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Field Guides Tour Report
Newfoundland & Nova Scotia 2018
Jul 1, 2018 to Jul 11, 2018
Chris Benesh & Cory Gregory

This Mourning Warbler was one of nearly 20 species of warblers we tracked down on this Newfoundland & Nova Scotia tour. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

Newfoundland, sitting closer to Europe than any other part of Canada or the US, is a land of extreme conditions, extreme beauty, and a wealth of wildlife. The summer months provide the ideal time to visit the nesting birds, enjoy the relative warmth of the Canadian summer, and see the spectacular scenery of this island. On this tour, we visited eastern Newfoundland before taking the ferry to the relatively lush forests in Nova Scotia to the south. There the woods were full of new songs, interesting plants, and unique insects.

Our adventure began in scenic St. John's, a city with a rich history of aviation and certainly an important port. There we visited Cape Spear (and its fog), Signal Hill which towered over the bay, and Kents Pond which hosted a stray from Europe, a drake Tufted Duck! Farther south, a boat trip out to Gull Island and Green Island was great for seabirds including puffins, fulmars, a wealth of murres, and Razorbills.

The second day in Newfoundland started with a visit to Bidgood Park near Goulds which netted us a variety of sparrows, warblers, and even a displaying Wilson's Snipe! Farther south, La Manche Provincial Park had Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, Brown Creepers, and some beautiful Magnolia Warblers. Our next stop was at the wonderful feeders in the town of Renews where we eventually found a Type 8 Red Crossbill amongst all the Pine Siskins. As we continued south, we enjoyed studying side-by-side Arctic and Common terns.

Our next morning found us swimming in a bit of fog as we explored the road to Cape Pine but we still managed to see American Pipit, Horned Lark, and Caribou. Later that day, we made our way north to Spaniard's Bay where we saw another rarity that belongs in Europe, a Little Egret! Meanwhile, nesting Arctic Terns gave us the business, we added Greater Yellowlegs to our list, and even got to meet the mayor! We ended the day in the town of Placentia where the sun had come out.

We awoke the next day to find the landscape glowing in beautiful morning light with nary a cloud in sight! We headed straight out to Cape St. Mary's where we were immersed in one of the most impressive seabird colonies on the continent. The thousands of Northern Gannets were stunning in their own right but they contended with point-blank looks at murres and even some Razorbills too. That afternoon, we boarded the ferry in Argentia and took off for the Cabot Straight. After dinner aboard, we enjoyed watching a number of Great, Sooty, and Manx shearwaters as the sun set to the west.

We scrambled out to see what seabirds were around the next morning as the ferry neared Nova Scotia. A number of Leach's Storm-Petrels were spotted as were a few distant Wilson's Storm-Petrels. Once on dry land again, we started by birding the Morien Bay area which netted us Nelson's Sparrow and Willet, before heading to Big Glace Bay Lake Bird Sanctuary for Piping Plovers and a surprise Sanderling. We closed out the day by a scenic drive up to Cape Breton including a point-blank Moose sighting.

The Cape Breton Highlands were both beautiful and quite birdy. The Benjie's Lake Trail had Blue-headed Vireos and Nashville Warblers whereas the Bog Trail had American Redstarts and some amazing bog plants. The Lone Shieling Trail hosted a different variety including Ovenbird, Least Flycatcher, and Red-eyed Vireo. A nearby roadside stop turned out to be quite birdy and, between bouts of seawatching, we saw a point-blank Alder Flycatcher and some Common Goldeneyes down in the bay.

Early the next morning, we birded the Skyline Trail on Cape Breton. There, a male Mourning Warbler was stunning and a fun flock of Red-breasted Nuthatches and kinglets found us too. But it was time to say goodbye to Cape Breton and we drove south... but not before a quick stop in Cheticamp netted us a Surf Scoter and Common Eider! Whycocomagh Provincial Park had Chestnut-sided Warblers, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, and even a Northern Cardinal singing back in the thickets.

Our final lodge of the trip, the beautiful Liscombe Lodge, was nice for a variety of reasons. First, how cool was it that we saw a male Black-backed Woodpecker right on the grounds! The conifer forests had Golden-crowned Kinglets, Winter Wrens, and even a Pileated Woodpecker. The Waternish Road area was great for seeing even more new species like Wood Duck, Red-tailed Hawk, Evening Grosbeak, Ruffed Grouse, Eastern Wood-Pewee, and a variety of new warblers like Canada and Black-throated Blue.

