Each year there are a number of off-the-beaten-path locations that birders just have to visit. Among these is Conception Bay South and North. This area actually requires two visits in an effort to see seabirds in the winter and shorebirds in the summer.
I recently made one of these trips with Alison Mews. It was a beautiful day - sun shining, reasonable winds, snow-covered landscape, and lots of birds. Every now and then, I would just have to pause to drink in the experience.
The trip begins in Chamberlains where a variety of sea ducks gather including Common Goldeneye, Red-breasted Mergansers and scaup. The one bird we were hoping to see in this area, a Bonaparte's Gull, was not to be found.
Along the way, we checked Conway Brook finding four Green-winged Teal and Pond Road where we found plenty of mergansers, goldeneye and scaup. Avondale is one of the few locations where seeing the little Buffleheads is pretty much a given.
Holyrood is always good for Common Mergansers; yet, there seemed to be less this year.
On a beautiful day, even an American Black Duck becomes special.
Some of our best views of the ducks moving around the shoreline came in Harbour Grace where there were plenty of Common Goldeneye and Greater Scaup zooming from one location to the other. There were also at least two American Wigeons in the area. The high numbers of scaup were notable at most every stop.
There were a few really good opportunities to see some of the ducks close-up. With the sun shining, the vibrant colors on the varieties of ducks necessitated long gazes through binoculars to enjoy every moment.
A lone Tufted Duck sat just off from a large flock of scaup in Harbour Grace. This was the only Tufted we saw all day.
While in Spaniard's Bay, we scanned the few birds in the area to try to locate the Barrow's Goldeneye. It was nowhere to be seen. Sometimes, missing the Barrow's means another trip to the area is required as that is the only location on the Avalon where it is possible to see this species. I think I could handle that.