Waterfowl through Sandpipers
Casual visitors to NB, single Greater White-fronted Geese were at Fredericton 27 Sept. (Don Gibson) and at Saint-Édouard, Kent 3–5 Oct. (ph. Stuart Tingley et al.). Rare to NB, a Pink-footed Goose first reported in the Fredericton area 3 Nov. on private property (fide Nathan Staples) lingered in the region (Moira Campbell, Karen Miller, m. ob.) through 26 Nov., when it was last observed at Grand-Barachois, Westmoreland (ph. Scott Makepeace). Although increasingly reported in NS, Pink-footed Goose is considered a rare vagrant to that province as well, with one found at Cape John, Pictou 14–26 Nov. (ph. Fred Mackenzie, ph. Ken McKenna et al.). A male Tufted Duck was present at the Glace Bay S. T. P., Cape Breton, NS 1–24 Oct. (D. M.). Ruddy Duck is a rare visitor to PE, so a male observed at the Borden S. T. P., Prince 30 Sept. (ph. Ron Arvidson) was a good find. Exceptional was an imm. male Rufous Hummingbird at Iona, Victoria, NS 18 Aug. (Neila MacLellan, D. M.). This report was followed by that of an ad. male Rufous Hummingbird at Central Grove P. P., Digby, NS (Donald Sutherland, Laura Humphrey). More astonishing was the discovery of a Calliope Hummingbird in Middle W. Pubnico, Yarmouth, NS 21 Oct. (ph. Arthur d’Entremont), providing that province with its second record of the species.
Uncommon to NB and NS, Sandhill Cranes appear to be increasing in both provinces. In NS, a single Sandhill Crane lingered at Shubenacadie Wildlife P. through 16 Oct. (fide Jake Walker, m.ob.), while two displaying ad. Sandhill Cranes were observed at Shinimicas, Cumberland 14 Aug. Three Sandhill Cranes observed in Fredericton, NB 17 Oct. (Don Gibson), continued through 22 Oct. in the same area (Karen Miller, David Putt). Five Sandhill Cranes were observed in the Milford-Shubenacadie area of NS 4 Nov. (ph. Steve Hutt), and their number grew to eight individuals by 25 Nov. (Myrna Isensor), though only three continued the following day (Mark & Sandra Dennis). As many as five American Oystercatchers were observed at once at C. S. I., where they breed, with two individuals lingering there through 10 Sept. (m. obs.). Unexpected and very rare to NS was a European Golden-Plover discovered at Miner’s Marsh, Kentville, Kings 4 Sept., which did not linger (ph. Renate Helmsmueller-Young, ph. Charmaine McInnis). A Stilt Sandpiper, considered an occasional vagrant to PE, was reported during a shorebird survey 7 Aug. in the marshes of the Brackley portion of P. E. I. N. P., Queens (David Seeler). Western Sandpiper is rare to the region, so a report of one individual at The Guzzle, Grand Pré, Kings, NS 16 Oct. was well received (ph. Renate Helmsmueller-Young). A Long-billed Dowitcher provided NL with its second fall record when discovered on the sw. coast of the province 4 Nov. (John Tuach, ph. Alvan Buckley). A record late date for Lesser Yellowlegs in NL was established when one appeared at Bear Cove, Baie Verte 5 Nov. (ph. B. M.).