All in all, we thought it was a fantastic trip and Chris and I had a blast sharing with you some of what eastern Canada has to offer. A huge thanks to Roy and Joanne for their tireless work, understanding sense of humor, great driving, and logistical support. And of course, this wouldn't have been possible without Mandy who managed this tour from our home base in Austin.

Thank you so much for joining us and, until we can travel with you again, safe travels and good birding!

-- Cory

One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
CANADA GOOSE (Branta canadensis) – We saw this familiar goose on more days than not, often along roadsides as we passed by.
WOOD DUCK (Aix sponsa) – Late in the tour, during our time birding along Waternish Road in Nova Scotia, we ended up seeing a few of these. We saw another in Churchville on our final day.
MALLARD (Anas platyrhynchos) – Although we saw some "yuck ducks" at various parks, we eventually saw a clean-looking Mallard or two in Newfoundland.
AMERICAN BLACK DUCK (Anas rubripes) – A common breeding dabbler that we saw in a variety of freshwater habitats. At Kents Pond in St. John's, we had a flock at our feet.
NORTHERN PINTAIL (Anas acuta) – We passed by a lake called Forest Pond near Goulds that was hosting a variety of ages of this dabbler. We saw some youngsters and several female-types.
TUFTED DUCK (Aythya fuligula) – This was a treat! At Kents Pond in St. John's, a handsome male had joined in with some scaup and we watched it actively diving. This species doesn't breed in North America and most of the records are of strays from the Old World.
GREATER SCAUP (Aythya marila) – A bit out of season, and a rare bird for this tour, this diving duck was at Kents Pond along with the previous species.
COMMON EIDER (DRESSER'S) (Somateria mollissima dresseri) – It wasn't until we were in Nova Scotia that we saw this large and handsome seaduck. The first couple played secretive with us but we ended up seeing a nice male at Cheticamp.
SURF SCOTER (Melanitta perspicillata) – Our only sighting of this seaduck was a distant one in Cheticamp as we were leaving Cape Breton.
COMMON GOLDENEYE (Bucephala clangula) – We were cruising down the coastal road in Pleasant Bay, Nova Scotia when we stopped and found a half dozen of these down below us in the bay.

The view from the beach at St. Vincent's was highlighted by swarms of Northern Gannets plunge-diving just offshore! Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

HOODED MERGANSER (Lophodytes cucullatus) – A rather rare bird on this tour, three youngsters were in a roadside pond in Churchville on our final day of birding.
COMMON MERGANSER (Mergus merganser) – Snoozing on some riverside rocks, a few of these were spotted along Waternish Road towards the end of our tour.
Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)
RUFFED GROUSE (Bonasa umbellus) – Sometimes views of these forest grouse can be fleeting. However, for us, we had great looks at one as it dust-bathed along Waternish Road! We ended up seeing a few more along roadsides as well.
SPRUCE GROUSE (Falcipennis canadensis) – Remember those little grouse chicks we spotted on the side of the road? Those turned out to be Spruce Grouse chicks! Major thanks to Lorena for getting pictures. We know an adult must have been close at hand but never did find it.
WILLOW PTARMIGAN (Lagopus lagopus) – Only folks in the front van managed brief views of a flying ptarmigan during our time in Newfoundland. Turns out, that was our only sighting of the trip.
Gaviidae (Loons)
COMMON LOON (Gavia immer) – These northern divers were seen on several days in both Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. We even heard them calling from Liscombe Lodge one morning!
Procellariidae (Shearwaters and Petrels)
NORTHERN FULMAR (Fulmarus glacialis) – The boat trip on our first day tallied this interesting tubenose and that would turn out to be the only sighting on the trip.
GREAT SHEARWATER (Ardenna gravis) – The ferry crossing turned out to be loaded with this attractive Atlantic tubenose. They were our most numerous species at sea and sometimes they stayed on the water not far from the boat. Other times, they would lift off and fly parallel to us for some distance.
SOOTY SHEARWATER (Ardenna grisea) – There were fewer of these than the previous species but still quite a few. This was our 2nd-most numerous species during the ferry crossing.
MANX SHEARWATER (Puffinus puffinus) – It was a treat to see this small shearwater during the ferry crossing as well. However, they were far and few between; we tallied only 10-20.

Incoming missile! One of those plunge-diving Northern Gannets at St. Vincent's was photographed by guide Cory Gregory.

