Atlantic Region: Fall 2020

Fall 2020: 1 Aug–30 Nov

David Seeler

Recommended citation:

Seeler, D. 2021. Fall 2020: Atlantic Region & St. Pierre et Miquelon. <> North American Birds.

The regional bubble maintained through the season for Covid-19 was successful, thus allowing more mobility than otherwise would have been possible. Good weather allowed for continued outdoor activities. An ongoing breeding bird survey in NL tended to increase the number of reports from that province this and last season. Temperature remained at or slightly above normal overall, with minimal changes to average precipitation. To the north of the region, Bruce Mactavish indicated that the shortage of southwest winds in Sep and Oct had a negative impact on the number of vagrants, especially southern warblers to NL. Yet during the season, much of the region was inundated with significant numbers of rarities such as Corn Crake, Common Ringed Plover, Gray Heron, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, Say’s Phoebe, Vermilion Flycatcher, Rock Wren, and Green-tailed Towhee.

Regional Contributors

Patrick Boez, Alvan Buckley, Roger Etcheberry, Alix d’Entremont, Bruce Mactavish, Jim Wilson


Less common than in the other provinces, a Greater White-fronted Goose was present in Bagnall’s Pond, Hunter River, Queens Co, PE 21–22 Nov (Roberta Palmer et al.) while another was found in Hyde Pond, Cornwall, PE 23 Nov (Dwaine Oakley et al.). The Pink-footed Goose previously reported in St. John’s, NL remained at that locale throughout the season. Accidental to NB, a Pink-footed Goose in Woodstock, Carleton Co, 24 Oct (ph. Dorothy Chase) provided that county with its first record. The Barnacle Goose found at Shaw’s Pond, Hants Co, NS 28 Oct–4 Nov (ph. Cliff Sanderson, m. ob.) was a casual visitor to that province. A Barnacle Goose discovered in the Pisquid Wildlife Management Area, Queens Co, PE 7–12 Nov (ph. Lucas MacCormack et al.) provided that province with its second record. A Cackling Goose reported at Sackville, Westmorland Co, NB 13–14 Sep (ph. Jaden Barney, ph. Ted Barney) was considered accidental to the province. Similarly, the report of eight Cackling Geese in the Pisquid River Wildlife Management Area, Queens Co, PE 11 Nov (ph. Dwaine Oakley, Nicole Murtaugh) was an exceptional find. Rare to Newfoundland, a juvenile Tundra Swan was present in Codroy Valley, St. George’s–Stephenville 29 Oct–22 Nov (ph. Tina Randell, ph. Denise McIssaac, ph. Randolph White). Three Tundra Swans reported in NS were considered rare to that province: the first was located at Baker’s Flats, Shelburne Co, 18 Nov+ (ph. Mark & Sandra Dennis, m. ob.), while two Tundra Swans were present at West Chezzetcook, Halifax 30 Nov (ph. Bruce Doucette). A female Northern Shoveler observed at Étang Boulot, St. Pierre Island, SPM 28 Sept—14 Oct (Patrick Boez, Joël Detcheverry) was a rare fall observation. Rare vagrants to the St. Pierre et Miquelon, two Eurasian Wigeon found at Vallée du Milieu, St. Pierre Island, SPM 15 & 17 Sep expanded to a total of five individuals 2 Oct with only one individual being observed 10 & 13 Oct (Joël Detcheverry, Patrick Boez). Five Tufted Ducks were considered early migrants at Kenny’s Pond, St. John’s, NL 3 Aug (ph. Hannah Hynes). Exceptional in fall to NS, one female and two male Tufted Ducks were present in the Antigonish Sewage Lagoons, Antigonish Co, 5–7 Nov (ph. Angela MacDonald et al.), while a pair of Tufted Ducks were last reported at that location 23 Nov (M.A. Boyd). A Ruddy Duck observed in the Borden Lagoons, Prince Co, PE 13 Sep (ph. Donna Martin), and another at Black Pond Bird Sanctuary, Kings Co, PE 31 Oct (Ken McKenna) were very good finds. Rare in NL, a Ruddy Duck was found at Cobb’s Pond Rotary Park, Central Newfoundland–Grand Falls–Windsor 14 Nov (ph. Barry Day).

White-winged Dove, considered rare in NB, was reported twice this season: in the Community of Lameque, Gloucester Co, 13–14 Aug (Lise Savoie, ph. Rosemonde Dugay et al.), and in Harvey, Charlotte Co, 19–20 Sep (ph. Michele Doucet et al.). The White-winged Dove intermittently reported in their yard at Clam Point, Shelburne Co, NS 16–28 Nov (Mark & Sandra Dennis) may have been the same White-winged Dove reported in Barrington, Shelburne Co, 21 Nov (ph. Natalie Barkhouse-Bishop, Wayne Green, Tony Millard). Mourning Dove is considered rare to St. Pierre et Miquelon, where this season several were reported: three intermittently observed in St. Pierre, St. Pierre Island 14 Sep—17 Oct (Valérie Jackman, Patrick Boez, Joël Detcheverry), four individuals in eastern Miquelon Island 12 & 13 Oct (RE), and two on the Isthmus, Miquelon Island 21 Oct (RE).

