Do the Bartsand

Question: What bird habitually lives at low altitudes and has zero relationship to sand as a habitat preference? Why the Upland Sandpiper of course. I wonder why Bartram’s Plover as a name was ever replaced, certainly not as part of the 1980s mania for re-naming bird species, the time when ‘they’ tried to tell us to call a Dunnock (a European bird, knap for a while and I’ll be back this side of the Atlantic soon) a Hedge Accentor, yeah right! The thing is, Bartram’s Plover is not a sandpiper, it eschews the grainy stuff, it wants grazed prairie where the bug picking is good and you don’t get bothered by those annoying, skittering peeps! The name will stay of course, just like American Thrush will keep pretending to be a robin (through no fault of its own) and Connecticut Warblers would much prefer to keep flying than pay a visit to their namesake state.

Perhaps we should campaign for a unique name, on that tells us what it is because we know what it is, something evocative. Sadly, Plains Wanderer is already owned by a smart Australian endemic, but it would fit, but what of the name used in the deep south (of the US), Papabotte. It is unique and is said to be derived from their weird song which, if you have never heard it is pretty memorable. Personally I much prefer unique names, Bonxie for Great Skua, Tystie for Black Guillemot although there are complications and even bastard for Great Black-backed Gull, I’m pretty sure that is what Thick-billed Murres already know them as.

If you want to hear their songs and calls and see a dinky range map then go to Xeno-Canto (link below) but do come back after although Xeno-Canto is a place you can happily wander around for hours.

https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Bartramia-longicauda

The reason for my interest in Bartram’s Plover is because our current resident (not checked today 26-Apr, 2018) has been around for a good few days now and is confounding logic. First of all why is it sticking to the minute (unless you hand-mow them) lawns of yards on The Hawk when nearby, in fact it probably flew over it to get to The Hawk, is a suitably desolate island with short cropped grass and sheep shit in abundance. Further, why stay in the same disturbed area, shifting from lawn to lawn as various Hawk people go about their business, when there are larger cemeteries nearby which also replicate their preferred habitat to some extent? You’d think that site fidelity would only go so far and, as the bird seems to eat its weight in worms about once an hour, that it would have recovered from the long flap from its South American wintering grounds and moved somewhere less public. Yes, this tiny piece of flesh and feathers flies to the pampas of Uruguay and Argentina (and other countries down there with remnants of pampas) to spend the winter, returning north to breed, only to find that the fields it should be using are now full of canola, corn or stripped to sell as potting soil, life can be a bitch sometimes.

The Upland Sandpipers’ residence with us will come to an end and then it will be a rare and getting rarer treat in Nova Scotia again, and that is mostly why I have taken time to enjoy seeing it daily since it arrived, similarly the Grey-cheeked Thrush that still ‘owns’ the Daniel’s Head fish plant fence. I also kept an eye out as both are popular twitches, news is always welcome and birders do this sort of thing for each other. When gone, both will become a fond memory and, for those of us not pushing up the daisies in ten years’ time, will no doubt be part of a CSI window to window conversation recalling that April when we had…

From slightly enviously watching good birds being found around the Halifax area (but not chasing them, not doing a year list other than a natural accumulation) to having a choice of good birds to see locally has been but a short duration. Whether our blob on the tip of Nova Scotia, (Freud might call it the nipple of avian Mother Earth that feeds her twitching progeny – weird guy that Freud) accumulates birds that drip-feed south after more northerly arrival or whether they just pitch down here because they hit us first I don’t know but, suddenly, we have a couple of Snowy Egrets, Black-crowned Night-Heron should soon follow and, by the end of the year, most of the rare herons we get in NS will have put in an appearance. Shorebirds are turning up daily, warblers are just starting and, before we even know it, summer will be wafting its gentle fog banks our way whichever direction the wind chooses to blow.

One of two Snowy Egrets to be found around CSI in late April.

Mike and I did another visit to The Cape and, since I suspect that new readers have no idea of the geography of CSI I thought I’d include a map here (rudimentary) to orient people. We land at low to mid-tide at Stephen’s Point, then walk The Cape taking in the various features such as Locke’s Cabin (woodpile and scrub), The Forest, a couple of trees, more on that later, around Cape Light taking in the shingle bank and returning which ever route we chose back to either Stephen’s Point or, if the tie is too high, Shell Beach for pick-up. It is best to allow two to three hours for the visit and it is best to check sites like The Forest more than once.  If you have never been to CSI and intend to visit sometime, spend the price of a large coffee on the eBook, it was free for two years but I re-did it and now it requires a small investment. As an eBook it will fit onto a pad, tablet or phone and you can get it for all formats from iTunes etc. If you email me asking for directions to somewhere covered by the book I will point you back to it. While I can manage without the $1.57 I get per book (up to nearly $10.00 worth sold since I re-did it), I do prefer people to help themselves as much as possible, which is why I wrote it.