Skuas through Egrets
Uncommon to the region, a single Great Skua was observed at s. St. Pierre I., S. P. M.. (Laurent Jackman). Another was found off Brier I., Digby 9 Sept. (Angie & Tony Millard). Subsequently, another Great Skua was found se. of Miquelon I., S. P. M. 4 Oct.—quite possibly the same individual observed 1 Sept. in that area (Laurent Jackman). A South Polar Skua discovered off G. M. I., Charlotte, NB 30 Aug. was the first reported this season in the province (Ken Edwards, Durlan Ingersoll, et al.). Two South Polar Skuas were located off G. M. I. 31 Aug. (Doug Hendricks, Patricia Langenhahn, et al.). Three South Polar Skuas were observed off G. M. I. 3 Sept. (ph. Sandra Bourque, ph. Andrew McCartney, Marina Bourque), and another was reported in the same locale 10 Sept. (ph. Alan Clavette, Sylvia Craig, Michel Doucet, et al.). Clearly, reports of this species have been increasing within the Bay of Fundy in the fall. Notably late, the last South Polar Skua was observed 220 km se. of C. S. I. 2 Nov. (fide J.L.). Great Skua is considered rare in NS, while South Polar Skua is an infrequent visitor (fide J.L.). During the season, all five species of skua and jaeger were reported in NS waters (see Fig. 1). Long-tailed Jaeger is rare in NS, with single individuals reported off Seal I., Yarmouth 31 Aug. (David Bell, Siobhan Darlington), and 66 km w. of Sable I. during an ECSAS survey 7 Aug. (fide J.L.).
Fig. 1: Reports of Skua and Jaeger Species in Nova Scotian Waters Fall 2016
South Polar Skua
Courtesy of John Loch, NS Birds, ECSAS
Laughing Gull is uncommon in NS in fall, yet five were reported there this season. Two were observed off Yarmouth 1 Aug. (Dave & Jim Beeke), and one was observed at Bon Portage I., Shelburne 31 Aug. (Jake Walker, ph. Phil Taylor). Another was at Merigomish Pt., Antigonish 15 Sept. (Fred Mackenzie, Mark Brennan), and the final NS report of this species consisted of an individual at Martinique Bch., H. R. M. 22 Sept. (Clarence Stevens Sr.) A Laughing Gull was present in the Sackville Waterfowl P., NB 4 Sept. (Gilles Bourque) and another discovered 8 Sept. (ph. RE) was remarkable at S. P. M. An ad. Slaty-backed Gull was found at Quidi Vidi L., St. John’s, NL 23 Nov. (ph. Lancy Cheng). A Gull-billed Tern was unexpected at Bon Portage I., Shelburne, NS 22 Sept. (David Bell). Four Forster’s Terns were reported this fall within the region. An ad. was observed at The Hawk, C. S. I. 5 Aug. (ph. Ken McKenna), an imm. was present at Head Harbour Passage, Charlotte, NB 18 Aug. (ph. Doug Hitchcox, Woody Gillies). Subsequently, there was a late report of a Forster’s Tern along the sw. shore of the Avalon Pen., NL 5 Nov. (ph. B. M.) and a Forster’s Tern observed se. of St. Pierre I. 7 Nov. (JD), 8 Nov. (Laurent Jackman), and 22 Nov. (Patrick Hacala) provided S. P. M. with its third record of the species. A Royal Tern was a surprise discovery on Big I., Pictou, NS 2 Aug. (ph. Ken McKenna). Quite exceptional, a White-tailed Tropicbird was discovered just inside the Canadian Exclusive Economic Zone 380 km s. of C. S. I. 12 Aug. during a NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) survey (M. F.). A Pacific Loon observed from Seal I., Yarmouth, NS 25 Oct. (David Bell) was a good find. Interestingly, a Pacific Loon found off the sw. coast of insular Newfoundland 4 Nov. provided NL with its fourth record of the species (ph. Alvan Buckley, John Tuach), and another individual was discovered at St. Vincent’s B., Avalon Pen., NL 20 Nov. (ph. B. M.), providing the province with its fifth record. Two ad. Northern Fulmars accompanied by an imm. were surprising on Colombier I., S. P. M. 14 Sept., and provided the French island with its first breeding record of the species (fide R. E.).