This was an exceptional season for Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Considered a rare migrant to NB, 12 Yellow-billed Cuckoo were reported. In NS, Yellow-billed Cuckoo is also a rare migrant; 36 individuals were reported there. In NL, where Yellow-billed Cuckoo is considered very uncommon, seven individuals were reported. PE only reported one Yellow-billed Cuckoo through the season. In NS, Black-billed Cuckoo is considered a rare fall migrant; six were reported. Two Chimney Swifts, considered rare to NL, were reported this season: one at The Rock, Signal Hill, St. John’s 19 Sep (Wallace & Karen Randell) and another observed in flight over Cape Spear, Avalon Peninsula 29 Sep (Edmund Hayden). A Rufous Hummingbird discovered in St. Martin’s Parish, St. John, NB 6–9 Sep (Jane LeBlanc, Ted Sears, ph. Jim & Therese Carroll, m. ob.) was not only an exceptional yard bird for LeBlanc, but an extraordinarily casual vagrant to that province.

The first of two exceptional reports for the season came from insular Newfoundland, where a Corn Crake was initially almost stepped upon and subsequently flushed a second time—during a Big Day outing—in the grassy terrain of Cape Race, Avalon Peninsula 26 Sep (Jared Clarke, BM). The Corn Crake remained in the air sufficiently long enough to allow the observers to confirm the bird’s identity, providing the fifth record for the province. A Common Gallinule that lingered into the season at the Salisbury Wetlands, Westmorland Co, NB was last reported 11 Sep (Bill & Marguerite Windsor). The Common Gallinule reported in St. John’s, NL 7 Aug+ (Peter Shelton, ph. Robert Blackmore et al.) was a rare occurrence of the species to the province. Occasional to Prince Edward Island, a Common Gallinule was present at the Borden Lagoons, Prince Co, 29 Aug—19 Sep (ph. Donna Martin et al.). Finally, a juvenile Common Gallinule was found along the French Basin Trail, Annapolis Co, NS 6–8 Oct (Greg Stroud, ph. Larry Neily). Sandhill Crane is now regularly reported on the mainland areas of the region. On Prince Edward Island, Sandhill Crane is considered rare, yet again this year two Sandhill Cranes were present in the Malpeque area, Prince Co, 28–29 Aug (Donna Martin), with five Sandhill Cranes reported in the same locale 5 Sep (Donna Martin). Three lingered in East Point, Kings Co, from late Aug–24 Oct (Martin Cheverie et al.).

Rare to NS in fall, American Avocets were reported at four locations this season: three in Sable Island National Park, Halifax, NS 30 Oct—26 Nov (Greg Stroud), and one each in Lawrencetown, Halifax Regional Municipality 7–11 Nov (Kate Steele, Chris Pepper et al.), on Conrad’s Beach, Halifax 7 Nov (ph. Terry Boswell), and on Cape Sable Island, Shelburne Co, 17–20 Nov (ph. Mark & Sandra Dennis, m. ob.). A Northern Lapwing present at Canso, Guysborough Co, NS 23–30 Oct (Kate Steele, ph. Chris Pepper, m. ob.) was an exceptional find. Curiously, a Northern Lapwing was later found at Maugerville, Sunbury Co, NB 15 Nov (Marc LeBlanc et al.) where it was considered an accidental vagrant. American Golden-Plover is not unknown to insular Newfoundland, yet they surprised everyone this season with more than 1450 individuals on the Burin Peninsula 30 Aug (BM, Ken Knowles, John Wells), and with over 1100 American Golden-Plovers discovered along Cape Race Road from The Drook to Long Beach, Avalon Peninsula 31 Aug (Paul Linegar).

Casual to NL, three Common Ringed Plovers were reported: one heard calling while flying over a yard in Daniel’s Point, Avalon Peninsula 3 Sep (David & Julie Shepherd), one at Argentia, Placentia, Avalon Peninsula 7 Sep (ph. David Hawkins), and a juvenile at Chance Cove Provincial Park, Trinity Bay 12 Sep (ph. BM). An Upland Sandpiper discovered at Étang Boulot, St. Pierre Island, SPM 9 Nov was photographed by a resident, providing the eighth record for the French Islands (fide RE). Considered a rare vagrant to NS, a Marbled Godwit was reported at South Bar, Sydney, Cape Breton Island 8–22 Aug (ph. Steven McGrath, m. ob.). A juvenile Ruff was an unexpected discovery at Port Joli, Queens Co, NS (ph. AE, ph. Sandra & Mark Dennis). Stilt Sandpiper is a rare fall vagrant to the region with NS reporting six, NB three, and Newfoundland reported two. Uncommon to NL, 11 Buff-breasted Sandpipers were reported during the month of Sep. In NS, Buff-breasted Sandpiper is a rare autumn migrant, where this season 22 individuals were reported. One Buff-breasted Sandpiper was reported in Bis Marsh, Westmorland Co, NB 23 Sep where it is considered an uncommon migrant (ph. Pierre Janin). A Willet ssp. inornata found along the Kildare River, Prince Co, PE 29 Aug (ph. Vanessa Bonnyman, Melanie McCarthy) was the first report of that subspecies of Willet for the province. Two “Western” Willets (ssp. inornata) were reported in NB, while in NS, three were found in addition to one frequently reported at Crescent Beach, Lunenburg Co, over the last few seasons.

A Great Skua photographed in Bonavista Bay, Bonavista, NL 14 Aug (ph. Jared Clarke) was identified as a two-year-old banded on Fair Isle, Scotland. Two Great Skuas were present in Bonavista Bay, NL 16 Aug (John Grosse).


I worked for many months on seismic ships off the coast of Newfoundland, mainly along the northeast coast and over the Grand Banks and Orphan Basin, from 20042019. During that period I saw hundreds of skuas. As shearwaters are a main target of skuas,, South Polar Skua is understandably found offshore when shearwaters are present: late May–late Oct. Great Skua is also present during the shearwater season; it is most numerous mid-Aug–late Oct. Migrating adult Great Skuas are easy to identify by their plumage: yellowish streaking on the back and upper wings can be detected at a great range.

