It’s Been a Day

We finally got the (mainland) action we’ve been waiting for today when a modest fall-out gave us a few treasures. My day started on The Hawk and, at first, it was very quiet. Had the man got it wrong, was it to be a breezy follow-up to Thursdays wet day with sparse birding again? I sat staring at the bushes for a good 20 minutes before movement caught my eye in the form of my first White-eyed Vireo for the year, now we were talking! It was with a Blackpoll and feeding actively, quickly moving off before the lens could embrace it. Moving on to another spot and viola, another White-eyed Vireo and a Black-throated Blue and a Parula, things were looking up.


Transferring to Kenney Road, the first little flock continued the theme with another two White-eyed Vireos and something of a prize, a Yellow-throated Vireo. I was ready with the camera when a local taking his constitutional flushed the lot. I had managed to grab three low-quality shots of the Yellow-throated, for the record, and then I put the news out, it is a good bird in NS. I roamed further out to the woodlot on the shore, plucking a late Black-and-White Warbler from the chickadee flock but not a lot else, still, a CSI tick and two year ticks would do very nicely.


Breaking for a civilised lunch, a call from Ervin had Sandra and I bustling down to Daniel’s Head pronto, he’d seen a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, a long-awaited CSI tick. We hiked the inner beach trail to where Ervin awaited our arrival. The cuckoo surrendered eventually but never posed for me. The bushes inside all seemed to hold birds but we had resolved to head to Kenney Road to try to re-find the Yellow-throated Vireo, however, a flutter some distance off was tracked down to being the work of a splendid Hooded Warbler.


The day now stood at three CSI and three year ticks while my fifth White-eyed Vireo of the day popped up, along with a very late Veery and a supporting cast of Cape May Warblers, Magnolia, Blackpoll and I even had time to miss an Indigo Bunting. My Nova Scotia year list is just one shy of 280 and my CSI not big year after last year’s big year is 242, seven up on last year.

Tomorrow will probably not live up to today although you never know. Perhaps the empid Mike saw briefly along Kenney Road might show up again and be something exotic, being mobbed by a Kentucky Warbler would also be appreciated!


King of the Tropics

On Oct-24, 2017 I texted Ronnie saying “hot, sunny, birdless” because it was. Ronnie replied “this is s**t”, and so a lovely but quiet October day unfolded. We were just leaving the hardware store when Ervin called, he’d found a kingbird that was much yellower than any of the recent Western Kingbirds in our area. He was going to send me a photo, one was already on the wires to Alix.

At home the photo arrived but from Alix, along with a phone call where one thing was discussed, the size of the bill. Firing up Red Dwarf and making calls on the hoof, we whisked along highway 103 knowing that we were heading towards either a Couch’s or a Tropical Kingbird. When we got there the bird had moved along Chebogue Point Road and I had visions of seeing a pinprick heading out to sea. Luckily this was not the case and we all spent time observing and listening for the tell-tale call, diagnostic as it would be.

The bird appeared nervy or perhaps it was just hyper-active. It fed in the manner of all flycatchers, eating flies! Getting light-side was difficult but we all accumulated a selection of shots, as diagnostic as they can be with this species pair. Although the breeze did a sound job of masking calls, the kingbird did give itself up a couple of times and we were able to compare the heard with the app. As the twitch went on the bird settled down and we got better shots, Nova Scotia’s first, confirmed Tropical Kingbird.


We birded around the end of Chebogue where a Lapland Longspur had fled but a group of American Pipits picked their way through the fly-ridden rotting kelp.


Later this Great Egret was at Daniel’s Head, they’ve been a bit scarce this year.

The day turned out not so s**t after all.


Not Such a Lark

There I go with my tabloid headline again! On June-16, 2017 a meadowlark showed up at Daniel’s Head, Cape Sable Island. Found by Clyde Stoddard, it showed to a handful of people before becoming unavailable. During the time it was on show I took a batch of photos, the main intention being to show the extent of white in the outer tail feather because, to put it simply 3+ = Eastern, under 3 = Western. I agree it is a very simplistic formula but one that works, to some extent. There are however variables to consider, either relating to plumage, song or call. You can read the original blog post here:

At the time I was sure it was an Eastern Meadowlark. I took the tail requirements as set in stone and I relied on my not to great musical ability when assessing both call and song. There were some plumage anomalies but I glossed over them somewhat. At the time only Jim Edsall questioned the identification via Facebook but I stood my ground. Since then, whenever I’ve browsed my photo stock, as you do, I have felt nagged in rather the same way those yappy little dogs do, and it just won’t shut up. I was asked to write up the lark for Nova Scotia Bird Society bulletin, and here is where I allowed my inner sceptic to surface and seek more informed advice.

