If there is one thing we know it is that Short-billed Dowitchers will appear around Cape Sable Island and especially The Hawk in numbers from mid-July onwards. This year they are a bit early and you wonder if they, like so many other birds, have had a poor breeding season. The thing is, they can probably stand a few but species like Roseate Tern, whose dramatic breeding collapse along with the other two tern species, can’t afford the luxury of sitting out a year. For more on the subject of the tern disaster read Alix’s blog here: http://alixdentremont.blogspot.ca/
One upshot of this lack of breeding, and therefore feeding urgency has been the presence of Roseate Terns off Daniel’s Head and The Hawk. Whereas previously just one or two have been the norm, and then not daily, currently up to ten are fishing offshore and occasionally coming closer. Fortunately they, unlike the Forster’s Terns that have been around since the end of June, are easy to pick thanks to their cat-toy flight action and whiter plumage. The Forster’s have hardly been obliging but I have seen them occasionally but never near enough to photograph. The Roseate Tern photos below were taken from Daniel’s Head beach while the terns attended the feeding Double-crested Cormorants.
Incidentally, while watching the tern feeding frenzy I snapped this group of terns. Two Common, one Roseate (blurred) and another. Not really sure of the bird bottom right although it is a lousy photo. Structurally it is bigger than the Common Terns, whiter too and, had the bill been orange I have considered Forster’s, I might still have to. Another bird was further away so the shots are even worse, answers on a postcard for this one.
Going back to The Hawk, on the morning of July-9th Mark McCollough (not someone anyone knows around here) saw and photographed a Brown Booby on rocks off the beach. Details are limited but at least he reported it through eBird and we are all looking forwards to seeing the photo. The last one on CSI, a good few years back, spent perhaps a day flollopping, it’s a booby thing, around one of the camps on The Cape before shuffling off this mortal coil, Sharron and Ronnie found it dead near the light. Thinking this new bird might do the same we charged around The Cape the next day, seeing nothing of note so perhaps it has shipped out or, it may just be sitting on a rock near you!
The dowitchers I mentioned earlier have now topped 1800 today (July-13th), a rapid rise from around 700 under a week ago. In their midst today were 350 or so Semipalmated Sandpipers, 140 Semipalmated Plovers and few other species besides. Best of all were a couple of Hudsonian Godwits that fed on the edge of the mud at range, then they flew over the parking lot allowing for a few doc-shots to b grabbed. I had a Bonaparte’s Gull this morning too so it was well worth the early start and patient sift through the shore birds.
Finally, it has been good to see a few visiting birders around CSI recently although the weather has been quite cruel at times. Fog has visited far more times that we’d like although sometimes it has resulted in good birding. Mostly though it has been a real pain, even appearing when the wind had northerly elements to it, definitely not part of the script. Hopefully we will get more good days than bad, especially as autumn tends to be better than spring, weather-wise.