During the shearwater season, the lowest numbers of Great Skua are detected in June and July, when adults are at nesting sites. Immatures stay at sea and harass shearwaters. First-summer Great Skuas are dark and usually have no yellow streaking on the upperparts. South Polar Skuas often look all dark, making identification difficult. Great Skuas may make one fast pass by a ship, whereas South Polar Skuas frequently make at least one circuit of a ship, sometimes landing among the shearwaters.

Great Skuas are more likely to go unidentified in summer, but I have seen and photographed subadult Great Skuas offshore in June, Jul, and Aug. The adults start showing up in mid-Aug and are in full migration Sep and Oct. Sometimes in major northeastern storms (following the passage of tropical storms) in Sep, small numbers of Great Skuas can be seen from Cape Spear among large numbers of other seabirds.

Jared Clarke’s superb photos of a two-year-old Great Skua are likely of a bird that was summering in Newfoundland waters. The yellow streaking on the back is the stamp of approval for identification of a Great Skua. The lack of yellow streaking on the upper wings shows its subadult age. In contrast, South Polar Skuas are uniformly dark on the back and upper wing, with a contrasting golden nape patch. Depending on distance, it is often that case that not enough detail is discernible on a skua to make a determination of species.

—Bruce Mactavish


A Great Skua identified and photographed from shore at Baccaro Point, Shelburne Co, NS 23 Nov (ph. Mark Dennis) was an excellent find. South Polar Skua is rare to NB and generally observed within the boundaries of the Bay of Fundy. This season six South Polar Skuas were reported within NB’s waters: one observed offshore of Grand Manan Island, Charlotte Co, 19 Aug (ph. Alain Clavette et al.), four South Polar Skua were observed during a pelagic sortie out of Grand Manan Island, Charlotte Co, 5 Sep (ph. Michel Doucet et al.), and the last was reported along the ferry route from Black’s Harbour, NB to Grand Manan Island 21 Sep (Jim & Jean Wilson). Of the five South Polar Skuas reported within NS waters, all but one were observed within the Bay of Fundy; the other was reported offshore of Baccaro Peninsula, Shelburne Co, 22 Sep (ph. AE, ph. Kathleen MacAulay, ph. Mark Dennis). Razorbill is uncommon in the waters surrounding Prince Edward Island, yet an exceptional count of 2600 Razorbills moving past East Point, Kings Co, was made 29 Nov (Scott Sinclair, Gary Schneider).

A juvenile Sabine’s Gull reported at Head Harbour Passage, Charlotte Co, NB 22 Aug & 7 Sep was rare to that province. Rare to NS as well, a juvenile Sabine’s Gull was present at Waterside Beach Provincial Park, Pictou Co, 15 Sep (ph. Peggy Scanlan et al.), and an adult Sabine’s Gull was observed on Sable Island National Park, Halifax, 19 Nov (Greg Stroud). Little Gull is considered a rare migrant to NB, where two Little Gulls were intermittently reported at Head Harbour Passage, Charlotte Co, (ph. Chris Bartlett et al.) The count rose to three Little Gulls in the same area 4 Sep (ph. Chris Bartlett), with five Little Gulls reported within the area 1 Oct (ph. Chris Bartlett et al.). The last individual was observed in that area 16 Nov (ph. Chris Bartlett). One other Little Gull was reported in NB—in Cap Pelé or at the Cap Pelé Sewage Lagoons, Westmorland Co, 6–11 Sep & 3 Nov (Norm Belliveau, Cécile Léger, ph. Pierre Janin et al.). A Little Gull found at the Borden Lagoons, Prince, PE 22 Aug (ph. Donna Martin) was a rare fall observation.

Laughing Gull bred in NS in the past, and is now considered a rare visitor to that province. This season four Laughing Gulls were reported there: one at Margaretsville, Annapolis Co, 22 Aug (ph. Lyall Bouchard), the next was on Big Island, Pictou Co, 7 Sep (ph. Sarah Foote), and the last two were juvenile Laughing Gulls observed offshore of Jersey Cove, Victoria Co, 9 Sep (ph. Bethsheila Kent). A rare vagrant to St. Pierre et Miquelon, two Laughing Gulls were reported: one observed in flight over La Baie, SPM 14 Aug (Joël Detcheverry), and the other was at Étang Boulot, St. Pierre Island 21 Sep (Patrick Boez, Valérie Jackman, Bernard Verger); both were very good finds. The Franklin’s Gull reported last season at the Borden Lagoons, Prince Co, PE was last observed there 13 Sep (ph. Donna Martin). Another Franklin’s Gull discovered at Bothwell Beach, Kings Co, PE 8 Aug (ph. Roberta Palmer) was well documented and shown to be a different individual, thus providing the second record of the species to that province. A Lesser Black-backed Gull that remained at Étang Boulot, St. Pierre Island, SPM 27 Aug.—11 Nov (Patrick Boez, Joël Detcheverry, Pascal Asselin, Bernard Verger) was a rare occurrence to the French Islands. Exceptionally rare to NL, two Roseate Terns—one of which was banded—were present at Tern Rock, Lower Coast, Trepassey Causeway, Avalon Peninsula 22 Aug (ph. Richard Thomas, ph. BM, Ken Knowles et al.). Both Roseate Terns remained in the area through 29 Aug with the remaining Roseate Tern being last observed 8 Sep (fide BM). Nesting Roseate Terns did well this year in their NS breeding colonies with at least 52 chicks hatching from 49 nests (fide AE). Interestingly, 20 Roseate terns were observed at Cape Sable Island, Shelburne Co, 2 Aug, perhaps suggesting this may become a staging area for this endangered species prior to migrating south (fide AE).


