Northern Canada & Greenland: Fall 2016

Fall 2016: 1 Sep–30 Nov

Cameron D. Eckert

Recommended citation:

Eckert, C. D. 2021. Fall 2016: Northern Canada & Greenland. <> North American Birds.

Consistent observations over many years contribute to a better understanding of changes to northern bird populations. Our view of a species as a once in a lifetime rarity, such as a Horned Puffin or Anna’s Hummingbird, changes when it turns up for a second or third time. These may well be the vanguards of change.

Contributors (sub-regional compilers in boldface)

Tracy Allard, Julie-Ann Bauer, Jeff Bolingbroke, Aurélie Bourbeau-Lemieux, Syd Cannings, Ted Cheskey, Cameron Eckert (Yukon), Cam Gilles (CGi), Christophe Gouraud (CGo), Reid Hildebrandt, Erika Holland, Clayton Jolly, Clare Kines (CKi, Nunavut), Catherine Kline (CKl), Jukka Jantunen, Ed Jenni, Ken Kingdon, Heidi Krajewsky, Brian Lewis, Connie Lintz, David Moffat, Marc-Antoine Montpetit, Oscar Moss, Claire Nisonger, Kalin Ocana, Rhianon Pankratz, Fiona Paton, Dan Peach, Heather Pickard, Jordan Rabbitskin, Jean-François Rousseau, Garry Salt, Terry Skjonsberg, Tim Shelmerdine, Pam Sinclair, Graham Sorenson, Andy Stepniewski, Jason Straka, Douglas Tate, Gary Vizniowski, Pamela Wood, Brian Zawadski.


Herschel I. (Qikiqtaruk Territorial Park); National Park (NP).

Geese through Cranes
A flock of 22 Pink-footed Geese at Vikingbukta, GL 10 Sep (HK) provided the only report of the season. The season’s high count for Barnacle Goose was 37 at Vikingbukta, GL 10 Sep (HK). At Teslin Lake, south Yukon the peak flight for Tundra Swan was 3,832 on 6 Oct, while Greater White-fronted Goose was 1,647 on 1 Sep (JJ). Notable reports from Nunavut were 8,000 Snow Geese at Cape Hay, Bylot I. 4 Aug (KO), and 200 Ross’s Geese at Meliadine River 12 Sep (BZ). Waterfowl highlights from Whitehorse, south Yukon included peak counts of 500 Gadwall 6 Oct, 3,500 American Wigeon 3 Sep, 1,200 Mallards 15 Oct, 1,000 Northern Shovelers 22 Aug, 400 Green-winged Teal 15 Sep, 200 Ring-necked Ducks 5 Sep, and 210 Ruddy Ducks 5 Sep (CE); while at Nistultin River Delta, south Yukon 1,000 American Wigeon and 1,000 Mallards were tallied 18 Sep (BD, CE, JJ); and 300 Bufflehead were at Lake Laberge, south Yukon 22 Aug (CE). Four Harlequin Ducks at Sisimiut 5 Aug (AS) was the only report from Greenland this season. At Avadlek Spit, Herschel I., north Yukon 600 Surf Scoters, 100 White-winged Scoters, and 200 Long-tailed Ducks were recorded 8 Aug (CE). A count of 800 Long-tailed Ducks was tallied on Simpson Strait, NU 9 Sep (CGi).