The blotchy line shows the route from The Hawk to The Cape. I drew a line across Stephen’s Point where the channel grows.

Back to the visit and it was a lovely day to be out. I had ten spruce trees in a backpack, part of regenerating The Forest, and an air of optimism as we landed at Stephen’s Point. Since my first visit back in June 2015 a small inlet between The Cape and Stephen’s Point has expanded with each storm. Since I last saw it another 50m had been added to the cut, at some point Stephen’s Point will not be easily accessible at any tide. Here is a phone shot of the cut.

 

There were a couple of people in Locke’s where we saw a Brown Thrasher briefly but not photographable. At The Forest the willows planted on the wet side of the rock seem to be taking and we should have a good willow holt in a couple of years, a willow holt is a stand of willows. Where the remaining spruce stand, a plantation created in around 1954? By Sid and Betty-June Smith, the keepers of the light, we planted ten spruce of varying transportable age. With a bit more supplemental planting, in fifteen years it should look pretty good, until then I have another cunning plan to enhance The Forest  for Autumn migration, more later. There were a few birds in there. A Hermit Thrush was carefully checked for signs of Bicknallity, a few sparrows hopped around and a Golden-crowned Kinglet joined us.

 

Above, the first of the spruce planting, below but tough to discern, the embryonic willow holt.

Aside from a ton of Savannah Sparrows (we didn’t weigh them, it is a metaphor) we didn’t find much else. We regular Cape visitors suspect that we could do the circuit daily there until late May and find good birds every time, alas once a week is likely all we will be able to manage.

As we came across the channel there was a group of shorebirds milling around including Short-billed Dowitcher and the first American Golden Plover of the season. The rush of birds for the non-year list means I’ve seen 149 species so far, 107 on CSI alone. I don’t expect to get anywhere near last year’s total of 247 for CSI, yes 247 species in one year just on CSI, I bet you are thinking that you really should visit sometime.

Above American and Black-bellied Plover, not sure which is which? Look in you field guide. Below a flock of Dunlin and one Short-billed Dowitcher.

Snowy Egrets at Overton, 25-Apr, 2018 and nothing to do with the post.

Do the Bartsand?, a Simpson’s reference.

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Bird Story

A call from Johnny on 17-Apr, 2018 got us all in a flap, flutter, tizzy sorry, I’ve just read one too many of those birder stories in the press and their wit-lite terminology just will not leave me alone. Anyway, we flew went down to Daniel’s Head where a very rare, never before seen, irregular migrant, a Grey-cheeked Thrush fed happily around the Fish Plant parking lot, a great find by Johnny and Sandra. Grey-cheeked is very close in plumage terms to Bicknell’s Thrush and we were all of a twitter quietly discussed the finer points of plumage and bare part colouration to reach the ID. Not only was the bird a good Nova Scotia rarity, maybe sub-rarity is a better description, it was Sandra’s 300th and an island tick for Mike. It stayed for two days and bird watchers were flocking local birders popped in to see it, especially with it being very showy for a catharus thrush. And finally, to answer the question always asked by the press. Yes there is only one and no, it won’t breed; not unless it has been taking lessons from an Amoeba! A great find by Johnny and Sandra that has stayed faithful to its chain-link fence for a few days now.

The little blip of a weather system that brought the thrush, probably the earliest for Nova Scotia (Tufts has 25-Apr) also brought a few more birds here and there. For us in the south the ‘there’ was Pubnico Point where Ronnie found a Summer Tanager in paint-box plumage, you know, the one that is many colours but variations on a basic theme. It showed very nicely despite the weather turning foul, it had Eastern Phoebes for company, which was nice.

Zonk forwards to 21-Apr and Greg White snapped a sandpiper on a lawn on The Hawk. Texts pinged and soon we were watching a confiding, if you were cautious, Upland Sandpiper. Thing is sandpiper, just like in Buff-breast, is not the right name, for me they are plovers, they feed like plovers and both prefer fields, or lawns in the Upland Sandplovers case. It is still present today 22-Apr, 2018 and seems fit, healthy and happy to de-bug Hawk lawns.

