Shearwater Soup

Off Daniel’s Head, sea birds come and go as the food supply does. Some days you are lucky to see a Northern Gannet, others the action can be quite brisk although birds such as shearwaters rarely come nearer than half-way to the green buoy (anyone know how far offshore the green buoys are?) when they can be seen reasonably well through a spotting scope. That changed when an inshore incursion by Cory’s Shearwaters took place.


One of my stock Cory’s Shearwater photos.

Cory’s are currently uncommon summer visitors to various parts of Nova Scotia’s ocean environment, usually in very small numbers. They are also seen as ones and two on pelagic trips although they don’t seem enamoured so much by chum, well who is? A clue as to the changing status quo came while sea watching at nearby Baccaro. Around 40 were seen flying around or loafing in a group and it was considered something of a treat. This morning, 10/1/16, at least 70 off Daniel’s Head was only a taster. Ronnie, Alix, Mike and I went to The Cape, it turned out to be a visit to Cory’s central.

We reckon on there being 350 Cory’s just around The Cape, many more shearwaters, most likely the majority being Cory’s, lazily coursed the waves out of identification range. Of those offshore The Cape, some were close enough to photograph, I though concentrated on looking for a Scopoli’s. The Scopoli’s Shearwater is, on this side of the great pond at least, a race of Cory’s that essentially breeds in the Mediterranean, the nominate form being an Atlantic breeder. The differences between the two are minimal and possibly some subjective. The prime differences being a white underwing extending onto the primaries, the bill is finer, the plumage lighter in places and there may be a hint of a contrast on the upperparts making a letter M of sorts.

Well Alix and I saw one with reasonable looking underwings while Ronnie photographed another showing the same features. While this might be perceived as not enough to clinch a Scopoli’s, it is enough for showing characteristics of. Ideally the shearwaters will hang around a while, and the right ones will come within lens range so we can get that proof for the record.

The trip was quite productive in others ways in that we got this flighty Clay-colored Sparrow, found by Ronnie, that only paused briefly.


Oddly The Forest and the shitty mess made around the lighthouse failed to hold much but the beach did have four immature American Golden-Plover and a Black-bellied that had a wound, raptor inflicted or shot.

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Going back to the previous day I finally managed to find a Nashville Warbler for CSI. Year bird there #218, CSI life bird 240. Typically, after finding my first a second one came along elsewhere on CSI about an hour later.


Sparrows have started to arrive, as evidenced by this White-crowned Sparrow along Kenney Road, CSI.


Later a Bald Eagle ambled by.


Later the same day this Whimbrel wandered past at Baccaro.


Hudsonian Godwits have been scarce around CSI recently so this one on Daniel’s Head was welcome.


Here are some lousy photos of a sterna tern seen off Daniel’s Head 9/30/16. I suspect Forster’s but the views were even worse than the photos, brief too.

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A yard sappy.



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