I chose the Facebook Advanced Bird Identification group, knowing that most of the brains in the group knew what they were talking about. There is no shame in asking opinions, neither is there shame in getting it wrong. If you think there is then you are a short-sighted fool. In writing this, and in no way meaning to undermine the NSBS bulletin which is the historical record, I thought to start with the events of the day.

The meadowlark showed to Clyde, Johnny and Sandra Nickerson, Mike MacDonald and me by flushing out of the inside vegetation at Daniel’s Head and landing in the open area we know as the trailer parking lot. It was around 80m away most of the time and against the light somewhat. I thought I heard it call “dzick” a couple of times but neither Clyde nor Mike remember hearing a call. I focussed on views and photos and, because the bird was very skittish, in-flight opportunities were frequently available. The bird then went missing; this coincided with the arrival of Paul Gould, Laurel Amirault and Ervin Olsen.

After some searching, I found the meadowlark over by the parking bays that project into the inside, roughly 250m from the other birders present, so I called Ervin and he passed on the word. In the interim I had intended to record its song, which it delivered very briefly from a small bush. It was again into the light and, by the time I’d made the call to Ervin it had shut up. I remember the song as sounding like the Eastern Meadowlarks I heard regularly in Quebec.

More photos were taken by all, including when it flew over a channel into short marsh and fed, before the bird scooted out of sight again. Sandra Dennis arrived and we had a couple of views before it again went absent. I stuck around after everyone had left, hoping for photos with some backlighting. I didn’t stomp around, instead hoping that it would land in a suitable spot for me to get my shots. At one point I saw it fly off over the salt marsh towards the fish plant on the end, but it came back and was feeding around the inlet edge when I left it.

So there you have it. The bird was not seen again that day despite searching. I didn’t see it again at all but Clyde said he flushed it twice on two separate days. Once home I looked at the photos and made my identification. I posted to the blog and to various Facebook groups with, as I said, only Jim asking questions.

The responses from the Advanced Bird ID group proved very informative (see the section after the links). Meadowlarks are not straightforward at all unless they are near text-book, a complication is that there is a zone where both populations exist and interbreed and each species is known to learn each-others song. The group also flagged plumage details that I wasn’t fully aware of as my contact with Western Meadowlark is fairly limited, just to a few trips out west and one bird in Quebec. Eastern is a different thing and I’ve seen them in many places including Costa Rica and Panama where they also look different from the standard eastern model.

All field guides stress the malar colour as differing between species, white on Eastern, yellow on Western. A ‘classic’ Eastern, and I am loathe to use such a term as often there is no such thing as a ‘classic’ when it comes to species with plumage ambiguities, has such and obvious white malar that there should be no doubt. Below is such an individual, taken in Quebec during May 2012 showing just that.

The bird in flight below is also from QC, May 2015. On the perched bird note the streaked, not spotted flanks. The well-marked head pattern and ‘cleaner’ cheeks. On the flying bird the outer tail feathers would seem to favour Western more but the malar is white and you can see the thick, dark bars on the upper tail. A feature of Eastern, see the links at the end for more visuals via skins..

The Daniel’s Head bird looked quite different. Here is a shot of it on the ground from distance. Note the malar colour. The flanks show more spotting than streaking. In this shot the head pattern is indeterminate.

The next shot is a side-by-side flight shot of an Eastern (top) and the Daniel’s Head bird. Note the overall washed out look of the DH bird.

As an example, here is a Western Meadowlark photographed near Reno, Nevada in March-2013, followed by the DH bird perched up in a bush. Not the flank pattern.

The DH bird above clearly shows a yellow malar. Below is another Western from near Reno, Nevada in March-2013. Not also the flank pattern of the DH bird, on this side at least!

Note the face pattern, overall washed-out look and the flank pattern. This from a Western well within range.

In flight the tail pattern of the DH bird can be better assessed. Unfortunately the shot isn’t great but you can clearly see the fine tail barring, said to be one of the diagnostic features of Western.

And one of the DH bird from the side.