A flight of 133 Pacific Loons was recorded at Teslin Lake, 26 Sep (JJ). Single Yellow-billed Loons were at Herschel I. 10 and 12 Aug (CE), and Teslin Lake, 26 Sep (JJ). A total of 97 Red-necked Grebes were at Marsh Lake, YT 8 Oct (BD, TA, CE). Eared Grebe is rare but regular in south NT where one, perhaps two, were seen at Caen Lake 16 and 27 Aug (DT; RH). A Wilson’s Storm-Petrel, rarely reported from Nunavut, was seen on the Hudson Strait 22 Nov (JFR). A boat trip on Uparmavik Fiord, GL 9 Aug recorded 1,000 Northern Fulmars along with 25 Great Cormorants and 80 Black Guillemots (AS). A tally of 1,500 Northern Fulmars was recorded on a trip around Sillem I., NU 18 Aug (AS), while 1,100 were at Prince Leopold I., NU 20 Aug (CL). A high count of 2,500 Great Shearwaters was recorded offshore from Kulusuk, GL 9 Aug (OM). Highlights of an offshore trip to the north Denmark Strait, GL 5 Aug included 50 Great Shearwaters, one Great Skua, three Pomarine and 15 Long-tailed jaegers, 50 Dovekies, and 30 Arctic Terns (OM). Another Great Skua was off Bredefjord, GL 11 Aug (CGo). The dump is one of the better places to see Sandhill Cranes in Yellowknife, NT – a flock of 50 was there 2 Sep (RH).

Raptors through Terns

Migration watches at Teslin Lake, south Yukon produced notable raptor tallies of 13 Osprey, 54 Northern Harriers, 368 Red-tailed Hawks, 141 Sharp-shinned Hawks, 38 American Kestrels, and 10 Peregrine Falcons all on 10 Sep; 18 Rough-legged Hawks 3 Oct; and 19 Golden Eagles 5 Oct (JJ). A group of 30 adult and juvenile American Coots was at Yukon Wildlife Preserve 21 Aug (DP). Reports of Common Ringed Plover included six at Bylot I. NU 4 Aug (KO), six at Kulusuk, GL 10 Aug (DM), and five at Myggbukta, GL 6 Aug (OM). NT’s only report of Upland Sandpiper was one seen at Ft. Smith 4 Aug (JS). The region’s high counts of Ruddy Turnstones were 148 at Danby I., NU 3 Aug (ABL, TC, BL, MAM), and 132 at Charlton I., NU 1 Aug (ABL, TC, BL, JR), while 118 Greater Yellowlegs were tallied there 1 Aug, as well as 230 White-rumped Sandpipers and 76 Hudsonian Godwits on 4 Aug (ABL, TC, BL, JR, MAM). Red Phalarope is a scarce interior fall migrant; a juvenile was a nice find at The Gate, Nahanni NP, NT 6 Sep (ph. DT), and singles were at Teslin Lake, YT on 24 Sep and 2 Oct (JJ). Single juvenile Sharp-tailed Sandpipers were seen at Teslin Lake, 8 Sep (JAB, JJ), and Nisutlin River Delta 18 Sep (CE).

The season high counts of Thick-billed Murres were 10,000 at Digges I., NU 1 Aug (GS), and 3,000 at Prince Leopold I., NU 11 Aug (CN); while NT’s only report was of one seen at Smoking Hills 31 Aug (CGo). Seawatches from Herschel I., north Yukon recorded totals of 19 Thick-billed Murres and eight Horned Puffins 4–15 Aug (CE). The Yukon’s only Black Guillemot colony at Herschel I. numbered 37 on 7 Aug; breeding was poor with just seven successful nests and a total of nine chicks on 16 Aug (CE). Unfortunately, relentless predation of the colony by a Peregrine Falcon is contributing to its decline. Elsewhere, a high count of 400 Black Guillemots was recorded at Chalton I., NU 1 Aug (ABL, TC, BL); 60 were reported from Beechey I., NU 14 Aug (AS); and 34 (14 juveniles and 20 adults) were at Frobisher Bay, NU 14 Aug (FP). Notable Dovekie counts were 157 on Davis Strait, NU 6 Aug (EH), and 150 offshore from Kulusuk, GL 9 Aug (OM). The only report of Atlantic Puffin was of two at Cape Hay, Bylot I., NU 4 Aug (KO).

