Atlantic Region: Winter 2016–2017

Winter 2016–2017, Dec.  1–Feb. 28

David Seeler

Recommended citation:
Seeler, D. 2017. Winter 2016–2017: Atlantic Region & St. Pierre et Miquelon. <> North American Birds.

Blizzard-like conditions bringing heavy snow began the winter season, and continued into the new year, with several significant snowstorms and one major ice storm. Despite this, overall precipitation rates for the region were at normal to slightly below normal for the season. Offshore coastal water temperatures for NB and NS were approximately 1–3 degrees Celsius above average. Temperatures for the region in general were slightly below normal through the season. Reports were generally unremarkable for the region, excepting a first-record Kelp Gull and a few other unusual vagrants.

Contributors (sub-regional compilers in boldface)

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


C. B. I. (Cape Breton Island, NS); C. S. I. (Cape Sable Island, NS); G. M. I. (Grand Manan Island, NB); H. R. M. (Halifax Regional Municipality, NS); S. P. M. (St. Pierre et Miquelon, France).

Waterfowl through Shorebirds

A Trumpeter Swan tagged P08 from a wild population in ON was an unexpected find 15 Jan. at Green Bay, Lunenburg, NS, and provided the province with its first confirmed record (ph. Gary Lohnes). Three imm. Common Shelducks were exceptional during a C. B. C. 17 Dec. at St. Rest’s Marsh, St. John, NB (Samantha Brewster, Kelly Honeyman, ph. JW). The three Common Shelducks lingered though 15 Jan., providing ample opportunity for further identification and behavioural observation (ph. Bill Windsor, Roy Lapoint, Joan Pearce, m. obs.). The NB Records Committee engaged in considerable discussion and assessment of the information, including provenance, before accepting these as the first three records of the species for the province. The data is currently housed within the NB Museum as acquisition NB 000832 (fide Richard Blacquiere). Two male Wood Ducks were located 1 & 8 Dec. in St. Pierre, St. Pierre I., S. P. M. (L. J., P. B.), and a lone male Wood Duck was observed in the same location 25 Dec. (Nathalie Michel) and again 1 Jan.–28 Feb. (R. E.), providing S. P. M. with the first overwintering record of the species (fide P. B.). Exceptionally early, and out of place, was a Blue-winged Teal in St. Pierre, St. Pierre I., S. P. M. 18 Jan. (P. B., Patrick Hacala). Also overwintering, a Redhead first observed 8 Dec. lingered in the Strawberry Marsh S. T. P., in Miramichi, Northumberland, NB (ph. Andrew Oliver, ph. Dena Gadd, Pamela Watters). Two White-winged Doves were reported this season—one 13 Dec. –3 Jan. in Halifax. H. R. M., NS (ph. Christopher Pepper), and the other, first reported in the fall of 2016, lingered through 24 Jan. in Renews, Avalon Pen., NL (Clara Dunne, ph. BM, Ken Knowles).

Sandhill Crane continued its expansion into NS this season. Five Sandhill Cranes which lingered through the fall were last observed 10 Dec. at Shubenacadie, Hants (Kevin & Joan Lantz). Subsequently, 11 Sandhill Cranes observed in flight 11 Dec. over Crystal B., H. R. M. did not linger (ph. Christopher Peters, Sean Dempsey). Seven Sandhill Cranes flew in formation over West Pubnico, Yarmouth 19 Dec. (A. E.). A Sandhill Crane located at Lawrencetown B. P. P., H. R. M. lingered 19 Jan.–22 Feb. (Deborah Bent, ph. Christopher Peters, Kate Steele). An exceptionally rare find, a Pacific Golden-Plover was present 5 Dec. at Pt. La Haye, St. Mary’s Bay, Avalon Pen., NL (Ken Knowles, ph. B. M., Paul Lineger, Vernon Buckle, Alison Mews). Throughout NS, 14 shorebird species were reported this season, the most notable of which were two overwintering Willets of the western subspecies T. s. inornata: the first overwintered at Crescent B., Lunenburg (fide Rick Whitman), and the other individual was observed 5–7 Jan. at Martinique B., H. R. M. (Fulton Lavender, Christopher Pepper, Clarence Stevens Sr.). A lingering Long-billed Dowitcher present through 20 Jan. on C. S. I. was quite unusual. Another or the same Long-billed Dowitcher was then reported 23 Jan. at Mathews I., Shelburne, NS (ph. Russel Crosby).

