Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I have been waiting for weeks for something to break the late winter birding doldrums- today it finally happened. It was completely random how things played out. Many times my birding outing are planned with military presision.I try to get to best location given the season,winds, current weather patterns etc. All of this planning gives the "prepared" birder an edge over the general enthusiast,who just basically walks the same route every day, or just hits random locations without any thought to the possabilities and or any of the conditions I mentioned above. Well,it seems like it's been a long winter in St. John's,even though it hasn't really been much of a winter at all. However, it's been a while since anything really exciting happened.

The above sentance shows just how jaded a birder can get here in St. John's. I say it's been a while since anything exciting happened. Well it's been only a few weeks since our Ivory Gull bonanza and a couple weeks more since a White-winged Dove turned up( we no longer get very excited over these now annual visitors. A short time before that there was the Slaty-backed Gull, as well as Redwing, a few Lapwings and a Horenmann's Hoary Redpoll!! Anway, none of that means anything to the the seemingly rarity starved birders of "Attu East" as Newfoundland has been referred to in the past.

This is all a long drawn out way of saying that today I was extremely excited to have "luck boxed"( obscure poker term :)) my way into finding a Pink-footed Goose!! There was no planning,no thought and this species certainly wasn't on my radar.So much so in fact that I called resident birder Bruce Mactavish to provide a description,so he could confirm.

What I didn't know is that Bruce had received an email the day previous describing a small Goose near an overpass on the Goulds bypass Rdm in Mt.Pearl! He had even been to the site just 30 minutes before me to check the report but the Goose wasn't there.Well,no matter I was still happy with my "independant" discovery.

After speaking with Bruce I called a couple of other local birders to spread the word,but by this time it was getting dark quick and all the birds ( 20+ Black Ducks and Mallards) had flushed after som kids started throwing rocks into the pond.I stayed around until dark just to advise that I hadn't seen the bird.

I left and headed back to my folks place,where I had left my dog,when I headed out for a quick,random 10 minute check of the area. I was happy to find a nice spread of BBQ waiting for me upon my return- European mega-rarities, BBQ,life is good!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Newfoundland Songbird Workshop

Note** This page will be updated in the near future with current info. If you are interested in learning more about Newfoundland songbirds, you can visit the various other pages on my blog  and if you are interested in birding workshops or a private guided Newfoundland birding experience, please see the Birding Newfoundland website. The workshop described herein, will be offered again in the future.

In the past I have received numerous emails from people asking if
there was a field guide specifically for the birds of Newfoundland, or
a bird song cd that covered Newfoundland birds only. It was with that
in mind that I have decided to offer a Newfoundland songbird workshop.
This workshop is geared toward beginner and intermediate birders and
will focus on learning how to recognize immediately what type of bird
you are looking at, i.e. Warbler, Flycatcher, Sparrow etc. You will
learn the key features to look for when separating songbirds of
various groups.

This is not meant to replace your field guide,but will greatly
enhance your ability to identify Newfoundland birds. In spring and
summer, most bird identifications are made by song. Knowing a birds
song will tip you off to it's presence and will allow you to key on
specific species. This is especially important if you are trying to
photograph particular species. This workshop will give you a great
start in in Newfoundland bird song ID.

For those of you that participated in the gull workshops,the format
will be very similar.

The workshop will include:

2 (3hr)classroom sessions- Sat May 8th, Sun May 16th, 9:00am-12:00am
1 (4hr) field session- Sun May 16th, 6am-10am
covers identification of about 80 species of songbirds,by sight and
Powerpoint presentation of all material, as well as a cd of recorded
bird songs of all species covered.
Cost: $125

***NOTE*** Terra Nova Birding Weekend participants receive a 50%
discount. Codroy Valley Tour participants receive this workshop for free!!

Attached is an add for the workshop. If you can't identifiy all of these
species at a glance and hear their song in your head,then you will
benefit from this workshop.

Maximum of 9 participants,with a few places already reserved. If you
are interested in this workshop please contact me at asap to reserve your spot.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Looking Forward to Spring and the Codroy Valley

It really feels liKE spring is on the way in Eastern Newfoundland. Temperatures have been above zero for a few weeks and there is very little snow cover left. Much of Newfoundland has no snow cover at all!

Havinf said that the bird scene has slowed significantly and this has gotten me looking forward to the things to come. However,we are seeing some signs of chang,in fact Black-legged Kittiwakes are already streaming back and they will soon be followed by Murres and Gannets. However it is not until the seocnd week of April that we wil see our first song birds. First we will see returning Robins and Fow Sparrows,thsese will be closely followed by White-throated Sparrows,Savannah and Swampers. Also during this time Hermit Thrushes and Ruby-crowned Kinglets will make their ways back to the Avalon Peninsula. All of this activity will cumlinate of the last two weeks of May when the final flood of birds will appear including all of our warblers,vireos and Flycatchers. This is the time to be birding!

I usually try to get to the Codroy valley each year for a couple of weeks in May-June to really experience summer birding at it's best in Newfoundland. This place is pure magic and the birding is like no where else on the island. The density and diversity of songbirds in this area is truly remarkable. For example last year my fiancee and I did a "big day" in this area and tallied 112 species in a single day!! This is the highest single day count ever in Newfoundaland. It was made up of 15+ species of warblers,3 species of Vireo, 8 species of sparrows,5 species of Blackbird,6 species of flycatcher, 5 species of Thrush and the list goes on and on!!

Just a taste of what the Codroy has to offer....

If you'd like to experience this for yourself,along with stunning scenery and amazing,relaxing,birding experience check out my Codroy valley tour in the curent tours offered section above.

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