While watching the Grey-cheeked Thrush on 22-Apr a small bird came from sea-ward and settled in the chain-link fence, a Golden-crowned Kinglet. Seeing as they breed within visible distance of the parking lot, it could have been a home bird but I doubt it, I suspect it had just come in off the sea, quite a dull bird too.

Not much else to tell you about, spring has truly sprung although the weather still seems prone to the unkind at times. It’s funny but, you wait in expectation for the spring arrival and, if you are not careful, it is suddenly behind you and breeding is underway. I intend to keep a close eye on it this year (again), these things need watching.

Above, Snowy Egret, Daniel’s Head. You can tell from the slightly pale eyes that it is an immature.

iNat

I’ve been aware of iNaturalist for some time but, because eBird serves reasonably well, I’ve not bothered to explore other avenues of wildlife recording. I have a photo database of Odonata, Lepidoptera and other stuff and iNaturalist allows you to enter the sightings, with a photo, to contribute to their database of records from around the world, this much I am fine with. The system utilises identifications from other naturalists to accept your submissions, rather than the generally experienced eBird reviewer system, and I’m not very sure about that yet. After a few submissions, made to check out the system and get started, I thought I’d build a Cape Sable Island project, whereby everything wild found on the island, except perhaps some of the rowdier locals, would be entered and available for naturalists researching the island’s wildlife – perhaps as a precursor to a visit.

It seems that you can’t have a favourite location, like the eBird Hotspot or personal location system, for each submission you have to enter the location into the Google map thing, although I may have got this wrong. When the map opens you get a circle that you can resize to fit your recording area, here I made the error of not reducing the circle to just a dot anywhere on CSI, resulting in many of my submissions scattered around the local area, some as far as Blanche! I had to do a block re-edit which, once I worked out how to do it was easy enough. The locations do not seem to have changed but there may be a time consideration on that.

The other weird thing is, when I’d entered my stuff for CSI, and then visited my project within my account, there was a slew of other people’s photos of the same species I’d logged but from elsewhere in the big, wide world!! Maybe there is a filter I have to set up, but here is the thing, the help files are not much use, in fact I suspect the Californian designers of iNaturalist may be the Grand-children of hippies, and prone to frequent hereditary LSD flashbacks as parts of iNaturalist seem to make little sense at all; remember, California is where the Apple technicians also live and work, you know the ones that designed an iPod that turns on in your pocket and that does other stupid things that no sane person would want it to do. Microsoft may well have an office nearby too.

I soldiered on a while until I could figure out whether it is me or them, and then decided ‘sod it’ so I deleted the project but not the records. I’ll keep adding stuff as I go especially CSI records, if nothing else it makes me label my images properly, I have been a little slack with that at times. If you are interest then I’d recommend going for a browse (link below), search a few species and see what you think. If nothing else iNaturalist is a repository of things other than (but including) birds. Ideally we’d have one big recording agency and I suppose there is a chance that the two universities than run the projects might get together and produce a fertile offspring, for me the facility to enter a field day complete with all of the various things I took an interest in would be great. https://www.inaturalist.org/

There has been a dribble of migration on Cape Sable Island, the American Oystercatchers arrived at about the right time, Piping Plovers started coming in too, let’s hope their breeding efforts are not futile as happens so often because people just do not care. Swamp Sparrows have crept in, a Tree Swallow should not be very far behind and Palm Warblers are probably gagging to get back to their summer home. Clyde did find a Blue-winged Teal, a smart male, but it didn’t linger too long although we’ve not been back over to The Cape recently and they do like to use the pools there. One nice event is the presence of tooting Northern Saw-Whet Owls in Clam Point. We reckon there may be two, each becoming a nice yard-tick for the resident birders – that would be Mike and me.

 Another little yard event has been the digging of a pond. We rented a back-hoe and I dug a reasonable sized hole, a lumpy dig that illustrated well the derivation of the name Stoney Island! As it develops I’ll post a few images and all so I can get a waterthrush in the yard!

Two of the four, maybe five Piping Plovers on Daniel’s Head recently. These were tagged U9 and X3 and were from Daniel’s Head originally.