An impressive 5,000 Black-legged Kittiwakes was noted at Prince Leopold I., NU 14 Aug (AS). Ivory Gulls are always noteworthy; three were on the Davis Strait, NU 6 Aug (EH), 15 were seen along Nansen Fjord, GL 8 Aug (ph. OM), and eight were at Prince Regent Inlet, NU 5 Sep (CGi). A trip to the Yellowknife, NT dump 5 Sep produced 25 California Gulls (RH). A fairly high count of 300 Herring Gulls was recorded at Rankin Inlet, NU 25 Oct (BZ). A total of 86 Iceland Gulls was at Marcil Lake, Arctic Bay, NU 21 Aug (CKi). The region’s high counts of Great Black-backed Gulls came from Greenland with 60 at Nanortalik 18 Aug (TS), and 45 at Sisimiut 5 Aug (AS). The season’s high count of 880 Glaucous Gulls was reported from Sisimiut, GL 13 Aug (CL); reports elsewhere included 200 Glaucous Gulls at Iqaluit, NU 14 Aug (HP, PW), and 20 at Paulatuk, NT 25 Sep (KK). Sabine’s Gull reports are scarce in fall; 21 were on Lancaster Sound, NU 24 Aug (CGo, CKl); while two were at Teslin Lake, 24 Sep and 6 Oct, with a single there 5 Oct (JJ). Three counts of 120 Arctic Terns each were recorded at nearby Charlton I., Tern I., and Petite Ile, NU 1–2 Aug (ABL, TC, CJ, BL, JR, MAM, GS).

Owls through Blackbirds

Barred Owl reaches the edge of its range in southwestern NT; one was at the south Nahanni River 10 Sep (DT), and another was at Fred Henne Territorial Park 8 Oct (RP). The Yukon’s second Anna’s Hummingbird appeared at a Whitehorse yard 24 Aug and by 10 Oct had finally finished moulting a fresh set of flight feathers and was observed departing at pre-dawn on its migration (ph. CE, PS). Another Anna’s frequented a Whitehorse yard from early Aug and remained for at least a few weeks (ph. EJ). An exceptionally late Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was at Ft. Simpson, NT 19 Oct (DT). Season highlights for passerine migration at Teslin Lake, south Yukon included 72 Alder Flycatchers 21 Aug; a Pacific-slope Flycatcher 4 Aug; 703 American Robins 4 Oct; 279 Varied Thrush 6 Sep; 200 American Pipits 18 Sep; 92 Yellow Warblers 1 Sep; 230 Yellow-rumped Warblers 3 Sep; and 79 Rusty Blackbirds 4 Sep (JJ et al). A flock of five Eastern Kingbirds, a fairly regular fall migrant, was at Ft. Simpson, NT 19 Aug (DT). There is increasing interest in Barn Swallow populations across the region; 10 were at Klukshu, southwest Yukon 2 Aug (SC), and 12 were at Ft. Smith, NT 4 Aug (JS). American Dipper is scarce in NT, and so one seen at Naatsihchoh, Nahanni NP 15 Aug (JB) was notable. Greenland furnished the region’s only reports of White Wagtail with four at Sisimiut 4 Aug (CN), and Meadow Pipit with two at Ilulissat 5 Aug (CN). Bohemian Waxwings typically start to congregate in mid to late fall – 250 were at Haines Junction, YT 22 Oct (TS); while three flocks totaling 133 were at Hay River, NT 18 Nov (GV), and a flock of 52 was at Ft Simpson, NT 19 and 21 Nov (DT). A trip up Mt. Gilliam, southwest Yukon 4 Sep produced 60 Snow Buntings and a flock of five Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches (TS). A flock of 120 Snow Buntings was noted at Ft. Smith, NT 21 Oct (JS). A notable flock of 143 Rusty Blackbirds was at km 20 along Hwy 5 in NT 11 Sep (GV).

Report processed by Andrew Keaveney, 28 Mar 2021.