Port au Choix Harbour Colony, and other observations from ebird Big Day 2022

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Douglas Clark

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May 14, 2022, 4:12:58 PMMay 14
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The snow has finally cleared off the back roads on the Northern Peninsula, so time to get in the woods! Just in time for ebird's annual big day, too. While I did not attempt a big day of my own, I did make the effort to do a fairly comprehensive search of the Port au Choix area. Highlights below.

Old Port au Choix Road (Old Eddie's Cove Road on Google Maps)
https://ebird.org/checklist/S109966191

Walked 4k or so from near the Foodland to the rocky beach at the mouth of the harbour, which provides decent scope views of the Eider/Gull/Tern colony. Quietish on the way out, as it was a bit breezier (easterlies) and cooler than anticipated. No wind at all from 6:30 onwards.

Caspian Tern - First of year, one carrying nesting material. (more below)
Lincoln's Sparrow - First of year
Siskin - First of year
White-throat, Fox Sparrows - Everywhere
White-winged Crossbill - Many small groups overhead, moving north.

Migrant Ducks: Common Merg (6), GW Teal (2), Black Duck (2)

Colony

With the grass as short as it's going to be, decent chance to get a good estimate.

CASPIAN TERN - Counted 10 on the colony island, not including birds on the air.
COMMON EIDER - Estimated 150 pairs on land, most including a bird on a nest. Estimated another 50 pairs in the nearby water. Far side of island not visible from shore, so can probably increase true total by 50-100%.
GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL - Estimated 80 pairs
CANADA GOOSE - Estimated 8 pairs (probably should have attempted a count)

Still working out how a viewing point for the inner islands, where it looks like the area's numerous Ring-billed Gulls and Common Terns nest.

Point Riche - 25 minute seawatch
https://ebird.org/checklist/S109969874

Harlequin - two pairs
Alcids - slow trickle mostly heading south, curiously. One Thick-billed, one Common Murre in the water. Many Guillemots.
Purple Sandpiper - 2 on rocks
Eider - 100ish

Port au Choix Main Harbour (Back Arm)
https://ebird.org/checklist/S109974767

LESSER SCAUP - Bird of the day. My first for the GNP.
Greater Scaup - 5
COMMON X BARROW'S GOLDENEYE (hybrid) - One of those times a camera would be nice for verification. Attempts at shooting my phone through the scope failed utterly. Bizarro Goldeneye with two Commons. Field notes in the ebird checklist.

St. John's Bay
Few incidental observations while driving on a non-birding social outing.

Belted Kingfisher - First of year
Black Scoter - 20-25. Not 100%, but had a decent look out the corner of my eye. Close to shore. Regular in these waters regardless.
Scaup - 10-15

Total species count for the day, as of 5:40pm: 46. Not bad for May 14th up here on the Northern Peninsula.

Doug Clark
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