Hydrobatidae (Storm-Petrels)
WILSON'S STORM-PETREL (Oceanites oceanicus) – There were one or two brief sightings of this storm-petrel during the ferry crossing. However, the birds were quite distant and not everyone got a great look.
LEACH'S STORM-PETREL (Oceanodroma leucorhoa) – Although we ended up tallying quite a number of these during the ferry crossing, the views were often brief. Plus, it's a small bird on a large ocean! John picked this as one of his favorite moments of the trip.
Sulidae (Boobies and Gannets)
NORTHERN GANNET (Morus bassanus) – It's hard to put into words what awaited us at the seabird colony at Cape St. Mary's. The rock cliffs were draped in a blanket of gannets, thousands upon thousands of them squawked and clamored together. There was no need for scopes because the gannets were so close. It's a remarkable place and we couldn't have asked for a better show! Earlier on tour, at the beach in St. Vincent's, we had a wonderful show as a flock fed right offshore; we watched them dive in like torpedos, one after the other. Amazing!
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
GREAT CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax carbo) – A few of these big cormorants were perched on rocks below us at Cape St. Mary's in Newfoundland.
DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax auritus) – The more common cormorant on tour, these were seen on most of our days, especially in Nova Scotia.
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias) – We were halfway through our tour before we eventually found one of these big and familiar herons. Big Glace Bay Lake Bird Sanctuary gave us our first one.
LITTLE EGRET (Egretta garzetta) – A very rare bird anywhere in North America, this vagrant from the Old World had recently showed up in Spaniard's Bay in Newfoundland and so we stopped by to take a look. We eventually found it on a veg-covered island and even got to see the two long plumes off the back of the head which is a distinctive fieldmark.
Pandionidae (Osprey)
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus) – This fish-eating raptor was present in decent numbers on tour and we even got to see an active nest near Liscombe Lodge in Nova Scotia.
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
NORTHERN HARRIER (Circus hudsonius) – Although not common, a couple of these were spotted on tour, most often as we were driving past open habitats.
BALD EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) – This classic and distinctive eagle ended up being one of our most common birds of prey on the trip.

The number of Common Murres seen on our boat trip was hard to calculate. There were a few! Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis) – Clearly not an abundant species on this tour, it wasn't until the last day or two that we saw a couple of these buteos. We eventually had a nice fly-by along Waternish Road in Nova Scotia.
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
PIPING PLOVER (Charadrius melodus) – This cute and pale shorebird gave us nice looks at Big Glace Bay Lake Bird Sanctuary. This is about as far north as this threatened species is found.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
WHIMBREL (HUDSONIAN) (Numenius phaeopus hudsonicus) – There were four of these curlews at Cape St. Mary's in Newfoundland although not everyone saw them. In Nova Scotia, we cleaned up with another couple at the Morien Bar.
SANDERLING (Calidris alba) – A rare migrant at this time of the year, one of these flew in and landed while we were birding the beach at Big Glace Bay Lake Bird Sanctuary. This widespread sandpiper breeds in the high Arctic.
WILSON'S SNIPE (Gallinago delicata) – A secretive shorebird when on the ground, this long-billed species will make dizzying aerial displays during the breeding season. We got a taste of the latter as one flew overhead at Bidgood Park in Goulds, Newfoundland.
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius) – We spotted a few of these sandpipers both in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. The tail-bobbing behavior is a good first clue of the identity!
GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca) – Both Newfoundland and Nova Scotia hosted this long-legged and long-billed shorebird. We had our best looks at Morien Bar in Nova Scotia as they wandered some of the flats there.
WILLET (EASTERN) (Tringa semipalmata semipalmata) – A common and flashy shorebird once we arrived to the coastal marshes of Nova Scotia. We saw them, with their black-and-white wing patterns, at Morien Bar and Big Glace Bay Lake Bird Sanctuary.
Alcidae (Auks, Murres, and Puffins)
COMMON MURRE (Uria aalge) – It was a pleasure getting to study these alcids on the boat trip and then again at Cape St. Mary's. The shade of black on these isn't quite as dark as the following species. [N]
THICK-BILLED MURRE (Uria lomvia) – Compared to the previous species, these alcids are a bit more stout with a darker shade of black. The bills have a white mark along the mandible which can be obvious at close range. We had hundreds to study at Cape St. Mary's. [N]