Gulls through Tanagers

A well-identified Yellow-legged Gull made its third winter appearance mid-Dec. and reappeared 9 Feb. at Quidi Vidi L., St. John’s, NL, continuing a pattern of appearances at that locale (Lancy Cheng, ph. B. M.). A Kelp Gull was an exceptional find 23–25 Dec. at Quidi Vidi L., St. John’s, NL (ph. Shawn Fitzpatrick, ph. Paul Linegar, B. M., m. obs.), providing NL with its first record, and Canada with its third. A returning Pacific Loon overwintered for the fourth consecutive year along the s. coast of the Avalon Pen., NL (fide B. M.). Northern Gannets were abundant over NS waters as compared to the 15-year C. B. C. average, with 1,483 reports of the species, while 241 reports were provided by the Eastern Canada Seabird at Sea Surveys (fide John Loch). An American Bittern observed 3 Dec. in St. Pierre, St. Pierre I., S. P. M. was exceptionally late (Patrick Hacala). Two imm. Black-crowned Night-Herons present 3–9 Feb. at Conrad Beach, H. R. M. were early spring overshoots (Nazo Gabrielion, ph. Angela Granchelli, m. obs.) Black Vultures were again present in NS this season, with one individual at Ryan R., C. B. I. 17 Jan. (ph. Maureen Boudreau); another, an imm. male with an injured eye at Pictou, Pictou late Jan., was captured and rehabilitated at a wildlife center (fide Helene Van Donmick). The Red-shouldered Hawk located 3 Dec.+ at Pleasant L., Yarmouth, NS appeared to be a repeat visitor again this winter (ph. Mark & Sandra Dennis, ph. Jason Dain, m. obs.). A Northern Harrier at St. Pierre, St. Pierre I., S. P. M. 18 Dec. was also out of place (fide P. B.).

A Great Gray Owl was a surprise in Pennfield, Charlotte, NB 22 Feb. (ph. Gail Taylor, ph. Gilles Belliveau), providing the province its fourth record of that species. A hatch-year Red-headed Woodpecker was an unexpected visitor to feeders at Bass R., Colchester, NS 27 Dec. (Brad McLaughlin, ph. Brian Stone, m. ob.). The season saw a near-record influx of Gyrfalcons to NS, with one individual at Glace Bay, C. B. I. 3 Jan.– 21 Feb. (ph. Allan & Cathy Murrant); another was discovered 17 Feb. at Joggins, Cumberland (Andrew Spencer, ph. Laurie Willicombe, m. obs.), and the last individual reported was present 19 Feb. on C. S. I. (ph. Mark Dennis).

A hatch-year White-eyed Vireo was a phenomenal find 5–6 Dec. at Margaretsville Marsh, Annapolis, NS (ph. Larry Neily).  A Winter Wren was completely unexpected on the Northern Langlade, Miquelon I., S. P. M. 12 Jan. (L. J.). Rare to NB in winter, a Carolina Wren lingered into the season through 17 Feb. at St. Rest’s Marsh, St. John (Joan Pearce). Reports of a Brown Thrasher at Shippagan, Gloucester 11 Feb. (ph. Michel Doucet) and a Townsend’s Solitaire at Albert 3 Feb. provided NB with good birds for its winter list. A female Varied Thrush discovered 24 Jan. at Renews, Avalon Pen. provided NL with its seventh record of the species. A visit by a Sooty Fox Sparrow 17–22 Dec. to Portugal S. Cove, Avalon Pen., NL, was quite unusual given the subspecies group’s normal distribution within North America (Julie Cappleman, David Shepherd, ph. B. M., m. obs.). Uncommon to NB, a Harris’s Sparrow was present 19–24 Jan. at Saint Léolin, Gloucester (Albert Godin, ph. Frank Branch, ph. Irene Doyle, m. obs.). Interestingly, for a second year in a row, a hatch-year male Bullock’s Oriole was at the feeders of Joe and Ann Mills in Westmount, C. B. I., NS 12 Dec. Uncommon to S. P. M. at any time, a Baltimore Oriole was reported 9 Dec. and 9 & 21 Jan. in St. Pierre, St. Pierre I. (L. J., Patrick Hacala). Cape May Warbler is increasingly difficult to find in NS at any time, but for the third year in a row, there was a report of one at Portuguese Cove, H. R. M. 2 Dec. (ph. Diane LeBlanc, David McCorquodale). A single Yellow-throated Warbler was located 14 Dec. at Bayfield, Antigonish, NS (Charlotte Brosha). Prairie Warbler is a quite rare vagrant to S. P. M., so one lingering into the season through 24 Dec. in St. Pierre, St. Pierre I. (Joël Detcheverry) was a good find. Western Tanager is considered rare to NB in winter, and yet one was discovered 4-6 Jan. at Nauwigewauk, Kings (ph. Sherry & Bruce Bagnall).

Report processed by Amy Davis, 29 Sept. 2020.

Photos–Atlantic Region & St. Pierre et Miquelon: Winter 2016–2017
Hover or click on each image to read the caption.