Above, a dodgy shot of the CSI Blue-winged Teal and below a Red-necked Grebe getting all dressed up for summer. Yes they do look startled.

Above, some of the 300 or so Brant around CSI at the moment, the Clark’s Harbour ball-field is often utilised for grazing. Below a territorial Golden-crowned Kinglet who found me and my pishing offensive so I pished off. Also a “cronking” Raven.

The fangled contraption below is a phonescoping adaptor. I’ve not had much chance to use it yet but it is very simple to use. There is an expanding clip that sits on just about any spotting scope eye-piece and a simple system for aligning you phones camera lens. Good for some doc-shots and probably good for decent images of relatively static items, I see odonatan applications.

First Cape Trip of the Year

Finally the wind died to the point that the sea was a slicker. We’d mooted a Cape visit for a while but had to wait for the right conditions and this was our chance so me, Ronnie and Mike boarded Warren’s trusty skiff for the short, calm crossing. The tide was rising fast meaning we had to abandon our starting point of Stephen’s Point and landed on Shell Beach, well, what a job the storms did there.

There were some shorebirds to greet us, a flock of Dunlin and Sanderling but the main talking point was the washing away of 400m of dune system leaving a exposed, but very Piping Plover friendly beach, something to keep an eye on (photo later).

Brant were everywhere and we soon came across the first Ipswich Sparrow, keeping company with three Horned Larks.

 

This trip was also an opportunity to plant the area inside The Forest fence, namely the bit on the eastward side which is always wet and should be good for Willows. I’d been out earlier and clipped some, with permission from Debbie the owner and Postmistress, and we dipped the cutting in rooting juice and pushed maybe 60 in. If we get 5% that is some cover for the tired migrants to utilise.

We walked to the light, finding a Killdeer and then this late Snowy Owl. The shingle ridge was a beast after the storm, loose and hard to traverse but traverse we did. It used to be a bit better when we could use the sheep tracks; untold numbers of ungulate ambles had previously compacted the stones but now the winter storms had performed a reset, time to get working you sheep.

 

We came across another Ipswich Sparrow and a few Harlequins but time ran short and we had to get back to the beach for pick up. Nobody was disappointed with our avian haul and we all enjoyed getting back on the fabled Cape. I’m particularly inspired to get there more often having read all of Sid and Betty-June’s reporting in the Nova Scotia Bird Society bulletins recently, that place gets birds, we just have to be there at the same time.

On the way home I checked a little spot I have for Boreal Chickadee and was not disappointed, great little birds.

Get on with it!

We are officially into spring now and so, as per the label, the spring birds should be dribbling through. Grackles at least should be making some sort of effort to keep the side up, but as it is, we have had a very few here on Cape Sable Island, perhaps the stupid wind is putting them and their friends off. Basically we are just waiting for migration to get on with it, so we can add hope to expectation when we head out into the great outdoors looking for the breath of fresh air brought about by a change in the birds. It doesn’t help that the weather conditions have dumped some summer herons and stuff well north of us, how dare they overshoot! Birders in the Halifax region have enjoyed Tricoloured and Little Blue Herons and a Tufted Duck, a nice purple patch indeed.

Locally (well Shelburne) we do have a Great Egret and Sandra and I did manage to see it when we did a tour of east Shelburne County, somewhere we just don’t visit often enough. The egret was found at the second attempt of the day on the falling tide, just outside the main town. It was very preoccupied with gulping down minnows to both about us, nice to find a tolerant one every now and then.

 

The same ride out (29-March) took us to Hemeon’s Head where a bunch of 34 Harlequins were being bounced around by lively surf. We didn’t try to get too close and so failed to get the whole, strung out group in one shot, this will have to do. We also had our first Ruffed Grouse of the year on the way down the head.

 

Nearby we’d had lunch looking at the sea at Lockeport beach. Gulls soon saw that we had food and so lingered and were duly rewarded. Surprisingly one turned out to be a Lesser Black-backed Gull, how many slip past unnoticed I wonder.

 

This was our second try for the egret, the first one was a bust but we did find a Chipping Sparrow near the entranced to the cemetery, no White-breasted Nuthatch though in fact pretty dead there otherwise, so to speak.

 

On CSI Turkey Vultures have lingered all winter, even in the harshest of conditions. This was one of a bunch performing a rough autopsy on a dead Great Black-backed Gull on Daniel’s Head.

 

In the yard we’ve had a Fox Sparrow a couple of times too.