Surely one of the stars of the show, these Atlantic Puffins seemed to have something to say. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

RAZORBILL (Alca torda) – An alcid only found near the Atlantic Ocean, this specialty was seen from the boat trip in Newfoundland and then again on the cliffs at Cape St. Mary's. [N]
BLACK GUILLEMOT (Cepphus grylle) – A striking alcid with a strong black-and-white pattern. We saw these on the water many times throughout the trip including from the small boat trip, from the ferry, and offshore Cape Breton.
ATLANTIC PUFFIN (Fratercula arctica) – This awesome "sea clown" was a star of the show on our small boat ride and it was picked as a favorite by several folks. We saw them again at a distance at Cape St. Mary's and even a few from the ferry. [N]
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE (Rissa tridactyla) – An abundant gull that nested along cliffs in Newfoundland. [N]
RING-BILLED GULL (Larus delawarensis) – Although always outnumbered by Herring Gulls, a few of these familiar gulls were often present in the flocks in Newfoundland. We had nice looks at some flying by the diving gannet flock at St. Vincent's.
HERRING GULL (AMERICAN) (Larus argentatus smithsonianus) – This abundant large gull species was tallied nearly every day.
GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL (Larus marinus) – A common gull throughout the trip, this dark-backed behemoth is the largest gull species in the world.
COMMON TERN (Sterna hirundo) – Truly common on this trip, these graceful terns show a dark tip to the bill at this time of year. We saw these every day in Newfoundland and most of our days in Nova Scotia. [N]
ARCTIC TERN (Sterna paradisaea) – There were two days in Newfoundland where we had great studies of this impressive migrant: first along the bay in Renews, then again at St. Vincent's and Spaniard's Bay. These stood shorter than the previous species, an interesting fieldmark to study when they stand side-by-side. [N]
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) – Often seen in urban areas. [I]

Another Atlantic specialty, these Razorbills posed nicely during our boat trip. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura) – Once we arrived in Nova Scotia, these long-tailed doves were quite common.
Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Archilochus colubris) – Seen daily once we traveled south to Nova Scotia. These nectar-feeders were especially common at the feeders along Waternish Road.
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon) – Although never abundant, these classic fish-eaters were tallied every day of tour but usually only one at a time.
Picidae (Woodpeckers)
YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER (Sphyrapicus varius) – Not uncommon once we were in range in Nova Scotia. We had looks at Whycocomagh Provincial Park and Waternish Road.
DOWNY WOODPECKER (Picoides pubescens) – We tallied this small woodpecker on a couple of the days in Nova Scotia, often in more deciduous habitats.
HAIRY WOODPECKER (Picoides villosus) – Similar to the previous species, this larger woodpecker was heard and seen at the Liscombe Lodge Grounds and then again along Waternish Road.
BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER (Picoides arcticus) – Success! This beautiful and uncommon northern woodpecker was a main target for many and we were again successful in finding this species near the Liscombe Lodge. We could even see the yellow on the crown, identifying it as a male.
NORTHERN FLICKER (Colaptes auratus) – Fairly common throughout the trip, these large woodpeckers were tallied almost every day. The males have a black "mustache" and the females do not.
PILEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus pileatus) – Any day that you get to lay eyes on this giant is a good day. We had a day like that at Liscombe Lodge and Waternish Road in Nova Scotia.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
MERLIN (Falco columbarius) – We pulled off of a road in Nova Scotia to scope one of these chunky falcons perched atop a dead snag.

