Sunday, 27 April 2014

Eurasian Invasion!!

Over the last few days there have been winds blowing directly from Iceland to the shores of Newfoundland and with those winds come Icelandic and European birds. This is a huge deal to birders and bird photographers here in the province because almost all species from Europe are MEGA rarities for not only Newfoundland but for North America!

                                                                          European Golden Plover

So far almost a dozen European Golden Plovers have been discovered along with not one but FOUR Black-Tailed Godwits! Its rare enough to find one here let alone four of them. A lot of the more experienced birders believe this may only be the beginning of this mini fallout of European birds. The next few days the winds continue to stretch from the shores of Iceland all the way to Newfoundland and as you would imagine I'm not missing a beat of it! Tomorrow as soon as 2:30pm strikes and i get out of school i will be heading out to cover as much ground as possible!

2 beautiful male Black-Tailed Godwits

More to come on this exciting topic!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Cape St.Mary's Ecological Reserve

Monday April 21st Brad & I made our annual trip to Cape St.Mary's Ecological Reserve to photograph the nesting Seabirds and also to try our hand at a few landscape photos while we were there. As usual we were amazed at the number of seabirds that nest on Bird rock and the surrounding cliffs. During the breeding season the cape is home to literally ten's of thousands of nesting Northern Gannets, Murres, Kittiwakes and the list goes on. Its Amazing. 

We had a very early morning, we left Brad's house 4:30am to embark and arrived at the cape just after sunrise. We had hoped for little or no wind so we could focus on the Horned Larks that nest on the barrens at the cape but of course mother nature had other plans. The wind was gusting somewhere around 80km/hr if i had to guess. It was very cold and it didn't feel much like spring. That doesn't stop the birds instinct to claim nesting territory and find a mate!

               Cape St.Mary's lighthouse in the distance. This is the view just to the right of Bird rock.

Bird Rock. 

A 100-metre-tall stack of sandstone that is separated from the viewing area by a gap only a few metres wide.This shot doesn't do it justice for size and sheer number of nesting Gannets. Next trip we will have some more presentable photos of the area when the grass is lush green and the birds are all back from their wintering grounds.

When we first arrived and began our walk out to bird rock we stopped to photograph Horned larks of which have recently arrived to nest for another season. They are usually just out of reach but every now and again you find one that is somewhat more approachable.

Once at Bird Rock we photographed the many hundreds if not thousands of Gannets that have already returned. It is so amazing to watch these large seabirds glide around the large cliffs and headlands with ease. The updrafts allow them to glide and help us get in-flight shots. Also the cliffs and rocks that the birds build their nests on provide interesting backdrops for photography.


In June we will return to photograph the Murres and Kittiwakes which also nest at the cape. When we were there on monday not all the Murres and Kittiwakes were on the cliffs but MANY thousands were on the water below as you can see from the photo below!

Things are now changing on the Island of Newfoundland. Birds like Osprey and Greater Yellowlegs are showing up and bird song once again is filling the woods. I myself have been busy building Tree Swallow boxes with my father and placing them around. Only a few more weeks and the flood gates of bird migration will be opened! 

Black-Legged Kittiwakes

Saturday, 19 April 2014

More Boxes!

Wildlife officer Jessica Belbin and some of her co-workers decided to help place some nest boxes near the Clarenvile area over the last few weeks.  Clarenvile has nice large stands of old forest, not to mention both Boreal & Northern Saw-whet owls have been herd in near by Terra Nova National Park. I am excited to hear if they get any owls! We now have 11 boxes out in that area.

Here are a few photos Jessica attached of her co-workers placing the boxes

Two more boxes have been placed on the lower Salmonier Line, bringing our box total up to 7 boxes along the river valley. Also earlier this week i checked one box which had a squirrel living inside it, another box on Thorburn road was empty.

 (CBC reporter Todd O'Brien helps place another box on the lower Salmonier river)

The short window of time to get boxes out in order to have a chance in being used this season is closing quickly. We still have a few more boxes that are ready to be placed if anyone is looking to help out.

Park warden Mervin Langdon reports nothing of note at any of the 6 boxes in Terra-Nova National Park. He plans to place 2 more boxes this season; Sometime this week i will be heading to Butterpot Provincial Park to check boxes we put there last winter.

Monday morning Brad & I will be doing our annual trip to Cape St.Mary's Ecological Reserve to photograph thousands Northern Gannets, mures, horned larks and caribou.

An old bridge which we cross to place boxes on the salmonier river

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

I'm going to James Bay!

I have some amazing news to announce, in July  I along with a few other lucky individuals will be heading to one of the most amazing places in Canada. From July 13 - August 15 I will be stationed at a remote camp right in the bottom of James bay. James bay is known for the emence numbers of shorebirds that pass through the aera each year at the beginning of their fall migration. From reading others comments and blogs who have been there before. I can expect anything from a yellow rail to a stilt sandpiper! In terms of birding and photography this is AMAZING.  

I have already begun a wish list of species I hope to see but I am keeping my expectations down to a minimal as far a diversity goes and up on numbers. I expect to see literally thousands of shorebirds during the month or so i will be there. 

It seems that I will be doing a fair amount of hiking and walking with hevy packs and almost always wearing rubber boots.
On top of this the misquotes there are apparently in clouds and constantly thirsty for human blood. To anyone else this seems like something they wouldn't enjoy for a weekend let alone 4 weeks! But for me this is a dream come true. When I was in the arctic before I said to myself that I would return. James bay may not be true arctic but it is right inbetwen Canada's boreal forest and arctic tundra so I can't complain. Stay tuned for more information about my trip over the next month or so!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Finally.. Spring Arrives

Winter this year seems to be never ending, friday was our first real nice sunny day with temperatures just slightly above zero. People were out jogging in shorts and tee shirts! The ducks and other birds at Quidi Vidi seemed to be enjoying this sunny day as well. It was my first time shooting in 2014 with out my snow pants and a winters hat on. Below are a few images from Friday evening at the lake.

Drake Northern Pintale

Drake Wood Duck

Only a few days ago i was watching cormorants struggling to survive here in Paradise, this was the first time I've seen cormorants this far inland. Almost all were juvenile.

Cormorants looking lost next to a frozen river last week

 Cormorant next to the Health sciences centre. Another bird that decided to move inland

Monday i head to St.Brendan's Island to search for some possible ivory gulls and any sea birds that are amongst the sea ice. Also i will be dropping off more nest boxes to Terra Nova National Park for anyone who is willing to place one. All the snow must surely be delaying the small owls from nesting and giving us a little more time to place boxes. I am now counting down the days until Brad & I are down on the southern shore photographing everything from Caribou to Horned Larks in just a few weeks!

The excitement of spring!

St.Brendans Island