Friday, June 17, 2011

Black-legged Kittiwake - 2011: Part II

 While my preferred style of bird watching is to go for long walks in the woods, I do not prefer to be wet and cold. Given the 5c below-average temps that we have been having and the incessant rain, drizzle and fog, I have been car-bound for much of my spotting expeditions for the last month.

Undeterred from the activity altogether, I set off in my car to drive a different area from time to time. On this day I took a trip along Bauline Line to Pouch Cove, Flatrock and Torbay. A few small birds darted in front of my car and I could hear birds
singing beyond the tree line but I rolled on.

For the first half hour the only bird of note that I spotted was a lone Ring-necked Duck in a small pond along the roadside. I stopped and looked for a few minutes and once again, rolled on. Thinking the weather was not fit for man nor bird, I was beginning to think that I wouldn't see anything special this day.
I detoured into Flatrock and checked the lookout near the Grotto. They have constructed a new interpretation centre there, I think. Whatever the structure it obstructs the view. It would be really nice if there were a scope and a bird observatory in the building. The wind in this area is often very high and is often a hindrance to bird watching.

There didn't seem to be any activity in the waters so I drove on through Flatrock where I noticed some unusual gull activity taking place on the rocky beach. I pulled over at the second lookout and was very surprised to find a flock of Black-legged Kittiwakes busily collecting grass for nest construction, I imagine.
It was quite the sight. They were fighting over the resource and taking all they could like there was a limited supply. They kinda reminded me of people in the hardware store pushing and shoving to get door crasher items offered in limited supply. It was every bird for itself and some took so much that they could hardly fly. Once the kittiwakes had a full load, they would fly offshore, probably to the side of a cliff to build the nest.
As soon as one group would fly out another would fly in. I have read that it is somewhat unusual for Black-legged Kittiwakes to come to shore but these were clearly on a mission. There must be a nesting colony being set up on the cliffs surrounding Flatrock. I don't know if this is common but it was my first time to witness this behavior. It made my drive well worth it.

Even on the most dreary days, something really quite spectacular seems to unfold. That is what keeps me exploring the natural world.

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