 

I saved the best for last; yes I know it is a gull! Despite there being a raging snow storm on 22-March I ventured out, just to check out West Head CSI for the leucistic Glaucous Gull (now gone). I saw a couple of gulls on one of the pallets between the wharves and, from my distant spot, one looked to be a Lesser Black-backed Gull (the smaller one, it’s in the name!). I drove around in very poor visibility and it was still there, so I grabbed a snap from the car despite barely being able to see the birds for snow. It looked a bit off for LBBG so I got out and tried to get something better. I’m not sure what it is but LBBG does not fit and not just because the pink legs (should be yellow to orange) are not that commonly found in the species. Have a look at the shots and see what you think.

 

I keep going back to it; this is all the photo reference I got as the bird flew off the pallet and over me and away and has not come back since, stupid bird! It could be a runty Great Black-backed or it could be a hybrid GBBG X Herring, I don’t really know as I didn’t see the open wings at all. There is some size difference between the sexes of large gulls but I would say this is not the factor here, thoughts anyone?

Nothing Worse than Wind

You know that pain you get, tight stomach, discomfort and listlessness, then you realise yes, it is very windy out again and the day will be one of chills but few thrills. That sums up March 2018 so far. Every day the wind has called to see how we are and stayed on like an unwelcome relative who does not take the hint to go. Today (21-Mar, 2018) we celebrate the start of spring and ready ourselves for the fourth nor’easter of the month, the trees are already jigging about in anticipation. We don’t expect snow on CSI from this one, the weather people just say rain, so I’ll keep the snow shovel handy, they have been known to miss slightly before (and they actually get paid to forecast the weather, amazing).

Because of the uninspiring conditions, and a touch of post-traumatic-dip-disorder (PTDD, yes it’s a real complaint, think Kelp Gull and Mistle Thrush) we have not been far, certainly not as far as the waste site at Arichat where a Black Vulture has been in residence since 2017. Having seen very many of the species elsewhere, it is hard to drag one’s weary limbs on another cross-country hike even though the chances of seeing it are reasonable. Were the Black-headed Grosbeak and Bullock’s Oriole still on the board in Sydney and Glace Bay, then we would probably have gone. For now the far flung reaches of Cape Breton will just have to wait a bit although the thought of seeing new places in NS always appeals. After all, I don’t want to just go off on an ego trip, although I would like to join the cabal who have Black Vulture on their Nova Scotia life list.

The lead photo on this post may be a Long-tailed Duck, but herein lies the deception for this post is mostly about gulls, quite possibly for the last time this winter although don’t hold me to that.

 

Last year, and the year before that I was past 100 species on CSI inside the first five weeks of the year, not an ego thing, just the statistics of birding daily, actually I just passed 600 consecutive eBird days of checklists, I must try harder. This year I languish on 84 for CSI for no less effort but certainly way fewer bird species than I had averaged previously, around 20 less species actually. Why? because there has been very little variety in the bird life of CSI this year and even Shelburne as a county. This is also borne out by the fact that the county sits fourth in the eBird year list, a situation that may well change as migration kicks in, if we get a normal spring migration. The county year list figures are skewed by the fact that eBird contributors are few in Shelburne, Yarmouth too, whereas much of the active Halifax area birding contingent are contributing to eBird, although every county probably has its non-eBirding birders that see stuff that never makes the database.

For the record, this year the table of counties recording over 100 species reads (as at 21-Mar, 2018): Hfx, 134; Yar, 113; Kin, 108; Shl, 105; Lun, 101.

The all-time  eBird list of counties is probably more reflective of both location and birder population: Hfx, 377; Yar, 363; Shl. 361. Only eight of Nova Scotia’s counties have recorded more than 300 species although this may change as historical records are uploaded to the database. If you are interested in this sort of stuff, go and look at eBird and, if you don’t contribute, please think about doing so.

Speaking of records, I have been compiling (slowly) a Cape Sable Island database, perusing each of the Nova Scotia Bird Society bulletins and then adding the relevant records to my database. As I said, it is slow going but both interesting and frustrating in equal measure. Interesting as there are batches of Nova Scotia records that even I with limited experience of the Province look at and think, no, a misidentification there (think Arctic Loon). Then there is the frustration of past newsletter editors giving me a page on Great Blue Herons and Song Sparrows but, when having made statement that Northern Cardinals had arrived in NS in unprecedented numbers, only supplying a few lines of general information. Similarly, where a species is actually rare at a location, and obviously this information may not be within the scope of the editor/account writers knowledge, details are lacking while, once again, Song Sparrow (as an example) is well covered but say Pied-billed Grebe is not.