This tour provided many chances to study the differences between Common Terns and Arctic Terns. Here's one of the latter. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER (Contopus cooperi) – The bog on Sinclair Lake Road in Nova Scotia produced one of these vocal flycatchers that came in and gave a great show as it sang and sallied from dead snags. This flycatcher is actually in the same genus as wood-pewees.
EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE (Contopus virens) – This is another flycatcher that we found only in the rich deciduous forests of Nova Scotia. The Waternish Road area produced a couple for us to look at.
YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Empidonax flaviventris) – One of three Empidonax flycatchers that we tallied on this tour, this particular one is fond of northern bogs. We found this species at La Manche Provincial Park in Newfoundland and even got to hear the rising "tueee" call notes.
ALDER FLYCATCHER (Empidonax alnorum) – We were birding along a roadside near Pleasant Bay in Nova Scotia when one of these empids materialized along the road. It even popped out for amazing views.
LEAST FLYCATCHER (Empidonax minimus) – It wasn't until Nova Scotia that we found this small flycatcher, often in deciduous forests. We had luck along the Lone Shieling Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park and then again along Waternish Road.
EASTERN KINGBIRD (Tyrannus tyrannus) – We had to wait until our final day to find this attractive and energetic flycatcher near Churchville in Nova Scotia.
Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)
BLUE-HEADED VIREO (Vireo solitarius) – Rather common throughout our time in Nova Scotia. We had nice looks at several spots in Cape Breton Highlands National Park as well as near Liscombe Lodge. This vireo has bold, pale "spectacles" around the eyes.
RED-EYED VIREO (Vireo olivaceus) – This incessant singer was common during our time in Nova Scotia. At one point, along the Lone Shieling Trail, one of these came down to inspect an Ovenbird that had perched nearby.
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
GRAY JAY (Perisoreus canadensis) – Soon to be renamed Canada Jay, this sometimes-tame corvid was spotted along a roadside in Placentia, Newfoundland.
BLUE JAY (Cyanocitta cristata) – A common, attractive, and familiar species throughout our trip.

Another target, the Black-backed Woodpecker, fell into place nicely during our time in Nova Scotia. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

AMERICAN CROW (Corvus brachyrhynchos) – Abundant, seen daily.
COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax) – A widespread and common corvid in both Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.
Alaudidae (Larks)
HORNED LARK (Eremophila alpestris) – The foggy trip out to Cape Pine in Newfoundland hosted a few of these ground-nesters. We saw more near Cape St. Mary's and, given the blue skies that day, our views were better there.
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
TREE SWALLOW (Tachycineta bicolor) – Our most widespread swallow on this tour, these blue-and-white insect-eaters were tallied nearly every day. We saw some nesting in a box near Morien Bay as well. [N]
BANK SWALLOW (Riparia riparia) – A few of these darted overhead when we were birding near Morien Bay in Nova Scotia.
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica) – These long-tailed and graceful insectivores were fairly common but only once we arrived in Nova Scotia.
CLIFF SWALLOW (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) – There were scattered sightings in Nova Scotia but perhaps our best look came from the Morien Bar area.
Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)
BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE (Poecile atricapillus) – This was the most common chickadee for us on this tour and they were a major component of most roadside flocks.
BOREAL CHICKADEE (Poecile hudsonicus) – We chanced into this nice northern specialty pretty quickly, on our first day near Cape Spear in Newfoundland. We encountered a few more but those remained shy and out of view.
Sittidae (Nuthatches)
RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH (Sitta canadensis) – Fairly common in the conifer forests of Nova Scotia.

They might not be as flashy as puffins, but Alder Flycatchers are still interesting! We had fabulous looks at this bird, photographed here by guide Chris Benesh.

Certhiidae (Treecreepers)
BROWN CREEPER (Certhia americana) – Our only sighting of this tree-creeping species came from La Manche Provincial Park in Newfoundland.
Troglodytidae (Wrens)
WINTER WREN (Troglodytes hiemalis hiemalis) – A sneaky mouse-of-a-bird that tends to stay low, this gifted songster rose to the occasion and sang from a perch rather high up along Waternish Road.
Regulidae (Kinglets)
GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET (Regulus satrapa) – We had nice looks at these on the Liscombe Lodge grounds where a few were working high up in the conifers.
RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET (Regulus calendula) – A wing-flicking and spastic member of mixed flocks in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. Our first looks came from Bidgood Park but we saw more on Cape Breton including one flaring its ruby crown.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
SWAINSON'S THRUSH (Catharus ustulatus) – We encountered just a few of these along Waternish Road in Nova Scotia. The upward, spiraling song is a beautiful addition to the soundscape there.
HERMIT THRUSH (Catharus guttatus) – Fairly common throughout tour, especially during our time in Nova Scotia. One perched up on a dead snag allowing us to put a scope on it which was fantastic.
AMERICAN ROBIN (Turdus migratorius) – Seen every day, this familiar thrush often sports a darker head and back in Newfoundland although this variation is often considered clinal.
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos) – Kudos to Cindy for spotting and identifying this uncommon mimic on the grounds of the MidTrail Motel & Inn!
Sturnidae (Starlings)
EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris) – Widespread and common throughout. [I]
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
AMERICAN PIPIT (Anthus rubescens) – The road out to Cape Pine in Newfoundland hosted a few of these as did Cape St. Mary's.