Here is a photo to show the comparison between the birds in one shot. It goes, from left to right. Western, Eastern, DH bird, Western.

And now a shot showing the wing pattern of the DH bird more clearly.

In taking all plumage issues into account, there has to be some brief consideration given to the hybrid option. A hybrid may show mixed plumage characteristics although it is fair to say that they are poorly known and the hybrid option is too often the first resort when it comes to a confusing individual. To me at least, and based on the percentage of pro-Western plumage features, it seems far more likely that the Daniel’s Head bird is a Western Meadowlark and not a hybrid.

The song and call issue is one that cannot be satisfactorily resolved. I stick by my rendition of the call as “dzick” but as for the song, I cannot be sure that I could hear it all, I don’t get notes in the higher register these days and, in the absence of a recording there is nothing to assess.

One final discussion factor is Lilian’s Meadowlark. A putative species, it has features that resemble both species but is currently treated as a form of Eastern Meadowlark. In eBird there does not appear to be any extralimital records of lilianea away from their core range of west Texas through southern Arizona.

To summarise, the Daniel’s Head Meadowlark was more likely a Western based on the flanks pattern, head pattern, cheek pattern, overall paleness, malar colour and tail pattern. Anomalous features appear to be some (but not all) parts of the wing pattern. Indeterminate was the extent of white in the tail.

For a little further reading I recommend looking at these links. The one with the skins is very helpful, as is the write up of a Newfoundland bird (Eastern, surely). I have since re-submitted the bird to eBird as a Western. Other observers still have it as Eastern in eBird which, if they disagree with the Western case, they will need to explain their rationale.

Facebook comments below – unedited but anonymous.

‘The song is learned but the call note is diagnostic. We went through a similar thing in Alberta. A WEME was signing an Eastern song but was never heard doing the call notes’

‘The central tail feathers also look more Western-like, showing spaces between the dark bars. Along with the yellow malar and pale overall tone, a hybrid probably needs to be explored.’

‘Eastern x Western hybrids are few and far between, yet I’d say this bird is a decent candidate for one, with the three outer white rectrices and overall pale body. It also looks like the median coverts are darker than the greaters, primaries, and secondaries, which is slightly more fitting for Eastern.’

‘FWIW, I’d not look at this bird and think twice (about why it wasn’t a Western) in Illinois or Texas. Yeah, there is a little bit more white in the tail, but everything else looks fine’

‘Can anyone make out the pattern of the uppertail coverts? I can’t see it too well, but do they have the dark central shaft streaks typical of Eastern? Also, the post-ocular stripe looks rather drab for Eastern. The amount of white in the rectrices is rather interesting, however.’

‘If this was in Kansas, I’d call it a Western without hesitation based on the malar color, and Meadowlarks in particular are known to learn each other’s song.’

‘Since this is in June, doesn’t the malar field mark work? I thought this was seen only a few days ago, so I didn’t think the malar field mark could apply, being it Autumn and all. Everything about this bird (at least to my eyes) is Western: a rather faded and mottled head pattern, mottled uppertail coverts, and yellow extending into the malar. The only thing that seems off is the extent of white in the rectrices. Also, can anyone get a good consensus on the streaking along the flanks? I’m torn between saying it’s too much for Western, or too little for Eastern.’

‘The yellow malar and messy, dusky cheeks look like classic Western. If this is an Eastern Meadowlark then those two field marks are down the toilet…’

And finally an Eastern Meadowlark from the Pacific side of Panama! I think I’ll stick to empids!

Ding-Dong the Chair has Gone!

There are many things to be grateful at this time of year, but surely one of them has to be the removal of those bloody stupid red chairs. It wouldn’t be so bad if they were not placed in front of things normal people want to look at (normal = birders, although all my non-birder friends are normal by association). I’m talking looking at the shorebirds at the end of Fish Plant Road or passing alcids and shearwaters at Baccaro (different chair obviously – they’re not that big!). Somebody somewhere in NS tourism had an idea (it was bound to happen one day) and so these big red chairs spring up each well, spring and just annoy us. In another life I might have been a bit more incendiary about them, so to speak, but I think the Canadian water has had a diluting effect on me and so I suffer them (but not silently) just like everyone else.  There are better places to put them that are not in the way.