The report of 40 Wilson’s Storm-Petrels observed south of St. Pierre Island, SPM 9 Aug (Joël Detcheverry) was exceptional. Cory’s Shearwater is exceptionally rare to St. Pierre et Miquelon where two were found offshore of Grand Colombier Island 9 Aug (Joël Detcheverry), and four were observed offshore of the French Islands 12 & 15 Aug (Joël Detcheverry). A Magnificent Frigatebird, considered a casual vagrant to NS, fortuitously landed on the ship Beau’s Treasure south of Yarmouth, NS 16 Sep (ph. Julian Donaldson et al.). Also casual to NS, a Brown Booby used the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Early Gray as a landing base for approximately an hour 24 kilometers south of Lockport, Shelburne Co, NS 23 Aug (ph. Chris Matheson et al.). Exceptionally rare to Labrador, reports of a Brown Booby tending fishing traps at Forteau, Labrador–Happy Valley–Goose Bay was verified 1 Sep (ph. Vernon Buckle). Insular Newfoundland also recorded two observations of Brown Booby this season: one was present south of Burego, NL within Newfoundland waters, and the other was observed southwest of Newfoundland, perched on the mast of a ship on the Grand Banks—both were reported mid-Sep (fide AB).

The Gray Heron previously reported last season in NS was relocated at Shipyard Picnic Park, Canning, Kings 22 Aug (ph. George Forsyth, ph. Pauline Meldrum et al.). Great Egret is considered a rare vagrant to the region, so it was noteworthy when 14 Great Egrets were reported this season in NS, three in NB, and two others—one in Newfoundland, and the other on Prince Edward Island. Great Egret is a rare vagrant to St. Pierre et Miquelon, where one was present at Étang Boulot, St. Pierre Island 3–20 Oct (Patrick Hacala, Joël Detcheverry, Valérie Jackman). Little Egret, considered rare to NS, was reported as follows: one at the Port Bickerton Lighthouse, Guysborough Co, 24 Sep (ph. Mike Melchin); a Little Egret was observed along the Caribou Island Dragline, Pictou Co, 17 Oct (Lori Buhlman, Kyle Shaw, Wayne Green, ph. Peggy Scanlon et al.); another was found at Dominion Beach Provincial Park, Cape Breton Island 20–22 Nov (ph. Kenneth MacIntosh et al.), and the last was present in Antigonish Landing, Antigonish Co, 30 Nov (ph. Mike Melchin et al.). Rare to NB, a Snowy Egret was present at Chamcooke Lake, Charlotte Co, 3 Aug (ph. Jane & Richard Tarn). Curiously, Cape Breton Island, NS had a number of reports of Snowy Egret this season—which may have been due to movements of one individual. The Cape Breton observations were at Inverness 8 Aug (Elizabeth Zwamborn), another in the area of New Waterford 29 Sep (ph. Diane Ernst), one at Florence Back Beach 7 Oct (ph. Diane Ernst), one at Lingan Bar, Dominion Beach Provincial Park, 27 & 28 Oct (ph. Monique Vassallo, ph. Steven McGrath et al.), and the last at Homeville, False Bay 17 Nov (ph. Kenneth MacIntosh). Rare to NS, the reports of 32 Little Blue Herons this season was significant, given that an average of 10 to 15 were anticipated per year in the past (fide Ian McLaren).

Little Blue Heron is a rare migrant to NB, where five were reported over the season. Casual to insular Newfoundland, a Little Blue Heron was discovered in Arnold’s Cove, Avalon Peninsula 16–21 Aug (ph. Sara Jenkins et al.). A Tri-colored Heron observed on Bayer’s Island, Martinique, Halifax 4 Oct (ph. Rob Edsall, Brodie Badcock-Parks) was a good find. Two Green Herons were found this season in NS: one at Morgan Falls, Kings Co, that had lingered into the season was last reported 7 Sep (au. Nancy Dowd), and the other was found on the Baccaro Peninsula, Shelburne Co, 5 Aug (ph. Mark Dennis). Both were considered rare visitors to that province. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron also made its presence known this season. Despite being rare to NS, 20 Yellow-crowned Night-Herons were reported, while only two were observed in NB and two Yellow-crowned Night-Herons were also found in insular Newfoundland this season, both jurisdictions where they are considered rare. A rare vagrant to St. Pierre et Miquelon, a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron was present in the Vallée du Milieu, St. Pierre Island 1 Aug.—4 Sep (Joël Detcheverry, Patrick Hacala). The Glossy Ibis reported on Sable Island National Park, Halifax, NS 19 & 26 Aug (Julia Oliver et al.), and the individual found at Chezzetcook Inlet, Halifax, NS 7 Sep (Chris Pepper) were considered very rare fall visitors. Interestingly, insular Newfoundland had four Glossy Ibises reported this season: one feeding on lawns along on Spaniard’s Bay, Avalon Peninsula 12–30 Oct (ph. Alison Mews, ph. Ethel Dempsey), another landed on the lawn beside the lighthouse on Cape Race Road, Avalon Peninsula 16–21 Oct (Cliff Doran et al.), and the last Glossy Ibis was located in Pleasantville, St. John’s 21 Oct (Fred & Colleen Wood, Heather King). These were particularly rare fall vagrants to that province.