Rare in NS waters, a Black-capped Petrel located 180 km s. of C. S. I. during the same NOAA/NMFS survey 12 Aug. (ph. M. F.), represented the seventh record for the province. Cory’s Shearwater appears to have become more frequent to NS waters based on eBird reports, while ECSAS observations have only slightly increased, with 470 Cory’s Shearwaters reported during the surveys this season. The most significant reports of Cory’s Shearwater this season originated from S. P. M. and NL. For NL, an unprecedented influx of Cory’s Shearwaters in early Aug. was an exceptional bonus. This included views of one Cory’s Shearwater from land, providing the second land-based observation record for NL. At least another 50 individuals were found off s. and e. NL during the same time period (fide Alvan Buckley). Meanwhile, several sightings of Cory’s Shearwaters were noteworthy off St. Pierre I., S. P. M., including single birds s. and sw. of the island 15 Aug. (JD) and 28 Aug. (ph. RE), respectively, and a total of 5 more discovered on the latter date s. of the island (J. D.). An incredible occurrence of at least 100 Cory’s Shearwater was an exceptional surprise for JD off the e. coast of the Isthmus, Miquelon I., S. P. M. 1 Sept., given the previous extreme rarity of the species for S. P. M. Manx Shearwater remains uncommon in NS waters, with six individuals reported via NOAA surveys. Considered very rare to NS, but likely more common in warm waters far offshore, 11 Audubon’s Shearwaters were observed, some photographed, s. of C. S. I. in Canadian waters around 21 Aug. during the NOAA survey (M. F.). During the same NOAA voyage, a Barolo Shearwater—quite rare to NS—was observed 12 Aug. s. of C. S. I., providing a seventh record for the province (ph. M. F.). Rare to NS, but perhaps more regular far offshore, 2 White-faced Storm Petrels and 4 Band-rumped Storm Petrels were very good finds the same day, within the same locale, 350 km s. of C. S. I. (ph. M. F.). Rare to NS, but becoming more numerous in recent years, a Brown Booby provided the seventh record for the province when found around the Canso Causeway 28–30 Oct. (ph. Peggy Scanlan, m. ob.).
An American Bittern provided S. P. M. with an exceptionally late record when noted in St. Pierre, St. Pierre I. 30 Nov. (Patrick Hacala). Regional dispersion of egret and heron species was typical this season with the exception of Cattle Egret which is exceptionally rare to Newfoundland and S. P. M. (see Fig. 2).
Figure 2: Regional Occurrences of Egrets and Herons — Fall of 2016
Little Blue Heron
Flycatchers through Grosbeaks
A Great Crested Flycatcher was a pleasant find for PE at Campbell’s Cove, King’s 29 Aug. (Ron Valentine), and provided the province with its first fall record. An unexpected vagrant to NS, a Hammond’s Flycatcher banded by Atlantic Bird Observatory researchers on Seal I., Yarmouth lingered 14–15 Sept. and provided the province with its fifth record (ph. Lucas Berrigan, Ari Rice). Also completely unexpected, a Hammond’s Flycatcher discovered within the Fundy N. P. 12 Nov. provided NB with its first record of the species (ph. J. W.). Amazingly, a Gray Flycatcher provided NS and Atlantic Canada with a first record when found on Sable I., H. R. M. 11–20 Nov. (ph. Greg Stroud). Several White-eyed Vireos, considered quite rare to most of the region (excepting NS), were reported this season. The first was observed at Campobello, Campobello I., Charlotte, NB 27 Aug. (Andrew Albright); another was found along Red Point Rd., G .M. I. 16 Oct. (Durlan Ingersoll), and perhaps the same individual was reported at Seal Cove, G. M. I. 17 Oct. (ph. Jenifer Pierce, Mark Morse). Three White-eyed Vireos were found in the northern part of G. M. I. 17–21 Oct. (fide J. W.). Another was a significant find on St. Pierre I. 28 Oct., providing S. P. M. with its fifth record of the species. A Bell’s Vireo discovered in Dartmouth, NS 26 Oct. lingered through 11 Nov. (ph. David Currie, m. ob.) and provided the sixth record for the province. Uncommon to NB in fall, a Yellow-throated Vireo was a surprise discovery at the Ferry Terminal on G. M. I. 15 Oct. (JW, Roy Lapointe, Jim Edsall). Cave Swallow is very rare to NB, and one located at Cocagne, Kent, 11–12 Nov. (Émile Cormier, ph. Stu Tingley, et al.) provided the tenth record for the province. Rare and unexpected, 2 House Wrens were reported in NB this season: one along Lorneville Rd., St. John 30 Oct. (ph. Gilles Belliveau), and another at the Salisburg S. T. P., Westmoreland 17 Nov. (ph. Bill Winsor). Carolina Wren is a rare vagrant to NS, so one individual located at Cape Forchu, Yarmouth 24 Aug. (ph. Ervin Olsen) and another banded on Brier I., Digby 28 Aug. (ph. Peter Comeau) were both unexpected. A hatch-year Smith’s Longspur photographed at West Head, Queens, NS 11 Oct. (ph. Russel Crosby) was only identified a month later when the photographs were reviewed, providing the province and the region with its first record.