We tried to pay attention to dragonflies too including this attractive Hudsonian Whiteface. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

Bombycillidae (Waxwings)
CEDAR WAXWING (Bombycilla cedrorum) – Bidgood Park in Goulds provided us our first good looks at these attractive breeders.
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
OVENBIRD (Seiurus aurocapilla) – An inquisitive individual came in to take a look as we birded the Lone Shieling Trail on Cape Breton. A Red-eyed Vireo then came in to take a look at it!
NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis) – Never sitting still for very long, this skulky warbler gave us fits as it flitted across the road and back. In the end, I think everyone saw it.
BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER (Mniotilta varia) – Seen on a majority of our birding days, this attractive warbler creeps along branches like a nuthatch.
NASHVILLE WARBLER (Oreothlypis ruficapilla) – Sporting a nice eyering, this warbler eventually came into view as we birded the Benjie's Lake Trail on Cape Breton.
MOURNING WARBLER (Geothlypis philadelphia) – It took some work but we eventually found a beautiful male along the Skyline Trail early one morning. It even popped out to do a bit of singing much to our delight.
COMMON YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis trichas) – Fairly common in Nova Scotia, especially in wet habitats with thick undergrowth.
AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla) – Common in Nova Scotia, this warbler gave us many chances to admire the many plumages held by males, females, and the different ages.
NORTHERN PARULA (Setophaga americana) – Although easier to hear than to see, this treetop-loving warbler was spotted in Nova Scotia at spots like Waternish Road and Whycocomagh Provincial Park.
MAGNOLIA WARBLER (Setophaga magnolia) – Our first "maggie" was in Newfoundland at La Manche Provincial Park. We then tallied these handsome warblers daily during our time in Nova Scotia.

This inquisitive Ovenbird came in to take a look at us during our time on Cape Breton. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

BAY-BREASTED WARBLER (Setophaga castanea) – A relatively rare species on this tour, a few of these attractive wood-warblers were singing on territory along Sinclair Lake Road in Nova Scotia.
YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia) – Probably our most widespread warbler on the trip, these familiar guys were fairly common throughout.
CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER (Setophaga pensylvanica) – It was a treat seeing these uncommon warblers so well at Whycocomagh Provincial Park in Nova Scotia towards the end of our trip.
BLACKPOLL WARBLER (Setophaga striata) – We spotted this black-and-white warbler only in Newfoundland, at locations like Bidgood Park and La Manche Provincial Park. The song is very high-pitched and difficult for many to hear.
BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER (Setophaga caerulescens) – Our only encounter with this gorgeous eastern warbler was along Waternish Road in Nova Scotia.
PALM WARBLER (YELLOW) (Setophaga palmarum hypochrysea) – Our second attempt for this bog-loving warbler along Sinclair Lake Road proved successful.
YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (MYRTLE) (Setophaga coronata coronata) – A fairly common warbler in both Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. In breeding plumage, they're quite attractive as well!

Although a rare species on this trip, this gorgeous Bay-breasted Warbler was a highlight for several folks. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER (Setophaga virens) – It's hard to forget the awesome experience we had with one of these singing warblers foraging right in front of us at La Manche Provincial Park.
CANADA WARBLER (Cardellina canadensis) – Waternish Road in Nova Scotia eventually gave up one of these nicely-patterned warblers. Additionally, it was fitting to see it so nicely in Canada!
WILSON'S WARBLER (Cardellina pusilla) – A yellow warbler with a black cap, this cute little guy was first spotted at Bidgood Park in Goulds.
Passerellidae (New World Buntings and Sparrows)
NELSON'S SPARROW (ATLANTIC COAST) (Ammodramus nelsoni subvirgatus) – Chris had one running around his feet at Morien Bar in Nova Scotia! We saw a few more at Big Glace Bay Lake Bird Sanctuary. The Atlantic Coast breeders (A. n. subvirgatus) are very dull compared to the interior subspecies.
FOX SPARROW (RED) (Passerella iliaca iliaca) – A chunky sparrow, this nicely-colored species was first seen at Bidgood Park in Goulds. The rich song was fairly commonplace in Nova Scotia as well.
DARK-EYED JUNCO (SLATE-COLORED) (Junco hyemalis hyemalis) – A common and widespread species in both Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.
WHITE-THROATED SPARROW (Zonotrichia albicollis) – Although common throughout the tour, the rich song of this classic northern species was a beautiful reminder of where we were.
SAVANNAH SPARROW (Passerculus sandwichensis) – Quite common early on the tour especially at spots like Cape St. Mary's where we could hardly avoid the ubiquitous song.
SONG SPARROW (Melospiza melodia) – Common throughout but especially during our time in Nova Scotia. One near Pleasant Bay really came out for a good showing.
LINCOLN'S SPARROW (Melospiza lincolnii) – This sneaky songster was heard at the Skyline Trail on Cape Breton but never came into view. [*]

