Birding photography is somewhat of a bust with Macy in tow, but the experience is just as good and the company is even better.
Me and Macy just spent a few days in Newfoundland. Mainly working, but trying to bird here and there after work and on the way to and from the ferry. Mother Nature was not very cooperative but she did throw out a few half ways sunny moments.
I started out with a target list and got exactly none of them. Having read up on Bruce Mactavish’s blog about the seabirds I had high hopes of getting a sighting of some Manx Shearwaters as the Capelin are running but the day I finished up work for the day in St. John’s it was very foggy at the coast so I didn’t even bother to go to Cape Spear.
The day before had been extremely windy and rainy so I thought there was a slim possibility there would be some Petrels in Holyrood and had to drive through that area on my way to a sales call so took a peek but no dice.
Clearly I have to return for seabirds.
We were staying at a B&B in Clarenville (thank you so much Patricia!!!) so Witless Bay was a short detour on the way home from work that day and I was not to be deterred so stopped for a quick peek out to Gull Island where I could hardly see my hand in front of my face let alone the water.. Macy stuck here tongue out as if to say, yeah no birds just fog let’s go hiking!
And so we were off to a nearby hiking trail that eBird suggested as a hotspot, Mickeleens Path. Much like the rest of Newfoundland it is highly under-reported and an excellent opportunity to view both woodland birds and sea birds. Another time I’d like to do the full 7km in to get a land view of Gull Island. Time constraints are the bane of business trips 🙂
Here as with my other brief stops on the island we found the usual suspects. Juncos are to Newfoundland as Song Sparrows are to Nova Scotia. Boreal Chickadees replace our NS Black-capped variety by far. Gray Jays, Woodpeckers, Thrushes, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and a myriad of Wood Warblers are all over at this time of the year but my target species of Mourning Warbler eluded me. The habitat in the CB highlands is very similar so I expect I will see them there at some point if I’m unable to return to the Rock on a suitable time-frame.
Two Fox Sparrows greeted us on the trail singing very loudly, which are another bird we don’t see as much of back home.
My last day on the Rock was all about driving as I had a 7+ hour drive to the ferry and had to be there at 945PM. So I got up early and stopped for the morning in Terra Nova National Park before making the majority of the trek, and did manage to get ahead of the rain for the most part.
Hands down this is my favorite place to bird in Newfoundland and I’ve visited a good majority of the island over the past few years. It is one of the birdiest places for Wood Warblers I’ve ever been. This park is vast and serene, a Canadian treasure. One day I hope to be able to spend a week there on a strictly pleasure trip but for now I will savor my 4 brief hours.
We started off in South Broad Cove where Macy helped me find Spotted Sandpipers on the beach. In actuality she spend most of that time trying to mentally sort out reflections and seaweed but I digress.
But first we were greeted by a sweet little Woodpecker.
As we walked down towards the beach we had a learning experience when we startled 3 Pine Siskins and they sounded off like zippers! I had never heard them make that noise before and had no idea what kind of birds they even were. It took some forensic work to figure it out as the photos of them in the trees were sketchy but it all makes perfect sense now and we caught this one behaving in a more civilized fashion on the way out.
We enjoyed a variety of singing warblers including this handsome American Redstart. Again I must mention that photographing birds with an on leash dog is not the easiest so this was not a photography day but nice to at least capture the birds. Honestly it was mostly all about Macy as she had been on the road with me on ferries, in hotels, and in a bunch of pet stores and primarily way too much time in the car!
Alvan Buckley had suggested Ochre Hill and Sandy Pond as good birding spots. Thank you Alvan, Ochre Hill is amazing and was new to me. I will be honest I was afraid to encounter a bear or moose so didn’t spend enough time there were not many people around and the big critters are with young and a dog is unhelpful in these situations. Someday in early June I hope to be able to spend an entire day in this area the bog is wonderful. Much like the path to West Brook Pond in Gros Morne I thought. I wish I had the ability to bird the Warblers by ear better as there were many species singing I could not identify, but I did get a good show by the Wilson’s Warblers and we don’t see that many of them back in NS so that was fun.
Next stop was Sandy Pond. I’d been there before so had an idea of what area I wanted to check out. Macy is not sure about water paths yet but is certain she likes to chase squirrels. The squirrels appreciated the fact she was on leash for sure!
It was pretty quiet as the season hasn’t ramped up so we were greeted by birds flying across the access road and caught up with this Hermit Thrush early on.
As we got out of the car at the parking area 6 Ring-necked ducks took off.
We found a group of 4 White-throated Sparrows who seemed to be breeding there and I am pretty sure there were both tan morphs and black stripes but I can’t say for certain. I blame Macy sound reasonable?
We snuck up on this Hermit Thrush. I love it when the birds think if they stay still they will be invisible and have to say it works more often than not.
Our last stop, the South West Arm, was recommended by one of the staff at the Visitor Center as a great birding spot and it sure was but the rain finally caught up with us so we couldn’t take much in. All new boardwalks and paths that join up with the South West Brook Trail I highly recommend this area. It is both coastal and woodland with a marsh in between.
We found this flycatcher which I believe could be Yellow-bellied but it was silent and I find them tough to tell apart so I could also be wrong.
All over Terra Nova there were Ruby-crowned Kinglets.
We were sad to leave the rock, but happy to be back in Nova Scotia now. I think that is enough adventure for one girl and her dog for now 🙂
Angela & Macy