Newfoundland – After Work Lifers

Late last week, I had to fly out to Newfoundland for work.  We were exhibiting at the North Atlantic Fish & Workboat show on Friday and Saturday so I decided to book a little later flight home on Sunday with hopes of getting in some quick birding around the St. John’s area.  Lucky for me, Alvan Buckley, who lives in St. John’s, was able to show me around.  He had plans to go birding with Liz and Maurice from Massachusetts so I was able to join up with them for the day.  Liz and Maurice were in the area specifically looking for the famous Yellow-legged Gull that Alvan found earlier this fall.   I was hoping to see this bird as well!  Unfortunately we didn’t end up relocating the bird but we did see some other Newfoundland specialties, many of which were lifers!

Quidi Vidi Lake
Quidi Vidi Lake

The plan was to meet up at Quidi Vidi Lake at first light.  While I was waiting for the group to meet up, I did a quick scan of the lake and noticed some very friendly Mallards and a Bufflehead swimming close to shore.  Within a few minutes, everyone showed up and we got on our way.  The next stop got me 2 lifers in span of about 5 minutes – Mew/Common Gull & Black-headed Gull.  We continued on and scanned the rooftops of many of the buildings but there was no sign of the YLGU.

Rooftop Gulls
Rooftop Gulls

Alvan guided us to many of the local ponds where we turned up some other good birds, including a Common Teal, and my next lifer – Tufted Duck.  Again – no sign of the target gull.  We made another quick stop at Quidi Vidi Lake, then on to Signal Hill.  Here we saw a group of Pine Grosbeaks eating berries and posing for pics.  Too bad I didn’t bring a good camera with me!

Pine Grosbeak
Pine Grosbeak

With no sign of the gull, we decided to head out to Cape Spear for a change of scenery and to hopefully see a few more of my targets.  Along the way, Alvan spotted some Evening Grosbeaks.  We followed them back to a feeder where we watched and listened to them.  I kept thinking… “I hope a few show up back home this winter!”

Evening Grosbeaks
Evening Grosbeaks

At Cape Spear, we spotted some great birds including Black Guillemots, a large flock of Purple Sandpipers, Great Cormorants, and 2 more lifers – Dovekie and Common Eider.

Cape Spear
Cape Spear

We still had lots of time left in the day so we headed back into town to continue the quest for the YLGU, which unfortunately was a bust. While discussing what to do next, Alvan got word of a large group of Bohemian Waxwings being seen up on Signal Hill – another lifer.  Alvan took us to the spot he thought we’d have the best shot of finding them.  He got on a single bird flying around and then 2 large flocks flew right over our head and circled a few times.  Unfortunately they didn’t land but we still got great looks.

Even though we didn’t catch up to the target gull, it was still a great day of birding with some great people.  Thanks to Alvan for showing us around and Liz and Maurice for allowing me to tag along.  I ended the trip with 6 lifers in 8 hours of birding!  I also added 20 birds to my Newfoundland provincial list.

 

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