Wednesday, December 30, 2015

I've realized that many of my pictures are vanishing and being replaced with a triangle. We've contacted Google and they said they will look into it. If nothing happens I will replace these photos when I get back to St John's.
Happy New Year!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Northern Shoveler

Today I went to Bally Haily golf course to look for a Common Moorhen which hasn't been seen in a few days. No luck, but I did enjoy nice views of a female Northern Shoveler. Without it's odd bill a female Northern Shoveler looks like any old pond duck. The bill of the Shoveler is a massive long and wide object - perfect for scooping for through cattails looking for goodies. The shoveler eats small invertebrates and seeds. A photo is below. 


Sunday, November 1, 2015


Diving ducks are one of Newfoundland's many bird specialities. In a day you can see over 50 Greater scaups, 30 Tufted ducks and the odd Lesser scaup. Today I witnessed that. I went over to Kenny's Pond to have a second go at the Ruddy duck which seems to have just stayed for a day. The amount of divers for this time of year was staggering - at least 90 individuals mostly Tufted ducks. 

Greater Scaup

Tufted duck

Monday, October 26, 2015

Kent's Pond

If a human looked like a shoveler is childhood life would be filled with taunting and bullying. Northern Shovelers are a queer looking bird with a large bill that looks like a shovel. I went looking for this oddity on Sunday and had no luck. Northern Shovelers are an annual occurrence in Newfoundland but I really wanted to get a good picture of the bird. Another odd bird is the coot. It's easy to see where the saying "Crazy as a Coot" comes from by just looking at this bird. It has huge webbed feet for it's small chicken like body. I saw two Coots swimming around in the water. Pictures of the Coots and two American Wigeons are below. 
The American Coot

A Female American Wigeon at Kent's Pond
Wigeon doing a head shake

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Little Egrets

This spring has not been overly exiting with Eurasian rarities as last year's was. This was fine, though- I was in Point Pelee enjoying some of the coolest birds ever. But, as this is Newfoundland, rare birds are always coming in. Some even as rare as the Little Egret - one of the most challenging identifications in all North America. Little egrets look almost identical to the Snowy egret. Usually, what makes this easy is that Little Egrets live in Europe and the Snowy lives on the other side of the pond. But when one of these birds show up in Newfoundland it's "get out the scope time and lets look for plumes" - the simplest way to distinguish these birds. Some pictures of this awesome bird as well as other birds that I have seen in St John's, Point Pelee, and Nova Scotia are below.
Wood Thrush
Canada Goose

Mourning Dove
Black and White Warbler
Palm Warbler

Whip or will

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Bully of the Seas at Bay

Yesterday evening a report came in saying that there was a Pomarine Jaeger at the Elks Club just a 10 minute walk from my house. When I got to the Elks Club there was no sign of a large sea bird with a powerful bill. Just a limp wet dirty bird on the ground dead as a doornail. There it was - the bully of the seas. The carcass was in good condition, so I dropped it of at Ian Jones's (who is a ornithology prof here at MUN) house. A photo of the bird is below.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Tufted ducks

Every where else in North America you expect to see Mallards and Black ducks at your local duck ponds, but in Newfoundland things are a bit different. When you go to local ponds you can expect to see some very neat and in everywhere else in the country rare birds. Birds such as Northern pintails, Lesser black-backed gulls, Tufted ducks, Eurasian wigeons and Iceland gulls. Tufted ducks are a major attraction for eco tourists to St John's. Tufted ducks or Tufties are a lot like a scaup - small, they have black on them and they usually flock together. At places like Quidi Vidi lake, Burtons pond and Long pond finding Tufted ducks is usually a simple task.

A Tufted Duck.