The Black Vulture reported last season at Dingwell’s Mill’s, Kings, PE was last reported 11 Nov (ph. Roberta Palmer et al.). A Black Vulture first observed in Sydney, Cape Breton Island, NS 14 & 20–27 Aug (ph. Allan MacSween) was followed by reports of two Black Vultures at Glace Bay, Cape Breton Island, NS 28 Aug and one Black Vulture in the same area 31 Aug (Allan & Kathy Murrant). The occurrence of Turkey Vulture on Prince Edward Island has increased in the last couple of years, where it had been considered rare in the past. This season, two Turkey Vultures were observed at Ellerslie-Bideford, Prince Co, PE 15 Aug (Melanie McCarthy); two were subsequently present at nearby Kildare, Prince Co, PE 23 Aug (Dan McAskill, Donna Martin), and a Turkey Vulture was found in the same area 6 Sep (Finton MacKinnon). Golden Eagle is a rare migrant for NB, where one was found at Hampton Parish, Queens, 19–20 Nov (ph. Scott Makepeace). Rare to NS, this season 18 Cooper’s Hawks were reported through the season. Red-shouldered Hawk, rare to NB, was reported twice this season: one along Black Road, St. John 1 Sep (ph. Jim & Therese Carroll ), and the other, a juvenile, was observed by members of the Greenlaw Mountain Hawk Watch in St. Andrews 5 Sep (fide Todd Watts). A juvenile Broad-winged Hawk was found at Priest Pond, Kings Co, PE 16 Aug (ph. Donna Martin). Red-tailed Hawk is quite rare to NL this time of year, where two observations were made: a Red-tailed Hawk was located along Battery Road, Labrador–Happy Valley–Goose Bay 22–23 Oct (Vernon Buckley), while the other was observed flying south at South–Coast–Channel, Port aux Basques 21 Nov (Jared Clarke). Exceptionally early, a Snowy Owl was present at Sable Island National Park, Halifax 12–23 Aug (fide Greg Stroud).

Red-headed Woodpecker, rare in NB, was reported three times: one in a backyard in Quispamsis, Kings Co, 6 Oct (ph. Christine Nisbet), another at Fundy National Park, Albert Co, 7 Oct (ph. Paul Langelaan), and one in Hillsborough, Albert Co, 19–28 Nov (ph. Michel Doucet, Gilles Belliveau et al.). Rare to NL, a juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker was present in Codroy Valley 12–13 Nov (Pat Brooks, ph. Janice Flynn et al.). Red-bellied Woodpecker is considered a rare migrant to NS, where it was reported 17 times this season; in NB it is considered rare, and there were five reports of the species. A Red-bellied Woodpecker in Montague, Kings, PE 14 Nov.+ (ph. Dale Murchison) was a rare visitor to that province. A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker found in Northern Langlade, SPM 2 Oct was not only rare to the French islands but very late in the season (fide RE).

Casual to NB, an Ash-throated Flycatcher discovered in the yard of Clarence Cormier in Grande–Digue, Kent Co, 6–11 Nov (Clarence Cormier, ph. Gilles Belliveau, m. ob.) was well studied. Quite rare within NS, an Ash-throated Flycatcher reported at Port la Tour, Shelburne Co, 6–11 Nov (ph. Julie Smith et al.) provided a sixth record of the species for the province, while another Ash-throated Flycatcher found in Port Williams, Kings Co, 21 Nov (ph. George Forsyth) provided the seventh record, and subsequently, an Ash-throated Flycatcher found in the Town of Canso, Guysborough Co, 10 & 12 Nov provided that province with its eighth record of the species. A small number of Great Crested Flycatchers, rare to NL, were reported this season: one individual at Long Beach, Cappahayden, Avalon Peninsula 4 Oct (ph. BM, John Wells, Ken Knowles et al.) while the next day two Great Crested Flycatchers were present at that location (BM, ph. Jared Clarke, m. ob.), and a third individual was discovered two kilometers south of Cappahayden 5 Oct (Jared Clarke, BM). A Great Crested Flycatcher discovered on Cape Miquelon, Miquelon Island, SPM 5 Nov (ph. Charlène Jézéquel) provided the French Islands with their fourth record of the species. In NS, where Great Crested Flycatcher is perhaps more common, seven individuals were reported this season. A Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher made an unexpected appearance at Lower Cloverdale, Riverview, Westmorland Co, NB 20–24 Oct (ph. Mac Wilmont, m. ob.). Western Kingbird, a rare fall migrant to NS, was reported six times over the season. A rare vagrant to St. Pierre et Miquelon, a Western Kingbird was present in the town of St. Pierre, St. Pierre Island 13 & 14 Oct (ph. Patrick Boez, Joël Detcheverry). A Western Kingbird was found dead at Larch Place, St. John’s, NL 5 Nov (fide Chris Brown). Another at Black River, St. John, NB 14–15 Nov (Joanne Savage, David Putt, m. ob.) had been present for a few days earlier, according to local residents. A Least Flycatcher observed at Bear Cove, Port aux Basques, NL 21 Oct (ph. Denise McIsaac) provided the province with its third latest record (fide Lancy Cheng). Especially rare, and late in the year, an Eastern Phoebe was found at Bear Cove, Avalon Peninsula, NL 10 Nov (ph. Charles Fitzpatrick, AB, ph. Frank Kink). Excitement no doubt followed the discovery of a Pacific-slope Flycatcher at Sable Island National Park, Halifax, NS 10 Nov—6 Dec (Zoe Lucas, au. ph. vt. Greg Stroud). Its male position call was recorded and transcribed into a spectrogram, which, along with video and photographs, were critically examined and confirmed the province’s first record of the species.

A Say’s Phoebe present at Hape’s Point, Guysborough Co, NS 23 Sep (ph. Rick Whitman, ph. Jake Walker et al.) was an exceptional find. A Vermilion Flycatcher was also an exceptional find at Stephenville, NL 18 Nov.+ (ph. Kathy Marche, m. ob.) and provided the province and the region with their first records of the species, as well as providing Canada with its 15th record.

White-eyed Vireo, rare in NB, was present on White Head Island, Charlotte 21 Sep (Jim & Jean Wilson), another—perhaps the same individual—was observed in White Head Village, White Head Island 9 & 15 Oct (Roger Burrows). Casual in Newfoundland, a White-eyed Vireo was located on Cape Spear, Avalon Peninsula 4 Oct (ph. Frank King, ph. Shawn Fitzpatrick, ph. Charles Fitzpatrick), with two White-eyed Vireos found along Powles Head Road, Trepassey, Avalon Peninsula 5 Oct (Les Sweetapple, Keith Fillier). An accidental vagrant to St. Pierre et Miquelon, a White-eyed Vireo photographed in the Northern Langlade region of Miquelon Island 10 Oct (ph. PL) provided Miquelon Island with its first record of that species. A Bell’s Vireo, casual to NS, was an excellent find in Sydney, Cape Breton Island 22 Nov (ph. Steven McGrath, David Bell). Yellow-throated Vireo is exceptionally rare to St. Pierre et Miquelon, with one being located in the Vallée des 7 Étangs, St. Pierre Island 12 Oct (ph. Joël Detcheverry, Patrick Boez), providing that jurisdiction with its third record of the species. A Philadelphia Vireo located at West Tracadie Harbour, Queens Co, PE 1 Sep (ph. Ken McKenna) was a rare fall observation. Both NS and NL experienced a significant incursion of Warbling Vireos this season, considered rare to each province. Fifteen Warbling Vireos were reported within insular Newfoundland, while NS enumerated 11 Warbling Vireos over the season. Warbling Vireo is casual to St. Pierre et Miquelon, where 3 reports—possibly of the same individual—were made in the vicinity of the town of St. Pierre, St. Pierre Island 25 Sept., 5 & 12 Oct (Joël Detcheverry).


A juvenile Purple Martin present on Sable Island National Park, Halifax, NS 21 Aug (Hannah Drake, Rebecca Jardine, Sydney Bliss, Greg Stroud) was a rare and unexpected find. Occasional to Prince Edward Island, two White-breasted Nuthatches were observed this season: one was in Rocky Point, Queens Co, 3–10 Oct (Lois Doan), and the other was present in Montague, Kings Co, 14–16 Nov (ph. Dale Murchison). Exceptional to Prince Edward Island, a Rock Wren discovered by a visiting birder along the rocky shoreline of North Cape, PE 20 Nov.+ (ph. Grant Milroy, m. ob.) provided excellent views to all and become the first record of the species to the province. Quite rare in summer to NS, a pair of House Wrens lingered briefly into the season at Woodville, Kings Co, 1–2 Aug., and the subsequent eight House Wrens reported through the season were considered rare autumn migrants. House Wren is also considered rare to NB, with four House Wrens being reported within that province this season. Casual in Newfoundland, a Marsh Wren was discovered at Grate’s Cove, Avalon Peninsula 13 Oct (ph. Jared Clarke). Two Marsh Wrens, rare vagrants to NS, were reported this season: one in the Town of Canso, Guysborough Co, 24 & 26 Oct (ph. Ken McKenna, ph. Jason Dain), and the other in Broad Brook Wetlands, Yarmouth Co, 19–30 Nov (ph. Ervin Olsen). Carolina Wren, considered rare to NS, made an exceptional incursion into that province, where 21 Carolina Wrens were reported throughout the season. In NB, where Carolina Wren is considered a rare migrant, the species was reported three times: the individual previously reported in summer at Riverview, Albert Co, lingered into the season through 4 Aug (ph. Paul Langelaan); a Carolina Wren discovered in Fredericton 14 Sep was an exceptional yard bird (Christopher Adam); and the last Carolina Wren was briefly present in Hillsborough, Albert Co, 24 Oct (Alain Clavette).

Northern Wheatear was reported in Newfoundland with an individual on Cape Bonavista, Bonavista Peninsula 6 Sep (David Smith), and another present on Cape Spear, Avalon Peninsula 27 Sep (ph. Alex McInnis). Northern Wheatear were also reported at Volger’s Cove, Lunenburg Co, NS 14–15 Sep (ph. Cheryl Davis, ph. Sebastián Pardo et al.), and along High Marsh Road, Sackville, NB 5 Oct (Marc LeBlanc, m. ob.). A rare for NS Townsend’s Solitaire was reported as a yard bird in Three Fathom Harbour, Halifax 27–28 Oct (Chris Pepper, Kate Steel, m. ob.), while another Townsend’s Solitaire was present on Sable Island National Park, Halifax 8 Nov (Zoe Lucas, ph. Greg Stroud). Grey-cheeked Thrush is casual to NS and not often reported there, so the individual discovered in Armdale, Halifax 1–13 Oct (ph. Sebastián Pardo, ph. Jason Dain, m. ob.) was well enjoyed by many observers. Particularly rare in NS, a Wood Thrush was found at Wolfville, Kings Co, 10 Aug (Jake Walker). Individual reports of Brown Thrasher emanated from Lower West Pubnico, Yarmouth Co, NS 6–8 Aug (ph. Laurel Amirault); Eastern Passage, Halifax, NS 7 Nov (ph. David Currie); and Westport, Brier Island, Digby, NS 19 Nov (Eric Mills)—all rare fall vagrants to that province. Rare in NL, two Northern Mockingbirds were present this season: one at St. Lawrence, Burin Peninsula, 19 Oct & 12 Nov (Lillian Walsh, Shawn Fitzpatrick), and the other in Ferryland, Avalon Peninsula 9–13 Nov (ph. BM, ph. Jared Clarke). One Northern Mockingbird was present at Westport, Brier Island, Digby Co, NS 19 Nov (Eric Mills). A report of 10 Bohemian Waxwings along Strang Road, Prince Co, PE 13 Oct was exceptionally early for the island. Five Evening Grosbeaks present at feeders in Crapaud, Queens Co, PE 19 Oct (Daphne Davey) preceded an explosion of reports of large numbers of Evening Grosbeaks at feeders on the island—an event not seen since 2016. Common Redpolls seemed to invade the region in moderate numbers early as well this year, with both NB and Prince Edward Island reporting the species on 10–12 Oct, while the first report of Hoary Redpoll was in Atholville, Restigouche Co, NB 11 Nov (Lucette Lyons), followed by two Hoary Redpolls reported on Cape Spear, Avalon Peninsula 20 Nov (Terry James). Unusually large numbers of Red Crossbills were reported on St. Pierre et Miquelon 8 Aug.+ this season, where in some instances adults were observed feeding young, suggesting breeding of the species on the French Islands— although this had not yet been documented (fide RE).

A Grasshopper Sparrow located in Taylor Head Provincial Park, Halifax, NS 18 Oct (ph. Phil Taylor) was a very good find. Rare to NS, 11 Lark Sparrows were reported this season in that province. Lark Sparrow is a rare find in NL, where one was discovered in Brook Marsh, Forteau, Labrador–Happy Valley–Goose Bay, NL 18–20 Sep (ph. Vernon Buckle), a second Lark Sparrow was present in Renews, Avalon Peninsula 20–26 Sep (ph. Frank King, ph. Charles Fitzpatrick et al.). The last Lark Sparrow was found at Blackhead, Avalon Peninsula 29 Sep (Jared Clarke). A Lark Sparrow, rare to NB, was observed on Machias Seal Island, Charlotte Co, NB 23 Sept.(Ralph Eldridge). A Lark Sparrow in the area of Étang Frecker, St. Pierre Island, SPM 13 Oct (Patrick Boez, ph. Joël Detcheverry) was a rare visitor for the French Islands. Clay-colored Sparrow is rare to most of the region, yet this season NS reported 14 individuals, while NB tallied five Clay-colored Sparrows, and Newfoundland acquired four Clay-colored Sparrow reports. A Clay-colored Sparrow at Ravenel, St. Pierre Island, SPM 21 Sep (Patrick Boez) was rare to that jurisdiction. Rare in NB, eight Field Sparrows were reported in that province; and in NS, where Field Sparrow is considered a rare autumn migrant, a significant number of reports of the species were made through the season.

A Green-tailed Towhee identified in the Italy Cross area, Lunenburg Co, NS 3 Nov (ph. James Hirtle, ph. Eric Mills) had been present according to local residents for a number of days, and provided the province with its fourth record of that species. Eastern Towhee is a rare autumn vagrant to NS, where 10 individuals were identified this season. An Eastern Towhee found along Little Beach Road, Bay View, St. John, NB 18 Oct (ph. Paul Langelaan) was a rare migrant to that province. Yellow-breasted Chat is rare to the region, with excellent numbers being reported this season—NS recorded 21 Yellow-breasted Chats, NL reported seven individuals, and one Yellow-breasted Chat was reported within NB. The Yellow-breasted Chat reported in the area of Étang Frecker, St. Pierre Island, SPM 8 & 9 Nov (Patrick Boez) was a rare vagrant. Individual Yellow-headed Blackbirds were reported at Morien Bay, Cape Breton Island, NS 5 Sep (vt. Cathy & Alan Murrant); Dundee, Richmond Co, NS 7 Sep (ph. Rosemary Burns); Crystal Beach, Halifax 18–19 Sep (Gary Poole, ph. Rob Edsall); Minas basin, Hants Co, 6 Oct (Jake Walker), and at Nappan, Cumberland 10–11 Nov (ph. Shawn Chapman). Yellow-headed Blackbird is considered rare to NL, where a juvenile Yellow-headed Blackbird was present at Greenspond, Greenspond Island, Bonavista Bay 6 Sep (Jon Joy, ph. Crystal Sheppard, BM). A Yellow-headed Blackbird was a brief visitor to feeders in Stratford, Queens Co, PE 18–23 Nov (Dwaine Oakley et al.). An Orchard Oriole was an unexpected visitor to Bidgood’s Park, Goulds, Avalon Peninsula, NL 25 Aug (ph. Glenn Mitchel). Casual to NS, two Bullock’s Orioles were reported: one at Clam Point, Cape Sable Island, Shelburne Co, 31 Oct (ph. Mark & Sandra Dennis), and another was present in Brookville, Cumberland Co, where the property owner photographed the Bullock’s Oriole, but did not provide further details (fide Ken McKenna).