There, I feel better for that little rant. I do appreciate that some tourists like to sit in them and have their photos taken, I’ve even been present when it has happened but…

The birding has been good lately, birdy even, and so I have a backlog of photos, some good, some truly awful but you take the rough with the rougher on this blog. I don’t suppose the Thayer’s lament got much readership, gulls are a speciality subject at the best of times. I suspect the forthcoming one on skuas will have a similarly small audience, but I hope those that do read it enjoy it. It has actually gone down the line of precedence recently as the June 207 meadowlark on Cape Sable Island needs another look and I’ll tell you why in a day or two now, if that isn’t exciting then I don’t know what is!

I’ll start with a humble Black-capped Chickadee, both because I like the shot and because we ignore them unless using their talent for attracting autumn warblers to their little flocks. This was brought home to me on October 20th when I went birding around the manor with Jim Scarff who lives in California. We saw 62 species on what was a quiet day in general terms but he enjoyed what he saw including the chickadee, because you don’t get them in California. It is easy to forget that some birds you take for granted, Blue Jays for example, are not found in everyone’s back yard. It was good to see Jim after ten years, we were on a tour of Ecuador together, and he was much more fun than I remembered although, to be fair, he did have bronchitis in Ecuador which can make you feel a bit shitty.


I know I harp on about our Clam Point yard a bit, but it really is a good place to start the day with breakfast and coffee (I’m not offering, well to a select few I am) and just taking the temperature of migration. Sometimes this can deceive as the yard may be hopping but the rest of CSI might not be. I think the avian treasures of Clam Point are just being discovered. A recent addition to our growing list (now 164) was this Western Kingbird (told you some of the shots were crap!). It was there for a few minutes and I just happened to look up from the PC in time to yell to Sandra and then grab the camera and hobble to the door for shots (of sorts).


Above, sparrow time – one of a Couple of Chipping Sparrows that are around at the moment. Below a Northern Flicker warming up.

Turkey Vulture, been lots around recently. Below, one of several Common Loons that have flown over the house.

Speaking of Western Kingbirds. The one around The Hawk is still there, favouring the wires along Smith Lane.


Mike and I took a turn on The Cape on Oct-22nd. While not being spectacular it was very enjoyable. We got year tick Lapland Longspurs plus nice views of several things and a call neither of us could pin to a shorebird (flying directly into the sun, so hard to see detail when that happens). Here are a selection of shots from the day.


Nice to find a Purple Sandpiper.

We had three Pectoral Sandpipers – there are quite a few around.

Above an Ipswich Sparrow, a form of Savannah in the same way that a truck is a form of bicycle.

Above, American Golden Plover, below Black-bellied Plover – easy.

Lots of sea duck past, they know Sunday is gunning free so they get a move on. These are Surf Scoters.

After leaving The Cape I lingered around The Guzzle, the stretch between Lower Clark’s Harbour and The Hawk. Shorebirds were on the rocks at high tide while an immature Northern Goshawk made a few Starling hearts flutter (tabloid hack mode, sorry).


Moving on to Daniel’s Head, where we are getting a big hole dug ready for the silt that is going to be sucked out of the wharf, this male Black Scoter, or ‘Butterbill’ as it is known locally, was just inside the wharf.


Above, one of 16 Brown-headed Cowbirds currently disappointed by the lack of cows at Daniel’s Head. Below, Red-winged Blackbird.

On October 16th we had a bit of weather and so I went to Baccaro for a sea watch. It was pretty good with plenty of Cory’s Shearwaters – these were photographed (if you can call it that) from the parking lot. Had the first Snow Bunting of the autumn there too.

Here are a few miscellaneous shots.


Above a dozing Long-billed Dowitcher. Below two different Broad-winged Hawks from mid-October on CSI.

The Peregrine above whacked a Greater Yellowlegs on The Guzzle but my car disturbed it. The bird was actually in the water with the yellowlegs which went off shaken. Below, a Pectoral Sandpiper splodging about in the West Head mud.

And finally, I re-did some of my site guide to CSI and have re-published it. I reckoned that, after 1.5 years of it being free I should put a charge on, after all it has been downloaded nearly 400 times and so I see that as having done my bit. The revamped edition, mostly corrections for stuff that has changed, sports Sandra’s nifty painting of one of the Mountain Bluebirds we had in 2015/16 – see the sidebar too. The cost is $1.99US from Smashwords, iTunes, Barnes and Noble and maybe even Amazon, but don’t hold your breath on that one. If you’ve never visited CSI and want to come, it will tell you just about all you need to know about birding the area so put your hand in your pocket (but not very far).

