Thursday, 28 May 2015

Birdathon Starts Tomorrow

Catherine Barrett and I will be starting the clock tomorrow evening around 17:00! Over the following 24 hours we're hoping to see 3 species of owl, 10 species of warbler, among 62 other species to bring us to our goal of at least 75 species!

I've spent a silly amount of time in the last few weeks scheming about our best route, and where we can get each species. It'll be fun to see how the day plays out. At least I can guarantee that I'll be taking in a few good doses of caffeine!

Check out our Birdathon page here:

Northern Waterthrush - one of our guaranteed warbler species

Tufted Duck - they over-summered last year at Mundy Pond. But none have been seen there lately. Thankfully there are 2 others at another location.

The bird our team is named after - Greater Yellowlegs, aka The Twillicks!

Last year Yellow Warblers showed up really late - and it was almost a stretch to get them on the last day of May. This year they're already ubiquitous everywhere you go.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Mistaken Point Fossils

Made a long overdue trip to Mistaken Point today with 2 friends from Ontario.

This site is home to the worlds oldest fossils of complex lifeforms - 575 million years old! It is on the Southern Avalon along the Cape Race road. Daily guided hikes (free of charge) take you to the impressive display of literally thousands of exposed fossils.

I've seen many photos and videos of these fossils, but in real life they were much more impactful. Although photos can pick up the details of a single specimen, it's the number of fossils in the area that is truly breath taking and make the walk to the point worthwhile. Not to mention the good birds we saw along the way: Willow Ptarmigan (on a nest!), Merlin, American Pipit, among others.

This last fossil shows a ring like structure that is thought to be the base of the "leaf" that extends upwards, similar to seaweed this base would have held the organism to the seafloor.

Here's a short clip narrated by none other than David Attenborough about these very fossils:

Rusty Blackbirds have returned to the Avalon recently:

Also saw my lifer Brown Elphin the other day - poor photo but a beautiful butterfly!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

May 12 Pelagic Trip

Things lined up today to finally allow me to join Ian Jones on one of his semi-regular pelagic extravaganzas. We spent the day, with Neil Aitken, roaming the high seas looking for any sort of wildlife and cool scenery.

The seabird colonies in the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve were teaming with alcids. Other highlights included 2 small icebergs, amazing coastal scenery, and 16 Red-necked Phalaropes.

Here's the route we took:

Razorbills were concentrated around Pee Pee and Ship island, whereas Common Murres were more numerous around the larger islands (Great & Gull Island):

Bridled Common Murres were nice to see:

The average Common Murre:

Hard to mis-identify this one:

Total fluke photograph of one of the RN Phalarope flocks we came across:

Surprisingly few BL Kittiwakes on the cliff faces.

View of Bay Bulls lighthouse from offshore:

One of the breeding islands in the background here: