Atlantic Region: Summer 2020

1 Jun – 31 Jul 2020

David Seeler

Recommended citation:

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

The season continued with the implications of the Covid pandemic strongly factoring in mobility throughout the region. The forming of an Atlantic Bubble (comprised of New Brunswick, Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia, & Prince Edward Island) enabled, for residents of those provinces, travel that otherwise would have been significantly impaired. June temperatures were near normal for the season but rainfall was significantly reduced. This was followed by a very hot July with significantly reduced precipitation through the month. Species of note this season included an errant Rufous Hummingbird in Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island’s first Franklin’s Gull, the unexpected and brief appearance of a Brown Booby in New Brunswick, a Gray Heron – exceptional in the region and new to Nova Scotia – and an errant Fork-tailed Flycatcher in Labrador.

Contributors (Regional Contributors in Bold):

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

Waterfowl through Cranes

The Pink-footed Goose at Burton’s Pond, St. John’s, NL, lingered into the summer, remaining for the duration of the season (AB et al.). A Brant discovered amongst Canada Geese in northern Miquelon, Miquelon Island, SPM 11 Jul was a rare find (RE). 2 male Gadwall, rare in summer, were found in Virginia Lake, St. John’s, NL 3 Jun; one remained 11 Jun (Robert Blackmore, Edmund Hayden et al.).  Another male Gadwall was present in Quidi Vidi Lake, St. John’s, NL 6 –29 June (ph. Frank King et al.). A Eurasian Wigeon discovered along the Cape Breton Causeway, Sydney, NS 1 Jun was a very good find (ph. Tom Callary), and another was in Shoal Pond, St. George’s-Stephenville, NL 7 – 19 Jun (Todd Boland et al.); regionally, this species is exceptionally uncommon during summer. Similarly, the Eurasian Wigeon found at the Hillsborough Waterfowl Park, Westmorland Co., NB 8 Jun (ph. Paul Langelaan, Bill Windsor), as well as Grand Pré Street, Memramcook, Westmorland Co., NB 12 Jun (ph. Ted Barney, ph. Jason Barney) – and one at the Dalhousie Treatment Lagoons, Restigouche Co., NB 17 Jun ph. Andrew Olive) – were unusual  summer visitors. A Redhead, annually reported, but rare in New Brunswick, was present in the Tracadie Lagoon, Gloucester Co. 18 – 27 Jul (Jolande St–Pierre, Denise Godin et al.). 3 male Tufted Ducks found at Kenny’s Pond, St. John’s NL 7 Jul were early for that province (Anne Hughes).


For the last few years, some Tufted Ducks have returned to St. John’s in early July. It is routine among ducks for the males to find a safe place to be for the summer where they can molt and relax in safety. Drake diving ducks are known to travel long distances to find these trusted refuges. Massive numbers of Surf and Black Scoters that nested across North America go the Labrador coast to molt in summer. Through colour banding it was discovered that some Labrador breeding male Harlequin Ducks summered and molted at specific sites on the Labrador coast, while others flew to the west coast of Greenland (!) to molt for the summer. To me, it makes perfect sense that Icelandic-breeding Tufted Ducks, when finished with nesting and on the verge of summer molt (a period when they are flight-compromised), would travel to a site where they are able to winter – i.e. St. John’s. I am surprised more of them don’t take the early flight back to St. John’s… There is a chance these July-returning male Tufted Ducks are birds that bred in Newfoundland or Labrador. That would be exciting.

Because Covid-19 kept me static this spring, I was able to track departing Tufted Ducks in St. John’s. The very last bird was 20 May at Kenny’s Pond; it, a female, was present just one day. In the preceding week, no Tufted Ducks had been present. According to recent trends of Tufted Duck in St. John’s, there should be a small influx during August and September, with the big push following in late October. B. Mactavish


A male and 3 female Surf Scoters offshore at Cape Race, Avalon Peninsula, NL 6 Jun were exceptional finds for that date (Edmund Hayden). 3 male Surf Scoters in Fredericton, NB 1 Jul were well outside their normal seasonal occurrence for the province (Don Gibson). Hooded Mergansers, rare to Newfoundland, were at St. George’s–Stephenville 6 & 8 Jun (Vernon Buckle) and Kenny’s Pond, St. John’s 5 – 12 Jul (Alison Mews, ph. Ethel  Dempsey et al.). A Ruddy Duck discovered in Quidi Vidi Lake, St. John’s, NL 6 – 20 June (ph. Alex McInnis et al.) was a rare summer visitor. The White-winged Dove which visited feeders in St. Peters, King Co.,  PE 29 Jun – 2 Jul was not only a good yard bird – it was also just the province’s 4th record of the species. Rare to New Brunswick, yet observed annually, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo was found at Leaman Hill, Westmorland Co., 10 Jun (ph. Paul Langelaan). Rare also to Nova Scotia, another Yellow-billed Cuckoo was present in Wallace, Cumberland Co., 27 Jun (Lucas Berrigan). A Black-billed Cuckoo, uncommon on Prince Edward Island, was at Mount Carmel, Prince Co., 4 Jun. It, too, was a good yard bird (Jean-François Jetté).

2 Common Nighthawks in Happy Valley–Goose Bay, Labrador, NL 20 Jul were rare (Tony Chubbs). A Chimney Swift in St. Pierre, St. Pierre Island, SPM 1 – 6 Jun (Bernard Verger, Patrick Hacala) was an uncommon summer visitor. Similarly, a Chimney Swift discovered in Loch Lomand, Codroy, NL 3 Jun (David Brown, Helen Norman, Alicia Barrett ), and another at Quidi Vidi Lake, St. John’s, NL 10 Jun (David Brown et al.) were rare summer visitors. A Common Gallinule at Cape Ray, South Coast Channel–Port aux Basques, NL 24 Jun (ph. Kathy Marche) was a rare summer record. Another Common Gallinule was discovered at Virginia Lake, St. John’s, NL 25 Jun+ (Lancy Cheng et al.), reinforcing Newfoundland’s claim of having the most northerly reports of this species. The Common Gallinule located in the Salisbury Wetlands, Westmorland Co., NB 3 – 25 July was an unexpected observation (ph. Paul Langelaan et al.). Sandhill Cranes were fairly regular this season in Nova Scotia, with at least 34 individuals reported. Reports of Sandhill Crane in New Brunswick included an individual in flight in Burton, Sunbury 7 Jul (Nathen Staples) and an individual at Wathen Point, Richibucto, Kent Co. 19 July (Roger Titman).

Hummingbirds through Shearwaters

A Rufous Hummingbird, discovered in Renews, Avalon Peninsula, NL 28 – 29 Jun (Clara Dunne, ph. BM et al.) was an exceptional yard bird, representing the province’s 4th record of the species. An American Oystercatcher found at the Jersey Cove Sandbar, Cape Breton Island, NS 19 Jun (ph. Wayne Green, ph. Bethsheila Kent et al.) was an exceptional occurrence to Cape Breton. An American Golden-Plover, an uncommon and irregular migrant to Nova Scotia, was on Murder Island, Yarmouth Co., NS 19 – 24 Jul (ph. AE, ph. Kathleen MacAulay). Interestingly, the “western” Willet (ssp. inornata) continued into the season, being reported at Crescent Beach, Lunenburg Co., 21 Jun (Eric Mills). Exceptionally uncommon to Prince Edward Island in summer, a Wilson’s Phalarope was present in the Borden Lagoons, Prince Co., 3 – 4 Jun (ph. Donna Martin et al.).  A South Polar Skua observed south of St. Pierre Island, SPM 14 Jul (Joël Detcheverry) was a rare summer vagrant in that jurisdiction. A Pomarine Jaeger observed off Pennat Point, Crystal Crescent Beach, Halifax NS 20 Jun (ph. Bob Edsall) was a lucky sighting: not only is this species rare in summer – it is difficult to observe from land. 2 Parasitic Jaegers reported off North Point, Brier Island, Digby Co., NS 5 Jul (Sarah Gutowsky) were also rare summer reports. A Black-headed Gull, occasional to Prince Edward Island, was found in the Borden Lagoons, Prince Co., 10 Jun (ph. Sharon Clark). In New Brunswick, where the species is rare but annual during the season, a first-summer Black-headed Gull was joined by another at Cape Jourimain, Westmorland Co., 14 Jun (Jaden Barney, Gilles Belliveau, ph. Ted Barney. Rare also in Nova Scotia during summer, 2 Black-headed Gulls were observed on Little Pond Beach, Florence, Cape Breton, NS 12 Jul (David McCorquodale).

Little Gull is rare in summer to Newfoundland, so the discovery of a juvenile at Little Pond, Witless Bay, Avalon Peninsula 7 Jun – 10 Jul was well-received (BM et al.). Laughing Gull, a rare visitor to Nova Scotia, was reported in 3 locations: at Pear Island, Lunenburg Co., 21 Jun (ph. Steven Morris); along the Berlin Wharf Road, Lunenburg Co., 21 Jun (Eric Mills); and at Daniel’s Head, Cape Sable Island, Shelburne Co., 17 Jul (ph. Lyall Bouchard, Jason Dain). 5 Laughing Gulls were reported in New Brunswick this season, where they also are considered rare: 2 were on Grand Manan Island, Charlotte Co., 20 Jun (Garry Donaldson); another was observed at Cap–Lumière, Kent Co., 7 Jul (ph. Gary Dupuis); one was at Cap-Pelè, Westmorland Co., 24 Jul (ph. John Klymoko); and the last was discovered at Bull’s Creek, Carleton Co., 24 Jul (ph. Dorothy Chase) – the county’s 1st record of the species. A Franklin’s Gull found at Three Fathom harbour, Halifax, NS 26 Jul (ph. Aaron Marshall) was exceptionally rare to that province. Another Franklin’s Gull in the Borden Lagoons, Prince Co., PE 27 Jul+ (ph. Donna Martin, Kathleen MacAulay et al.) provided that province with its first record for the species. A Least Tern at Daniel’s head, Cape Sable Island, Shelburne Co., NS 24 Jul (ph. Mark & Sandra Dennis, Mike MacDonald et al.) was a rare visitor to the province. Caspian Tern is a rare summer migrant in Nova Scotia, so recording 4 this season was exceptional: one was observed at Three Fathom Harbour, Halifax 1 Jun (Kate Steel, Chris Pepper); another was found at Antigonish Landing, Antigonish Co. 14 Jun (ph. Angela MacDonald, Mike Melchin); one was located along Jersey Cove Road, Englishtown, Victoria Co., 19 Jun (ph. Wayne Green); and the last was on Big Island, Merigomish Point, Pictou Co., 12 Jul (ph. Robert Lange).

7 Cory’s Shearwaters observed south of St. Pierre Island, SPM 8 & 12 Jul (Joël Detcheverry) were very rare to the French Islands. In Nova Scotia, an exceptional 1500+ Sooty Shearwaters were reported just offshore of Black Rock Lighthouse, Kings Co., 11 Jun (Luke Berg, Alexandra Rousseau). Shearwater species arrived in significant numbers in the waters offshore of Daley’s Cove through to The Drook, Avalon Peninsula, NL 27 Jun (BM). An estimated 5000 Sooty Shearwaters, 300 Great Shearwaters, and one Manx Shearwater were observed (fide BM). Similarly, off the southern Avalon Peninsula Coast, NL 3 Jul, tens of thousands of Sooty Shearwaters were estimated (fide BM). Manx Shearwater tends to be reported in the waters offshore of St. Pierre et Miquelon, and this year was no exception. Intermittent observations were made in offshore waters 27 Jun – 23 Jul culminating in the report of 75 in open waters between Langlade and St. Pierre Island, SPM 27 Jul (Joël Detcheverry). Manx Shearwater is uncommon in the waters off Newfoundland; the following reports were made: a Manx Shearwater was observed off Cape English, Avalon Peninsula 4 Jul (Ian Jones et al.); one was reported offshore Cape Spear, Avalon Peninsula 6 Jul  (BM); another 12+ were observed at the same site 11 Jul (BM, Ken Knowles, John Wells); a minimum of 20 Manx Shearwaters were reported offshore of Point LaHaye, Avalon Peninsula 13 Jul (BM); more than 40 were seen exiting Conception Bay at Cape St. Francis, Avalon Peninsula 16 Jul (Ken Knowles, John Wells, David Brown, BM); and finally, one was reported offshore of Bear Cove, Avalon Peninsula 18 Jul (Ian Jones, Jenine Winkel).