An influx of Field Sparrows into NS was unusual, with at least 10 individuals reported throughout Oct. Otherwise, only one Field Sparrow was observed in NB on G. M. I., Charlotte, 17 Oct. (JW, Roy LaPointe, Jim Edsall). Good finds were two Grasshopper Sparrows—one observed in Point Pleasant P., Halifax, NS 26 Oct.–2 Nov. (Andy Horne, m. ob.), and another recorded during nocturnal migration at Carleton, Yarmouth, NS 8 Nov. (John Kearney). Rare and unusual vagrant warblers were present in both NB and NS. A rare reverse migrant to NS, a Worm-eating Warbler at Three Fathom Harbour, H. R. M. 30 Aug. was a good find (Chris Pepper, ph. David Currie). Three Prothonotary Warblers were reported in NS: an individual lurking at Hartlen Pt., H. R. M. was found 21 Aug. (ph. Jim Edsall); the second was observed on Bon Portage I., Shelburne, 12 Sept. (David Bell); and flight calls of Prothonotary Warbler were recorded by the Nocturnal Migration Station in Carleton, Yarmouth, 22 Sept. (John Kearney). Connecticut Warbler is exceptionally rare to NB in fall, and one was reported in the Anchorage P. P., G. M. I. 15 Sept. (ph. Mark Morse). Similarly rare, a McGillivray’s Warbler present in Dartmouth, H. R. M. 1–13 Nov. (ph. David Currie, m. ob.) provided NS with its second record of the species. Kentucky Warbler is a rare vagrant to NS, so two Kentucky Warblers banded by the Atlantic Bird Observatory research group were exceptional: one individual was present on Seal I., Yarmouth 21–22 Aug. (David Bell, Siobhan Darlington), and the other was on Bon Portage I., Shelburne 24–30 Aug. (Lucas Berrigan et al.). The breeding population of Cerulean Warblers has declined significantly, so hatch-year females observed in NS on Bon Portage I., Shelburne 10 Sept. (A. E., David Bell) and at Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Lr. Sackville, H. R. M. 1 Sept. (Dennis Garratt) were very good finds. Prairie Warbler is a rare fall vagrant to S. P. M. with one present in St. Pierre, St. Pierre I. 18+ Nov. (Patrick Boez, Patrick Hacala, J. D.). Interestingly, 3 Prairie Warblers were reported this season in NB, and NS boasted at least 31 individuals throughout the province. A Townsend’s Warbler was a surprise find in Barrington, Shelburne, NS 9 Nov. and did not linger (ph. Ervin Olsen). Exceptionally out of place was a Hermit Warbler discovered at Mobile, Avalon Pen. 11 Nov., NL’s second record of the species (ph. B. M., ph. Jared Clarke). Another, or likely the same Hermit Warbler was observed along Cod Seine Rd., Avalon Pen., NL 12 Nov. (Andrea Dicks, m. ob.). At least 5 Blue Grosbeaks were present in NS this season: the first, an ad. male, was located near Fairview, Halifax 13 Sept. (David Currie); another individual was found in early Sept. on Bon Portage I., Shelburne (David Bell); an ad. female was present on Daniel’s Head, C. S. I. 19 Oct. (Ronnie d’Entremont); and, lastly, a late female was found 7 Nov. in Port Latour, Shelburne 7 Nov. (Mike MacDonald, ph. Mark Dennis).