Monday, 13 February 2017

The gulls and ducks of St.John's, Newfoundland

The first full day in Newfoundland - and predictably, it was a good one. For a European birder it is a fairly easy adaptation if I'm honest. And I would imagine for North American birders, you can see the appeal - Tufted Ducks are the commonest freshwater aythya, Black-headed Gulls the commonest small gull, Common Gull have outnumbered Ring-billed Gulls (admittedly two vs one) while Eurasian Wigeon are relatively straightforward to see too.

I'm staying right near the harbour in downtown St. John's, so first stop was down by the quayside. Predictably first bird of the day was Kumlien's Gull - the main flock was on the other side of this picturesque natural harbour, but with a bit of baiting the day was off to a nice start: -
adult Kumlien's Gull St. John's, Newfoundland 12th February 2017
The first of several trips to Quidi Vidi Lake started off with a quick walk about with the usual wildfowl present.
American Wigeon Quidi Vidi Lake, Newfoundland 12th February 2017
Tufted Duck Quidi Vidi Lake, Newfoundland 12th February 2017
Pintail Quidi Vidi Lake, Newfoundland 12th February 2017
Given the temperature overnight, it was unsurprising that passerine activity was pretty manic first thing with Song Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos and a Red-winged Blackbird the lot.
Song Sparrow Quidi Vidi Lake, Newfoundland 12th February 2017
Red-winged Blackbird Quidi Vidi Lake, Newfoundland 12th February 2017
On the lake nearby, I laid eyes on my first 'European' Common Gull on these shores - a nice adult, metal ringed (from Iceland apparently).
adult Common Gull Quidi Vidi Lake, Newfoundland 12th February 2017
And then it was to the predictable stuff I was here for - Kumlien's Gulls and the odd American Herring Gull too, including ringed birds of each species (both ringed in St. John's during previous winters).




Kumlien's Gulls (adults top two, third-winter middle two, juvenile bottom) Quidi Vidi Lake, Newfoundland 12th February 2017
A change of scene took us to Mundy Pond, where there were loads more photogenic American Herring Gulls than at Quidi Vidi - good to get the classic bayonets on these Newfoundland adults - and a 2nd-winter Glaucous Gull was about here too.
adult American Herring Gull Mundy Pond, St. John's, Newfoundland 12 February 2017
2nd-winter American Herring Gull Mundy Pond, St. John's, Newfoundland 12 February 2017
1st-winter Black-headed Gull Mundy Pond, St. John's, Newfoundland 12 February 2017
2nd-winter Glaucous Gull Mundy Pond, St. John's, Newfoundland 12 February 2017
We then headed ten or so miles out of St. John's to the small outfall at Chamberlain's near Conception Bay South. There were groups of Goldeneye and Greater Scaup on the sea here, while gulls around the outfall included c.15 Black-headed Gulls, another adult Common Gull, a showy juvenile Glaucous Gull and of course a host of Kumlien's and American Herring Gulls.
juvenile Glaucous Gull Conception Bay South, Newfoundland 12 February 2017
Back in St. John's, we had a scout about the harbour again, where we got accosted in a very un-British way by the security guards; one of them provided us with a printed version of a poem 'Sea Gulls' by a Newfoundland poet John Pratt. Out of courtesy I have read it this evening, but it in no way lights an ever put out flame for poetry. Three Glaucous Gulls were among the hordes of Kumlien's Gulls, as were a good number of American Herring Gulls.
juvenile Kumlien's Gull St. John's, Newfoundland 12 February 2017
The last stop of the day, after another quick check of Quidi Vidi, was Bowring Park. This place was absolutely teeming with Black Ducks (as well as Mallards and assorted hybrids), and like other places in St. John's wherever there is a small amount of water the ducks seem to get fed. So rather disconcertingly all the wild birds were up for any food given - which in this case included two Wood Ducks, a female Green-winged Teal and a drake Eurasian Wigeon!
drake Eurasian Wigeon Bowring Park, Newfoundland 12 February 2017
Wood Duck Bowring Park, Newfoundland 12 February 2017
And that was that - the end to a pretty enjoyable day. We made the most of the good weather, and it is currently snowing a bit here. Tomorrow should be decent but there seems to be a weather warning out for a heavy snow storm on Tuesday. Which could be interesting...

No comments:

Post a Comment