Boobies through Hawks

A Brown Booby that arrived in Black’s Harbour 24 Jul in the company of fishing boat Ronja Carrier out of Maine (ph. Capt. Fred Justason, Kathleen Lahaie et al.) was an exceptional record – the province’s 3rd – for New Brunswick.


Subject: BROWN BOOBY (Fou brun) Arrives in Black’s Harbour

An adult Brown Booby (Fou brun) landed on a fishing boat off the coast of Cutler, Maine. That boat was bound for Conner’s Wharf in Black’s Harbour, and onboard was Katherine (Dewar) Lahey’s father. He obtained photographs of the bird and sent them to Katherine; she identified it, and later sent the photos to me. The bird stayed on the boat, took short flights periodically, returning. It stayed onboard until they arrived in Black’s Harbour around 10:45 PM, then flew off when the men began unloading their fish cargo. Jim Wilson.


Least Bittern is rare to New Brunswick, and 3 were reported this season: one at Musquash Marsh, St. John 16 Jun (Paul Mansz, Suzanne Bonnell), another in Saint-Basile Marsh, Madawaska Co. 27 Jun – 11 Jul (Suzanne Légère, ph. Carmella Melanson et al.), and the last in the Germantown Marsh, Albert Co., 22 Jul (Jake Walker). On 30 Jun, excitement rapidly built when the presence of a possible Gray Heron at Miner’s Marsh, Kings Co., NS became known (Michele Carrière, ph. Sarah Foote, Kathleen MacAulay m.ob.). The identity of the Gray Heron was quickly confirmed, and the bird remained in that area through 22 Jul (Roberta Palmer), providing the province with its 1st record of the species. In New Brunswick, Great Egret, rare, is still expected to annually occur, so it was no surprise when 5 were reported throughout the province this season. Great Egret is uncommon to Nova Scotia, and 3 were reported through the season. A Snowy Egret discovered in Little St. Lawrence, Burin Peninsula–Marystown, NL 15 Jun (ph. Lillian Walsh) was a rare summer visitor. Snowy Egret, while rare to New Brunswick, is reported annually; one was at La Cedrière, Northumberland Co., 22 – 26 Jul (Lewanny Richardson, ph. Carmella Melanson). Rare to Newfoundland, a Little Blue Heron lingered into the season in the community of Codroy 31 May – 2 Jun (David Brown et al.); another Little Blue was discovered at the Marine Lab, St. John’s, NL 15 Jun (ph. Charles Fitzpatrick, Jared Clarke et al.). Little Blue Heron is a rare summer visitor to Nova Scotia, and 2 were reported this season: at Baccaro Point, Shelburne 15 – 16 Jul (ph. Mark & Sandra Dennis, Mike MacDonald, ph. Tony Millard), and – perhaps the same individual – in Overton, Yarmouth 27 –28 Jul (Paul Gould, ph. Angie & Tony Millard, AE). A Little Blue Heron, rare visitor to New Brunswick, was present at Anchorage Provincial Park, Grand Manan Island, Charlotte Co., 24 – 26 Jul (ph. Deana Gadd).

The sole report of a Tricolored Heron was at Forteau Brook Marsh, Happy Valley–Goose Bay, Labrador, NL 13 – 19 Jun (ph. Vernon Buckle), where it was a rare summer visitor. Green Heron is rare to St. Pierre et Miquelon so the discovery of one in St. Pierre, St. Pierre Island 2 & 5 Jun (Joël Detcheverry, Patrick Hacala) was a very good find. Green Heron is also rare to Nova Scotia, yet 4 were reported though the season. 4 Green Herons were also noted from New Brunswick, where they are exceptionally uncommon. A Black-crowned Night-Heron discovered in the Allisary Creek Wildlife Management Area, Mt. Stewart, Kings Co., PE 13 Jun (ph. Anna MacDonald) was the province’s 4th record of the species. A Yellow-crowned Night-Heron in St. Pierre, St. Pierre Island, SPM 18 – 31 Jul (Patrick Hacala, PB) was a rare vagrant to the French Islands. A Roseate Spoonbill was an exceptional discovery in a parking lot in Sussex, Kings Co., 14 Jun (ph. Joelle Toomey & family). However, it disappeared and was later found deceased in a farm field in Sussex, Kings Co., 20 Jun (Edgar Creighton, Anthony Habracken). The remains were carefully collected and sent to the Natural History Department of the New Brunswick Museum in St. John, NB. This Roseate Spoonbill was a 1st provincial record, and was also just Canada’s 3rd.