Reading the historical CSI records is encouraging, for some species there is no reason why they will not show up from time to time. Others that were formerly regular now have much reduced populations and have shifted from annual too rare, that too is interesting to plot. Thankfully we had Sid and Betty-June Smith out on The Cape and their observations are the backbone of CSI records for many years. It would be very interesting to see their actual notes rather than the condensed and occasionally eclectic data presented in bulletins.

I appear to have digressed slightly. Back to the gulls (yay!). As I mentioned in the previous post, Glaucous started to pop up at both Swimm Point and West Head. I have been working both sites regularly as gulls gather there, while at West Head there are various dead things on the shore (a Bear!) and, hopefully, any passing Ivory Gulls will find something nicely gamey and hang around waiting to be found, although I have to accept that, this year at least, my luck is such that I will visit the sites 100 times apiece and then someone from Halifax popping in on their annual visit to CSI will actually be the finder, if it happens.

Mostly the Glaucs were 1stW or 2ndW, there was one adult, an age class we don’t get too many off. Then there was the beast! More shots below of the West Head Glauc took up station for a few days and was so white as to be visible from the International Space Station (ISS). It clearly has pigmentation problems, the feathers are too white and the legs and bill lack much colouration too. This bird is very distinctive and might have been reasonably expected to have been found wherever it may have put own, thereby allowing us to track it a bit, but nobody on the Facebook North American Gulls has flagged as having seen it, and now it appear to be gone.

 

Adult Glauc below.

A 2cy Glauc at Swimm Point.

Lesser Black-backed Gulls are annual in varying numbers, one September we had 17 at Daniel’s Head on the same day. This year we had more chance of adding Rocking Horse poo to our roses until one, then another showed up at the two tepid spots mentioned earlier.

Thick-billed Murres have had a crap vacation this winter. The wind has given them a very hard time, then they come to CSI and the big gulls all want to give them a tour of their intestinal tract, not fair. After having previously only had seen the odd one, my best day this winter was four (live ones), some still linger.

 

An interesting, messy Iceland Gull.

 

Lastly, here are two female Eiders, very different to look at but a bit too distant to show the difference in their processes (the fronds from the bill onto their foreheads).

 

Well, back to the NSBS bulletins for another session, I’m up to 1974. I do hope they stop shooting specimens for the record soon, it is getting a bit samey.

Winter is Done (in Southern NS)

Maybe a bold statement but when the gulls are on the move there can be no argument; we are done with winter for another year. The change has been subtle, numbers of gulls dropping, those still around looking very crisp in their new and temporary breeding plumage, of course gulls dress for the prom, why would you think otherwise!

This past couple of days I’ve done more or less the same circuit of Cape Sable Island, mostly on the lookout for a Lesser Black-backed Gull, a puzzling absentee on my CSI year list that I am definitely not doing this year. I got one at West Head on March-10th and saw the same bird at Swimm Point today. I also saw a wierd looking Glaucous Gull at West Head on March-10th, very washed out, I aged it as three years old (3cy) which is probably about right. Today I found two adults at Swimm Point and I’m tempted to speculate that they are the same two we had there last winter. Adult Glaucs are not at all common in southern Nova Scotia, in fact Glaucs in general represent 1/100 or rarer around here, and so three this weekend in spots regularly checked and where we have barely had a Glauc on CSI this winter tells me migration is on.

West Head has been pretty good recently, the storms have dumped a lot of Thick-billed Murres into our waters and one or two are always there, pottering about like miserable old folks. Also there are a few Red-necked Grebes. I’ve noticed that, since the storms, both Red-necked Grebes and Common Loons have been in places where I’ve never seen them before, Bakers’ Flats for example. Now that the seas are calm, well at least for now, they are all heading back to the open ocean, it tells you how rough it has been though when these hardy birds have to seek refuge inside.

For people who have and interest in these things, Bruce Mactavish in Newfoundland writes a good piece on Thayer’s Gull on his blog. I 100% agree with him but, as I’ve said before, I suspect other elements were at play in lumping Thayer’s with Iceland. Read Bruce’s views here: http://brucemactavish1.blogspot.ca/

And now a few photos, gulls last!