Alas Poor Thayer’s, we knew you vaguely!

So Thayer’s has gone, reduced to a footnote in the taxonomic listings and not even afforded sub-specific status like Larus glaucoides glaucoides and Larus glaucoides kumlieni. I would really like that situation explaining as, to me a simple birder, it would have been logical to retain thayeri for simple recording purposes (always handy should there be future research), even if we can’t have just Larus and have to have it with Larus glaucoides in front of it.

The rationale for the lump seems to be that they (Thayer’s) have been found breeding with Iceland Gulls, well Kumlien’s Gulls actually as it is unlikely, but not impossible, that a Thayer’s and an Iceland would meet anywhere other than the winter feeding battleground of dumps, sewage outflows and fish processing plant waste pipes, long may they remain unregulated! I had always thought that interbreeding was not necessarily a barrier to full species status, if it was, surely we’d be rather reduced in species to say ‘Duck’ for all those anatidae that like to throw their darvic rings onto the table and take home something a little different. I also wonder how hard they looked for the definition of the interbreeding zone. I don’t know what the percentage of mixed pairs in the breeding range would need to be before the species pair became true but, presumably there are pure Thayer’s that only breed with pure Thayer’s so isn’t that a species?

I think, and I’ve said this before, the definition, no make that re-definition of Thayer’s Gull should have been considered before lumping. What makes a gull a Thayer’s, what suite of plumage and structural characteristics are required before you can ink it in? And why did we keep stretching the identification criteria to fit the bird? Now the lump has congealed, we will have thousands of good Thayer’s records that will only make eBird as Iceland Gull, each Thayer’s something of a missed opportunity to define a core range and the limits of dispersal and vagrancy. I suppose I could list again what I think makes a Thayer’s but you already know anyway, you are not the sort of birder to let a degree of difficulty stop you working out what you are seeing, why you can even identify silent Trail’s most of the time, just by looking at them!

I think that we in the field who look at gulls will keep on looking for Thayer’s in season, and probably calling them same in the privacy of our own Excel files. The lumpers and splitters on whatever committee is busy with such activities will still prevaricate endlessly, but most will largely ignore them and make the ID of those obvious, if shop-soiled species anyway, in much the same way that we do with Mew Gull (four species), Fox Sparrow (another four) and don’t forget Willets, eastern and western although I think we’d be better getting away from geographically orientated monikers and move to something more distinctive and accurate, Big Willet and Little Willet comes to mind.

Putting Thayer’s to bed, for now at least, here are a few shots – starting with the 2017 Pubnico bird found by Alix that also visited CSI; going through to pale end Kumlien’s. Remember, these are all Iceland Gulls right!

Yellow-rump Season

Since I last posted, the birding has been busy without being spectacular. Gunning is here and so dawn is pretty easy to mark, it will calm down though, especially when Lobstering starts. Much of the bird activity has been around The Hawk, with pockets of mixed warbler flocks, dominated by Yellow-rumped. It always creeps up on me, Yellow-rumped Warbler season. I know it’s coming when I see the odd one then, boom, just about every movement in the depths of the bushes comes from a Yellow-rump.

With the Yellow-rumps at the moment are good numbers of Western Palm Warblers. eBird still yelps when you enter one, but really they are a relatively common migrant. I’ve been seeing up to five at time and even had them in the yard. For that reason they are the post header bird, my best shots of them so far.


Yellow-rumped, Black-and-White Warbler and Blue-headed Vireo below.

On Oct-12th Johnny called with a Western Kingbird down on The Hawk. Two in a year may seem a bit greedy but I’m not complaining. It showed very well, a pale, washed-out bird that was very active off the wires right at the end of Hawk Point Road. Wire birds never pose very well so I spent more time trying to get it in flight.


Today (Oct-13) I started my birding in the yard. It was cold overnight and the warblers don’t stretch their wings until there is some warmth abroad so there really was no need to be anywhere else. Lots of Yellow-rumped Warblers were soon bouncing around, they never stop chasing each other plus any passing Blue Jays, Northern Flickers and even American Crows get the same treatment. I was about to go inside when I head a call, then saw a Pine Warbler in their midst, yard tick 162. Once inside I started to check my email and glanced up at the largest tree in the yard where a stunted jay sat. Once in the bins it resolved into a shrike not a jay and I called Sandra over to get a look. It stayed around the yard perhaps 15-20 minutes or so, allowing Mike to get here from Daniel’s Head. At one point it was being mobbed by a Chipping Sparrow, something I only added to my CSI year list on Oct-11th!


