Monday, December 31, 2012

Additions to my Newfoundland Bird List in 2012

This year has been a great learning year for me. Even though, I saw less new birds, I had a better opportunity to spend time observing and gaining experience, as well as building a greater familiarity with the more common birds of Newfoundland. 
During the year, I added 19 new birds to my Newfoundland Bird List, ending with a yearly list of 187. This was 12 species less than 2011. It seemed birds were more scarce this year. My NL Life list now stands at 234, growing slowly but steadily. All of these sightings occurred because of a combination of luck, and the great reporting and sharing of other birders, and hours put in to make it happen. 
Composing some type of year-end review of my birding experiences extends the period of enjoyment. Each bird pictured here and many others (to be reported later) brings up an array of reflections. As I look at this Yellow-throated Warbler (a "life" bird for me), I can so vividly remember the morning of  August 28th when this bird just appeared. It was a beautifully warm day, and I was just enjoying being out. Little did I think such a great bird would pop out! I was pretty excited.
This Nashville Warbler (first found by Paul Linegar) gave me the royal run-around. I must have made 8 trips in an effort to see my first Nashville before it finally happened.
The Ovenbird was a bird I really wanted to see. It happened on a dreadful morning at Cape Spear when I could hardly stand up in the windy, cold, misty weather that the Ovenbird and I shared. I don't think he wanted to see me as badly as I wanted to see him.
There are several species of sparrows common to our area. I spent a lot of time trying to tell them all apart given the season, maturity and habitats of the birds. All I knew on the morning that I found this Lark Sparrow was that it was quite different from anything I had seen thus far. A quick flip through my guide led me to an accurate identification of this bird. That was an added bonus to being able to see the Lark Sparrow for the first time and independently ID the species.
With a bit of fitness training under my belt this year, I was better able to hike the East Coast Trail beyond Cape Spear. The motivation to strengthen up was pretty strong because this area yielded a lot of interesting birds last year. That was not the case this year, despite my numerous treks up the hill. However, on one morning as I was walking out, I spotted yet another new bird for me, the Lapland Longspur. There is something very special about a new bird just unexpectedly appearing in front of you. It really is all about being in the right place at the right time.
Then, there are those birds that warrant a mad trip out of town. This Ash-throated Flycatcher, very rare to Newfoundland,  turned up in Bonavista. It was a terribly rainy morning, but typically it is the "early bird that gets the worm," so an early-morning drive in the downpour was a must. Fortunately, the flycatcher granted us a great view.
Then, there are the special feeders like Paul and Catherine Barrett's that make it easy to see new birds.  As a result of their diligence to keep the feeders full and willingness to share the special visitors, I was able to see two new "life" birds very easily. These were the Rose-breasted Grosbeak and the White-crowned Sparrow.
There were some other new birds added to my list this year including the Peregrine Falcon, Yellow-headed Blackbird, House Wren (shown above found by Anne Hughes), Gray-cheeked Thrush, Yellow-breasted Chat (shown below), Blue-headed Vireo and Black Scoter.  All told, I saw nineteen new species this year, making for a very exciting year.
Of course, there were the birds I pursued with no success: I went in search (multiple attempts) of the Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Royal Tern, White-winged Dove, Canada Warbler and the American White Pelican. I was within feet of seeing my first Gray Catbird, but I missed that one, too. That's okay, because I will continue to be out there looking again in 2013 and will certainly aim to see more new birds throughout the year. There are many more birds on the Newfoundland Bird List that I haven't seen. It may be time to take a trip to the West Coast to see what other new birds I can view. In addition, I may need to spend a little more time on the Southern Shore in the year to come.
This Yellow-breasted Chat has to be my most prized picture of the year, because it represents so many hours of "chase." I had a very fleeting look at one in the Fall, but could not get it to come out for a clear look. Every time a chat was reported for the last two years, I would go flying out the door in an effort to find it. So many "dips" made me wonder if I would ever get a good look at this bird. At last, the moment came. It was such a satisfying feeling when I actually saw one reported by Alvan Buckley's in his yard. It not only showed up but stayed long enough for me to look at it and photograph it - a small but wonderful thing.

My second-to last new bird of the year was this great American Tree Sparrow that I found during the Christmas Bird Count. What a big surprise!
My last new bird for the year turned out to be a rare warbler, the Townsend's Warbler. Since warblers are my favorite group of birds, this was a very special way to end my year.
As exciting as this year has been, my thoughts of the twelve months that lie ahead are even more exciting. There are still twelve more warblers on the NL Checklist that I haven't seen, not to mention so many other birds in other classifications. 
I would like to thank the more than 13,000 unique visitors who have popped into my site this year. It has been a joy to share the experience with so many peopple as well as my birding buddies, and the experts who were so very helpful  with identification,  Dave Brown, Jared Clarke, Bruce Mactavish and Ken Knowles. Thanks to all, and I suspect I will see many birders out tomorrow as we all try to clean up on the present rarities on the first day of 2013.
..."for auld lang syne, take a cup of kindness yet, and surely you'll buy your pint cup, and surely I'll buy mine! for auld lang syne. And we'll take a cup o' kindness yet, for auld lang syne." and for each new bird!
Happy New Year!

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