Thursday, February 10, 2011

Avalon Peninsula Rarity Round Up

I've been trying for about two hours now to figure out google maps so I could show a fancy map of all the rarities currently residing on the Avalon peninsula of Newfoundland right now, but it seems it doesn't want to cooperate right now, so I guess everyone will have to settle for a write up and some photos, and use your imaginations for the map.

Newfoundland is a well known for hosting unusual combinations of birds from time to time, but currently there is a truly bizarre mix,which covers species from three continents. The list goes something like this, Northern Lapwing,Black-tailed Gull, Slaty-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull,Common Moorhen, Redwing,Yellow-throated Warbler and Common Chaffinch. At first look Common Moorhen seems out of place on this list but believe it or not it's a actually a much rarer bird in Newfoundland than any of the other birds on the list aside from Black-tailed Gull. That of course is assuming this is an American Common Moorhen and not the European subspecies.

Anyway, in my efforts to create a map showing these rarities I calculated the distance Newfoundland birder would have to travel round trip to see the birds listed above and came up with a rather ridiculous 22,500 km's or 14,000+ miles!!! That means leaving St.John's flying to England for Redwing,Northern lapwing and Common Chaffinch, then leaving there and jetting off to teh Azores for Yellow-legged Gull (ours are presumed atlantis ssp.). From there off to Florida for Common moorhen and Yellow-throated Warbler. After basking in the Florida sun you fly to Vancouver to tick Anna's Hummingbird,finishing your trip with a stop in Japan for Black-tailed and Slaty-backed Gulls, before the flying across the world back to where you start in St.John's-- talk about jet lag! Of course, currently one could potentially see all of these birds in a single day on the Avalon Peninsula in a 500 km round trip- pretty amazing!

Just to enhance the visual, here a re a selection of photos of the birds mentioned.

Yellow-legged Gull in Newfoundland

Yellow-legged Gull- atlantis ssp, probbaly from Azorean population.

Photo of Black-tailed Gull in Newfoundland

Black-tailed Gull- 2nd record for NL. Lack record in spring of 1998.

Black-tailed Gull, rarity in Newfoundland

Gotta love that bill!!

Slaty-backed Gull in Newfoundland

Slaty-backed Gull- Annual since our first record in 2006. This is about the 14th individual for NL.

Common Moorhen in winter in Newfoundland

Common Moorhen- Oddly rare in NL. Just the third in the last decade.

Redwing in winter in Newfoundland

Redwing- there was a time when Fieldfare was easier than Redwing in NL. Now Redwing is annual with most records December- February.

Yellow-throated Warbler in Newfoundland

Yellow-throated warbler- Annual in NL in late fall. Thi sis oe of three this fall/winter

Anna's Hummingbird in Newfoundland

Anna's Hummingbird- 1st record for NL. There was a rash of Anna's Hummers in mid west and east with many states and provinces getting 1st records. An individual into Fegruary in NL is almost ridiculous!

Photo- Jared Clarke

Common Chaffinch in Newfoundland
Common Chaffinch- 2nd record for NL.Last recorded at a feeder in Middle cove, north of St.John's in 1994? With the numbers of Northern Lapwings, Redwings and way above average numbers of Common Teal, this is about as "wild" a Chaffinch as your ever goning to get in North America.

I'm going to add photos of the Northern lapwing and Anna's Hummingbird tomorrow. I have to process my lapwing photos and have to get permission to add a shot of the Anna's since I didn't photograph that bird. I was too busy soaking in knee buckling views at 60X mag from 30 feet! Also, my camera was broken ;)

I know I keep saying I'm going to write something about gulls, but I really have to be in the right head space to get in depth with gulls and this wasn't the night for that. So maybe I'll get around to it tomorrow. I'm teaching gull identification workshops for the next two weekends so I might as well get warmed up.

Plans for tomorrow...It's a toss up between the usual QV Lake stake out,or I'm considering travelling around in search of wet areas that might be holding Euro Turds, Euro Snipes, Woodcocks, who knows, we dream big here. Then again when you consider the list of birds featured above,it's not that unrealistic.


  1. You got some great shots, Dave. The only things missing are the captions. To find out what I was looking at I had to right click on each photo to read the name of your file. It would be easier if you add an html title tag to each photo, i.e. title="...." Then the name would show up when running the cursor over the photo.

  2. Hi,

    Good point. I'll have to try to figure out how to do that. For now, I'll add captions, Thanks for the comment!

  3. I saw four yellow-throated warblers last week (May 19th) in the headwaters of South Brook off the trail in the Southlands, St. John's. I think they are starting to like Newfoundland's cooler climate? Unfortunately they didn't stick around long enough for my camera to turn on, but they were about 2' in front of me at head level in an alder branch by the brook so I was able to positively identify them.


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