches to photograph,or maybe just try to some great shots of Boreal Chickadees,which I don't have yet for some reason. Anyway, I'll try to update daily as much as possible,but it's getting tougher now that the winter doldrums have set in. We do,however have a large storm coming from the south west in the next week.If this should just past to the east and position itself,then turn toward Greenland like many of these systems do we could get some strong wrap around NW winds that could bring...dare I say Ivory Gulls........

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