A Northern Waterthrush last reported in Miquelon, Miquelon Island, SPM 3 Oct (fide RE) provided a record late date for the species. A warbler initially thought to be a Golden-winged Warbler discovered at Pubnico Point, Yarmouth Co, NS 7 Sep (ph. AE, ph. Kathleen MacAulay, ph. Mark Dennis, ph. Mike MacDonald) was quickly identified as a Golden-winged x Blue-winged Warbler hybrid, also known as Brewster’s Warbler. Five Blue-winged Warblers were observed within NS this season, while PE recorded its first fall, and third overall, provincial records of Blue-winged Warbler when one was found within the Prince Edward Island NP 5 Oct (ph. Roberta Palmer). Uncommon in fall, two Tennessee Warblers found on North Market Street, in the city of Summerside, PE 3 Oct (ph. Sarah Rainsberger) were also definitely out of place. Rare to St. Pierre et Miquelon, there were eight reports of Orange-crowned Warbler—perhaps all of the same individual—in the area of La Reserve, St. Pierre Island, 4 Oct.—23 Nov (Joël Detcheverry, Patrick Boez). Kentucky Warbler is rare to NL where one was located in alders at Bear Cove, Baie Verte Peninsula 21 & 25 Aug (ph. BM et al.). A Hooded Warbler present at Cape Forchu, Yarmouth, NS 23 Sep (Ronnie d’Entremont) was a very good find. A male Black-throated Blue Warbler was a rare find at Cap Noir, St. Pierre Island, SPM 13 Sep (ph. Patrick Hacala, Patrick Boez). A Black-throated Blue Warbler observed at Kelly’s Brook, St. John’s, NL 11 Oct (Blair Flemming et al.) was an exceptional fall find for the province. Pine Warbler is casual to St. Pierre et Miquelon, where two individuals were reported this season: an adult in the area of Étang Boulot, St. Pierre Island 12 Oct., and a juvenile was found to be present in the same local 8 Nov (Patrick Boez, Joël Detcheverry, Valérie Jackman). Casual in Prince Edward Island, a Pine Warbler was found along Glencoe Road, Queens 27 Nov (ph. Donna Martin, Roberta Palmer). Pine Warbler is rare to NL, so the reports of 10 individuals on insular Newfoundland this season were exceptional. Similarly, a rare migrant to NS, 26 Pine Warblers were reported throughout the season.

Yellow-throated Warbler, considered rare to NS, made a good appearance within that province, where six individuals were reported this season. A Yellow-throated Warbler found in Virginia River, St. John’s, NL 19–28 Nov (David Smith, ph. Alison Mews, m. ob.) was a well-documented rare vagrant to that province. Eight Prairie Warblers were reported in NB this season, where their occurrence is considered rare. Prairie Warbler is a rare vagrant to St. Pierre et Miquelon, where one was found in the town of St. Pierre, St. Pierre Island 5 Oct (Joël Detcheverry), and another was discovered at Étang Boulot 8 Nov (Patrick Hacala). In NS, a Prairie Warbler on Sable Island National Park, Halifax 1 Nov.+ was briefly joined by a second Prairie Warbler 7 Nov (Greg Stroud). Perhaps more astonishing were the 13 Prairie Warblers insular Newfoundland documented, where they are considered rare. A Townsend’s Warbler that lingered in the area used by members of the Greenlaw Mountain Hawk Watch, Charlotte Co, NB 12–14 Oct (fide Todd Watts) was a rare visitor to that province. A Townsend’s Warbler found at Crystal Crescent Beach, Halifax, NS 7 Oct (ph. Diane LeBlanc) was a rare visitor to that province as well. Rare to NL, two Townsend’s Warblers were documented this season: an adult female at Cape Broyle, Avalon Peninsula 26 Oct & 11 Nov (ph. Jared Clarke, ph. Frank King, ph. Charles Fitzpatrick et al.), and the other along Bay Ridge Road, Ferryland, Avalon Peninsula 16 Nov (Vernon Buckle, Megan Boucher, Catherine Barrett, BM et al.).

Summer Tanager, considered a rare vagrant to St. Pierre et Miquelon, was reported twice this season: one on Cape Miquelon, Miquelon Island 4 Oct (ph. Charlène Jézéquel), and the other, a male, in the town of St. Pierre, St. Pierre Island 28 Oct (ph. Laurent Malthieu). A Summer Tanager was discovered at the Old City Dump, Halifax, NS 5 Oct (Diane LeBlanc, Jason Dain), while another was found on Seal Island, Yarmouth Co, NS 15 Oct (Eric Mills). The eight Scarlet Tanagers NS recorded this season were considered rare migrants to that province. Also rare to NL, six Scarlet Tanagers were recorded over the same time frame as the NS birds. The actual number of Scarlet Tanagers around Étang Frecker providing multiple sightings 3–10 Oct (Patrick Boez, Joël Detcheverry) was unknown, but multiple individuals were stated to be present (fide PB). Casual to NS, single Western Tanagers were reported present at the Jeddore Oyster Ponds, Halifax 5–9 Nov (ph. Monica Johnny, m. ob.); West Pubnico, Yarmouth Co, (ph. Ronnie d’Entremont et al.); and in Sydney, Cape Breton Island 29 Nov (ph. Bill Bailey). A female Northern Cardinal, rare to insular Newfoundland, was discovered at Little St. Lawrence, Burin Peninsula 12 Nov (Shawn Fitzpatrick). Casual to NS, a Black-headed Grosbeak at Woods Harbour General, Shelburne Co, 28 Oct (ph. Kathy Johnson) was a very good find. Rare to the region, NS reported four Blue Grosbeaks this season, NB recorded two individuals, and one Blue Grosbeak was found on insular Newfoundland. A Painted Bunting at Cow Bay, Halifax, NS 8–11 Nov.(Nick Hawkins, m. ob.) provided excellent views for all observers. Dickcissels staged an invasion this season: there were five in NB, 10 in NL, 14 in NS, and one in SPM.

Report processed by Randi Minetor, 5 Feb 2020.

Photos–Atlantic Region: Fall 2020

Hover or click on each image to read the caption.