A Black Vulture that lingered at Jolicure, Westmorland Co., NB 15 Jun – 1 Jul (Sean Blaney, ph. Jaden & Lisa Barney et al.) was rare but regular to that province. A Black Vulture – likely the same individual – was subsequently discovered in the Butsford area, Westmorland Co., NB 3 – 5 Jul (ph. Jason Dain). Rare to Prince Edward Island, a Black Vulture was reported at the Dingwell’s Waste Watch Facility, Dingwell’s Mills, Kings Co., 28 Jul+ (Dale Murchison). Although regular in the other Maritime Provinces, Turkey Vulture is still rare on Prince Edward Island, so the 5 reports for the season were exceptional: 9 were circling the shoreline at Monticello, Kings Co., 5 Jun (Gerald MacDonald, Paul MacGuigan); one was observed along Strang Road, Prince Co., 5 Jun (ph. Donna Martin); 16 were observed over East Point, Kings Co., 16 Jun (ph. Donna Martin); and 2 Turkey Vultures were present at Howard’s Cove, Prince Co., 12 Jul (Fiep de Bie). Broad-winged Hawk is occasionally reported on Prince Edward Island, but the report of a kettle of 8 over Cape Egmont, Prince 13 Jun (Jean-François Jetté) was significant. 2 Red-tailed Hawks at Birch Island Creek, Happy Valley–Goose Bay, Labrador, NL 10 Jun (Brian Bishop) were rare summer visitors.

Woodpeckers through Dickcissel

Uncommon to Nova Scotia, 2 Red-headed Woodpeckers were reported this season: one was present at Cape St. Mary’s, Digby Co., 3 Jun (ph. Linda Comeau), and the other was at Waterside, Pictou Co., 4 Jul (ph. Pam Snow). A female Black-backed Woodpecker was an excellent yard bird in Launching, Kings Co., PE 4 Jun (Judi Allen), and a rare provincial observation. Great Crested Flycatcher is a rare summer visitor to Nova Scotia. With 2 lingering into the season at Miner’s Marsh, Kings Co., 10 other reports of Great Crested Flycatcher accumulated through the season; the most noteworthy of these was in the Lochmore Harbour area of Cape Breton Island 5 Jun (ph. Debbie Moffat), where it is considered exceptionally rare. A Fork-tailed Flycatcher – ompletely unexpected and rare to Labrador – was discovered in Happy Valley–Goose Bay, NL 30 May – 1 Jun (ph. Vernon Buckle, Tony Chubbs, Brian Bishop). An Acadian Flycatcher found along the Chebogue Point Road, Yarmouth Co., NS 7 – 8 Jun (ph. AE, ph. Kathleen MacAulay et al.) was a rare occurrence. Also rare to Nova Scotia, 9 Willow Flycatchers found over the summer were all notable. A Yellow-throated Vireo located in the South Channel–Port aux Basques, NL 15 Jun (ph. Alison Mews, au. BM) was a rare find. The 2 Warbling Vireos previously reported at the Cornwallis River Greenway, Kings Co., NS lingered through 2 Jun (Jake Walker, Bernie Brown). Warbling Vireo is considered rare in Nova Scotia, so the report of a pair carrying food in Port Williams, Kings Co., 25 Jun (ph. Richard Stern) was noteworthy.