A common gull of the atlantic - The Herring gull

A stylish Tufted duck

A Borea chickadee

A Northern Pintail
A Dark-eyed junco

American wigeon the cousin of the Eurasian wigeon

A American wigeon

Saturday, April 18, 2015


This is a posting to keep this blog going. Some pictures from this week are below.
                                         A Ring-billed gull at Burtons Pond
                                          A Northern Pintail
                                          A Ring-billed gull. A sign of spring.
                                          Spring Crocuses

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Cold Cape Spear

I haven't been birding a lot lately because birding has seemed to slow down. Their are not many rare birds around and its pretty cold around here.  Never the less on Saturday I went out to Cape Spear to look for some birds. Their was loads of wind and it was blowing so hard it almost knocked over my scope. Their is usually quite a bit if bird action here in the woods on the way up to the cape but today it looked dead. No drumming of woodpeckers on the trees, no song of chickadees and no finches. At the cape though it was pretty good. Two bald eagles were soaring around, many long tailed ducks, a few eiders and some purple sandpipers. Their was 3 King eiders as well. I went down a slippery slope and wiped out. Ouch!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Thrasher on a cold day

A Brown Thrasher is a bird that does not want to be seen. You may wonder how such a streaked and large bird can stay hidden in the shrubbery so well. They make little movement and are quick to flee. Brown Thrashers have quite a singing repertoire and can sing over 1000 bird calls. They can imitate many bird calls, cars and cats. A Brown Thrasher should be in the southern parts of the USA at this time of year. This year a Thrasher made a appearance at Long Pond. I went over to see it on Sunday. Brown Thrashers are a robin sized bird but with a larger tail with hooked looking bill. They are omnivores and feed on whatever they can find in their area - newts, corn, fruit, insects, seeds, grains, eggs, chicks and so forth. The thrasher at Long Pond was quite easy to locate, but he did bolt whenever someone wanted to get a picture of him.
                                                           A thrasher ebird map

Monday, February 2, 2015

Grackles in Newfoundland

In the more southern portion of this continent Grackles are birders biggest enemies. Seed guzzlers and egg killers Common Grackles are feisty birds. In Newfoundland Grackles are quite uncommon. In St John's we have around two flocks of Grackles overwintering. Today I found a flock in Lions Club Park. For those who haven't seen a Grackle. Grackles look like a crow but much smaller and with a shiny, purplish head. In the in other parts of North America Grackles are considered vermin by birders, biologist and feeder watchers. The Grackles range extends over much of North America from Nova Scotia in the east to Alberta in the west. They travel in large flocks and feed on seeds, garbage, insects, fruit and basically anything they can get their beaks on.

These Grackles are feasting on suet!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Southern Warbler in a park

  In the winter Pine Warblers are one of the drabbest looking warblers around. In Newfoundland Pine Warblers are usually seen in the fall, not in January. Pine Warblers are a southern warbler. They eat insects such as larvae and caterpillars. This year a Pine Warbler showed up in Bowering Park, St John's. I went to see this Pine Warbler today. The weather was horrible. It was rainy and then the rain turned into a slushy snow fall. The winds were also horrible, but the Pine Warbler was seen. Considering the Pine Warbler should be in the southern US right now and the temperature here is dropping into the -20s C with the wind chill, the Pine Warbler is probably facing its last few days alive. The Warbler is now living on seeds. That is not a sufficient feed to keep it alive. It really needs lard 24/7 if it is to survive. Bird watchers have put out a suet cake for it. If seen please report to nf.birds!

This weather is bad news for the Pine Warbler
The Pine Warblers range.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Gull Identifacation

Gull identification is one of the hardest aspects of bird watching. There are different winter plumages, hybrids and different plumages for the age of the gull. You could send off the American Bird Alert by thinking a Lesser black backed gull-Herring gull hybrid is a Yellow-legged gull or a Lesser black backed gull is a Slaty black backed gull. Telling by size can be useful but only if the birds are in close range and are standing right next to each other. If you have found an odd looking gull take out your field guide and look at three identification points of the bird - back colour, head pattern and wing pattern.
Back colour:
The back colour is a easy way to distinguished species like Great black backs from Glaucous gulls. It also helps when your looking at a large flock of gulls. Even the smallest change of the shade of grey can mean a different species of gull.
Head pattern:
During the breeding season most species of gull have a white head with the exception of black headed species such as Bonapartes and Laughing. In the winter most of these white heads turn streaky except for some species such as Great black backs and Western gulls. The black headed species get a black blotch on their heads.
Wing pattern:
Most gull species have black wingtips but some species like Iceland gulls and Glaucous gulls have pale wingtips.
Happy New Year!