It missed!

Going back to October-11th and I found a couple of female/immature Indigo Buntings on The Hawk. They stuck around all day but were sporadic in their appearance, preferring the depths of the Alder scrub. Later the aforementioned CSI year tick Chipping Sparrow/s rocked up in the same place and there was another sparrow with them. Both Ervin and I were just leaving when the sparrows flew up into a roadside tree and Ervin started filling his camera card. I saw a peachy-flanked, plain-lored sparrow on one side of the tree while Ervin snapped the two Chippers on the other side. I’m sure it was a Clay-colored but, even though it would be a year bird, I’m not claiming it, not without a photo  and not with the two Chippers in the same tree to add a layer of mystery to the claim.


The one below is the yard bird.

The year lists on all fronts are doing ok, as you will see if you check eBird. In front in NS is Dave Bell, as predicted by me way back in May. He is based on the islands and they get a lot of birds and, unlike CSI, he can get to every spot to look for them whereas we can only cover around 5% of CSI at a best guess. We don’t do too badly though, but you just wonder what we do miss! I’m second in the list and Alix is third although we both have gaps that can be filled so I would expect us both to get near to 280 by the end of the year. I just hope any good birds don’t go dallying around the north or middle on NS but get their feathery cloacas down to the Banana Belt where they will be well enjoyed.

An immature Ring-billed Gull looking a bit weird. around the head/bill

Last Quarter

Now that we are into the last quarter of the year, migrants will become harder to find but there will be days that surprise. Here on CSI. warblers have been trickier to find than expected but perseverance has paid off although not with anything Like Blue-winged Warbler or Yellow-throated Vireo. Still it could be worse, it could be foggy. Obviously the weather plays a big part in the migrant scarcity, plus the fact that  only a tiny percentage of CSI is available to look at, so much great, bird harbouring habitat exists in yards and on private property.

I’ll lead with Orange-crowned Warbler, I’ve seen three this autumn so far and very smart they are too. I find that they are quite willing to come to pish, even more responsive to taped chips and, when they come, they hang around a bit.


Blackpoll Warblers have been around too, in ones and twos and generally inquisitive. These two different birds show how varied autumn birds can look. The last image had me double-checking the ID.


The upper two are the same bird, different angles. The below had me looking hard at it, I don’t recall seeing one quite like this but I’m sure it is a Blackpoll. In the field it looked more Blackpolly.

Shorebird numbers are petering out although we still have over 1000 birds around, just not all stood on the same bit of mud. Sanderling have moved in in large numbers and Red Knot have been using The Guzzle high tide roost during, well high tide actually! These shots show a few, one group containing a Hudsonian Godwit too.


On a short shopping trip to Yarmouth we lucked in on this American Bittern at Sunday Point again. Earlier we found a Bobolink at Chebogue Point. It was a bit camera shy, not surprising as the wind was howling and it would have needed legs like Sidney Crosby to grip those branches.


This Solitary Sandpiper fed on a small, roadside pool on CSI. I stopped for the shots but attracted the attention of three elderly gents who followed me in, flushing the bird. Without knowing what they were looking, they just walked right up to the pool side, it has happened to me before here, perhaps it is a local sport or maybe just that curiosity that sees drivers slow down traffic for a minor fender bender EVERYTIME!


This is our yard Merlin and one of our Mourning Doves. I know people don’t like to see this stuff but that is how they live and we do far worse to the wildlife than a hungry predator could ever do.


I’ll finish off with a few bits and pieces, comments attached.

Above, still a few Nelson’s Sparrows around, below a Philadelphia Vireo on The Hawk, CSI.

About, a Magnolia straggler, below, Least Flycatcher – last of the empids?

Above, a Chestnut-sided Warbler, below a smart immature White-rumped Sandpiper.

A very two-tone October Blue-headed Vireo.

Incidentally, I am in the process of updating the Cape Sable Island site-guide so if you already have it, you might want to get the new version when published shortly. There will be a limited window to do so.

Still writing my Thayer’s Gull post and now I have a meadowlark one to do too.

And to paraphrase Chief Brody from one of my favourite films, Jaws: “We’re gonna need a bigger ball of string!”