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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!
KEYS FOR THIS LIST
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)
WOOD DUCK (Aix sponsa)
MALLARD (Anas platyrhynchos)
AMERICAN BLACK DUCK (Anas rubripes)
NORTHERN PINTAIL (Anas acuta)
TUFTED DUCK (Aythya fuligula)
GREATER SCAUP (Aythya marila)
COMMON EIDER (DRESSER'S) (Somateria mollissima dresseri)
SURF SCOTER (Melanitta perspicillata)
COMMON GOLDENEYE (Bucephala clangula)
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)
COMMON MERGANSER (Mergus merganser)
Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)
RUFFED GROUSE (Bonasa umbellus)
SPRUCE GROUSE (Falcipennis canadensis)
WILLOW PTARMIGAN (Lagopus lagopus)
COMMON LOON (Gavia immer)
Procellariidae (Shearwaters and Petrels)
NORTHERN FULMAR (Fulmarus glacialis)
GREAT SHEARWATER (Ardenna gravis)
SOOTY SHEARWATER (Ardenna grisea)
MANX SHEARWATER (Puffinus puffinus)
Incoming missile! One of those plunge-diving Northern Gannets at St. Vincent's was photographed by guide Cory Gregory.
WILSON'S STORM-PETREL (Oceanites oceanicus)
LEACH'S STORM-PETREL (Oceanodroma leucorhoa)
Sulidae (Boobies and Gannets)
NORTHERN GANNET (Morus bassanus)
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
GREAT CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax carbo)
DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax auritus)
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)
LITTLE EGRET (Egretta garzetta)
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus)
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
NORTHERN HARRIER (Circus hudsonius)
BALD EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
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)
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
PIPING PLOVER (Charadrius melodus)
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
WHIMBREL (HUDSONIAN) (Numenius phaeopus hudsonicus)
SANDERLING (Calidris alba)
WILSON'S SNIPE (Gallinago delicata)
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius)
GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca)
WILLET (EASTERN) (Tringa semipalmata semipalmata)
Alcidae (Auks, Murres, and Puffins)
COMMON MURRE (Uria aalge) [N]
THICK-BILLED MURRE (Uria lomvia) [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) [N]
BLACK GUILLEMOT (Cepphus grylle)
ATLANTIC PUFFIN (Fratercula arctica) [N]
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE (Rissa tridactyla) [N]
RING-BILLED GULL (Larus delawarensis)
HERRING GULL (AMERICAN) (Larus argentatus smithsonianus)
GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL (Larus marinus)
COMMON TERN (Sterna hirundo) [N]
ARCTIC TERN (Sterna paradisaea) [N]
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]
Another Atlantic specialty, these Razorbills posed nicely during our boat trip. Photo by guide Chris Benesh.
MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)
RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Archilochus colubris)
BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon)
YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER (Sphyrapicus varius)
DOWNY WOODPECKER (Picoides pubescens)
HAIRY WOODPECKER (Picoides villosus)
BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER (Picoides arcticus)
NORTHERN FLICKER (Colaptes auratus)
PILEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus pileatus)
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
MERLIN (Falco columbarius)
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)
EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE (Contopus virens)
YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Empidonax flaviventris)
ALDER FLYCATCHER (Empidonax alnorum)
LEAST FLYCATCHER (Empidonax minimus)
EASTERN KINGBIRD (Tyrannus tyrannus)
Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)
BLUE-HEADED VIREO (Vireo solitarius)
RED-EYED VIREO (Vireo olivaceus)
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
GRAY JAY (Perisoreus canadensis)
BLUE JAY (Cyanocitta cristata)
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)
COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax)
HORNED LARK (Eremophila alpestris)
TREE SWALLOW (Tachycineta bicolor) [N]
BANK SWALLOW (Riparia riparia)
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)
CLIFF SWALLOW (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)
Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)
BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE (Poecile atricapillus)
BOREAL CHICKADEE (Poecile hudsonicus)
RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH (Sitta canadensis)
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.
BROWN CREEPER (Certhia americana)
WINTER WREN (Troglodytes hiemalis hiemalis)
GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET (Regulus satrapa)
RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET (Regulus calendula)
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
SWAINSON'S THRUSH (Catharus ustulatus)
HERMIT THRUSH (Catharus guttatus)
AMERICAN ROBIN (Turdus migratorius)
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos)
EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris) [I]
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
AMERICAN PIPIT (Anthus rubescens)
We tried to pay attention to dragonflies too including this attractive Hudsonian Whiteface. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.
CEDAR WAXWING (Bombycilla cedrorum)
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
OVENBIRD (Seiurus aurocapilla)
NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis)
BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER (Mniotilta varia)
NASHVILLE WARBLER (Oreothlypis ruficapilla)
MOURNING WARBLER (Geothlypis philadelphia)
COMMON YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis trichas)
AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla)
NORTHERN PARULA (Setophaga americana)
MAGNOLIA WARBLER (Setophaga magnolia)
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)
YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia)
CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER (Setophaga pensylvanica)
BLACKPOLL WARBLER (Setophaga striata)
BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER (Setophaga caerulescens)
PALM WARBLER (YELLOW) (Setophaga palmarum hypochrysea)
YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (MYRTLE) (Setophaga coronata coronata)
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)
CANADA WARBLER (Cardellina canadensis)
WILSON'S WARBLER (Cardellina pusilla)
Passerellidae (New World Buntings and Sparrows)
NELSON'S SPARROW (ATLANTIC COAST) (Ammodramus nelsoni subvirgatus)
FOX SPARROW (RED) (Passerella iliaca iliaca)
DARK-EYED JUNCO (SLATE-COLORED) (Junco hyemalis hyemalis)
WHITE-THROATED SPARROW (Zonotrichia albicollis)
SAVANNAH SPARROW (Passerculus sandwichensis)
SONG SPARROW (Melospiza melodia)
LINCOLN'S SPARROW (Melospiza lincolnii) [*]
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)
Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)
NORTHERN CARDINAL (Cardinalis cardinalis) [*]
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
BOBOLINK (Dolichonyx oryzivorus)
RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus)
COMMON GRACKLE (Quiscalus quiscula)
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
EVENING GROSBEAK (Coccothraustes vespertinus)
PINE GROSBEAK (Pinicola enucleator)
PURPLE FINCH (Haemorhous purpureus)
RED CROSSBILL (Loxia curvirostra)
PINE SISKIN (Spinus pinus)
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)
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]
SNOWSHOE HARE (Lepus americanus)
PLAIN EASTERN CHIPMUNK (Tamias striatus)
WOODCHUCK (Marmota monax)
RED SQUIRREL (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)
FIN WHALE (Balaenoptera physalus)
HUMPBACK WHALE (Megaptera novaeangliae)
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)
GRAY SEAL (Halichoerus grypus)
WHITE-TAILED DEER (Odocoileus virginianus)
MOOSE (Alces alces)
CARIBOU (Rangifer tarandus caribou)
Totals for the tour: 129 bird taxa and 11 mammal taxa