Not only the birds and plants were attractive, the variety of butterflies was also fun to glance at. This Common Ringlet was photographed by guide Cory Gregory.

SWAMP SPARROW (Melospiza georgiana) – The rich and rolling trill of this sparrow was a common song in boggy areas throughout the trip. We saw a few quite well at Bidgood Park early on.
Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)
NORTHERN CARDINAL (Cardinalis cardinalis) – Although a familiar species farther south, they are rather rare on this itinerary. We heard one singing from thick undergrowth at Whycocomagh Provincial Park. [*]
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
BOBOLINK (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) – This grassland Icterid gave a nice show once we found a field with them! The females were on a constant vigil while carrying food for young.
RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus) – A common species of open spaces and wetlands once we arrived to the southern portions of our tour.
COMMON GRACKLE (Quiscalus quiscula) – Once we arrived in Nova Scotia, this became one of our most common roadside birds.
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
EVENING GROSBEAK (Coccothraustes vespertinus) – Reliable at the feeders along Waternish Road, it was a treat to see this uncommon finch.
PINE GROSBEAK (Pinicola enucleator) – Not uncommon during our time in Newfoundland. Our first looks of this enormous finch came from the Blackhead region near Cape Spear but we went on to see more at La Manche Provincial Park and Cape Breton.
PURPLE FINCH (Haemorhous purpureus) – Fairly common throughout the trip.
RED CROSSBILL (Loxia curvirostra) – The lone bird we saw at the feeders in Renews was a Type 8, a type that is thought to be endemic to Newfoundland. We saw a few more of these interesting finches on Cape Breton, at Liscombe Lodge, and Sinclair Lake Road.
PINE SISKIN (Spinus pinus) – Our best looks came from the feeders in Renews where they were abundant.

This tour provided a wealth of interesting mammal sightings too. From the tundra came this sighting of a Caribou. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

AMERICAN GOLDFINCH (Spinus tristis) – A common and widespread species, these small finches were tallied every day of tour.
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) – Seen some days in urban areas. [I]

SNOWSHOE HARE (Lepus americanus) – We had a nice mix of sightings of these from both Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. We spotted one on our first day at Bidgood Park, in fact.
PLAIN EASTERN CHIPMUNK (Tamias striatus) – Mostly seen later in the trip once we had arrived to Liscombe Lodge.
WOODCHUCK (Marmota monax) – One of these was spotted lumbering up a roadside on our final day of birding.
RED SQUIRREL (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) – A common sight (and sound!) during our time in Nova Scotia.
FIN WHALE (Balaenoptera physalus) – The second-largest animal species on earth! One of these surfaced a few times offshore as we made our way to Cape St. Mary's.
HUMPBACK WHALE (Megaptera novaeangliae) – It was really special being able to watch this species from high above, at Cape St. Mary's, as it surfaced and then disappeared again. The odd greenish glow we could see was the light, through the water, hitting the white pectoral fin.

One of the favorite "birds" of the trip was this amazing encounter with a Moose in Nova Scotia! Photo by guide Chris Benesh.

HARBOR SEAL (Phoca vitulina) – Spotted on the first two days of tour. Later in the fall, most of these will swim back to the north.
GRAY SEAL (Halichoerus grypus) – Seen a few times on tour including from St. Vincent's beach, the ferry crossing, and Cape Breton.
WHITE-TAILED DEER (Odocoileus virginianus) – Our final day of driving netting this familiar species along the roadside.
MOOSE (Alces alces) – One particularly photogenic male apparently was unbothered by the attention it got by a few other tourists! Cape Breton is a great spot to find this northern giant.
CARIBOU (Rangifer tarandus caribou) – Our first was a youngster along the road to Cape Pine despite the fog. After the fog had cleared, we found a few more down the road.


Totals for the tour: 129 bird taxa and 11 mammal taxa