A Purple Martin, rare summer vagrant to St. Pierre et Miquelon, lingered through to 2 Jun (Patrick Hacala, Joël Detcheverry). 2 Purple Martins at Bidgood Park, Goulds, Avalon Peninsula, NL were last reported 1 Jun (Shawn Fitzpatrick). Interestingly, a Purple Martin was also observed over the Codroy Estuary Wetlands, NL 3 Jun (David Brown , NH, AB), while another was seen in flight over farm fields west of Loch Lomand, St. George’s–Stephenville, NL 13 Jun (Alison Mews). Uncommon to Nova Scotia, a female Purple Martin was reported at Brass d’Or Church, Cape Breton Regional Municipality 4 Jun (ph. David McCorquodale), and another was seen at the Amherst Point Migratory Bird Sanctuary, Cumberland Co., 15 Jun (Zach Wile). A Cliff Swallow was an uncommon find at Loch Lomond, northwest of Codroy Valley, NL 3 & 6 Jun (David Brown, Alicia Brown, Hélen Norman).  House Wren is considered rare to Nova Scotia, so 13 provincial reports suggested a good year for the species. In New Brunswick, House Wren is reported annually in low numbers. This season, 4 were reported from various locales; additionally, a pair first observed in Quispamsis, Kings Co., NB 21 Jun (au. ph. Jim & Therese Carroll et al.) successfully nested, and a total of 10 House Wrens were reported at that location 19 – 21 Jul (vt. Ph. Jim & Therese Carroll). Eastern Bluebird is a rare summer resident for Nova Scotia, so the 17 individuals reported through the season were significant. A Wood Thrush on Robinson’s Island, Prince Edward Island National Park, Queens PE 21 Jun (au. Melanie McCarthy, Vanessa Bonnyman) was not only an excellent find, but also provided the province with its 3rd record of the species. Uncommon to Nova Scotia, 3 Brown Thrashers were reported this season: the 1st—a surprise yard bird—was in Lawrencetown, Annapolis Co. 10 Jun (ph. Linda Kaiser), the next was in Middleton, Annapolis Co., 22 Jun (ph. Judi Marshall), and the last was found at Ward’s Brook, Cumberland Co., 5 Jul (ph. Johnny Furlotte).

Northern Mockingbird is quite uncommon to Prince Edward Island; 2 were reported this season. One was at Mount Carmel, Prince Co., 7 – 18 Jun (Jean-François Jetté, ph. Donna Martin), and the other, seen displaying, was in Monticello, Kings Co., 25 Jun (Paul & Arlene MacGuigan). A Northern Mockingbird in Newfoundland, on the Canadian Forces Base in Happy Valley–Goose Bay, Labrador, NL 7 – 10 Jul (ph. Tony Chubbs, ph. Brian Bishop), was considered a rare observation. A Clay-colored Sparrow discovered in the Waterside Beach Provincial Park, Pictou Co., NS 28 Jun –10 Jul (ph. Andy Horn, Ken McKenna et al.) was excellent. The Yellow-headed Blackbird found at Petit-Rocher, Gloucester, NB 28 Jul was a rare but annual visitor to the province. Exceptionally rare to Prince Edward Island, a male Orchard Oriole discovered at the Allisary Creek Wildlife Management Area, Mt. Stewart, Kings Co., 14 – 18 Jun (ph. Sharon Clark et al.) provided the 2nd provincial record for the species. In Nova Scotia, where Pine Warbler is uncommon in summer, 11 individuals were reported this season. A rare Summer Tanager lingered into the summer at White Point, Queens Co., NS 1 Jun (Marg Millard). Summer Tanager is particularly rare in Newfoundland, and the discovery of one on the Northern Peninsula–St. Anthony’s 14 Jun (ph. Margie Wilkes) was a good find. 8 Scarlet Tanagers reported this season in Nova Scotia were notable. In Labrador, a Scarlet Tanager turned up as a rare yard bird in Happy Valley–Goose Bay, NL, 14 Jun (Tony & Lidija Chubbs). A male Indigo Bunting found at St. Andrews, NL 3 Jun (David Brown et al.) was a rare summer record. A Dickcissel, uncommon migrant to New Brunswick, was located in Saint Stephen, Charlotte Co., 3 Jun (ph. Frank Ferguson). Dickcissel is exceptionally rare to Nova Scotia in summer; recording one from the Nocturnal Flight Call Station in Beaver River, Yarmouth 24 Jul (au. ph. John Kearney) was most fortuitous.

Report processed by Alison Világ, 11 Dec 2020.

Photos–Atlantic Region & St. Pierre et Miquelon: Summer 2020
Hover or click on each image to read the caption.