Monday, 15 February 2021

Nearing the End of Our Costa Rica Trip - Savegre Valley

Our trip was quickly coming to a close with just a few days left. Perhaps I would have been a bit more sentimental during these final days if I had realized that these would be the last experiences I would have in the tropics for well over a year (thanks, Covid!). At the time, I remained foolishly optimistic that we would only be in Canada for a couple of months before returning again to the Neotropics. 

We left the Quepos area behind and headed southeast, following the coastline for a while. It was another perfectly sunny day in paradise. We made one final stop along the Pacific to take in the view, but then it was time to climb into the mountains and head towards cooler climes. 

The car's thermometer steadily dropped as we navigated higher into the mountains. The periwinkle sky was replaced with swirling clouds and bands of fog, and soon we had arrived at our destination - a restaurant called La Georgina that is located just outside Parque Nacional Los Quetzales. We were now situated over 3000 m in elevation. Here, there was very little (if any) overlap with the bird species we had been watching just a few hours earlier along the Pacific coast. At the hummingbird feeders we watched the antics of Talamanca, Volcano and Fiery-throated Hummingbirds. A loose flock of Mountain and Sooty Thrushes passed through, while Band-tailed Pigeons and Swallow-tailed Kites winged by overhead. Large-footed Finch, Slaty Flowerpiercer, Black-and-yellow Silky Flycatcher and Hairy Woodpecker rounded out some of the other bird species.

Fiery-throated Hummingbird - La Georgina Restaurant, Cartago, Costa Rica

Photographing a Fiery-throated Hummingbird - La Georgina Restaurant, Cartago, Costa Rica

Lunch here was cafeteria style and nothing special, but the price was right and included access to the well stocked hummingbird feeders. Feeling sated, we continued onward to even higher elevations. 

Road to the Cerro Buenavista communication towers, San José, Costa Rica

Laura and I had visited the Cerro Buenavista communication towers earlier in our trip. A gravel road meanders up the hillside towards these towers, providing access to the stunted forest found at this elevation. Some refer to this habitat as páramo, but it looks very different from the Espletia and Puya-bromeliad dominated páramo that we have explored in the Andes of South America. At over 3400 m in elevation, these radio towers are about as high in elevation that one can easily visit in Costa Rica. 

The sun had reappeared, helping to warm the landscape by counteracting the cool breeze. This was a neat environment for us to explore. And doubly so, considering that we had been in the steamy Pacific lowlands just a few hours earlier. We enjoyed watching Volcano Juncos foraging on the ground, and I even lucked out with a heard-only Peg-billed Finch. It would not respond to my playback, though. This was not surprising, given the time of day and the fact that these birds are lusted after by birders during most days of the year. This road to the radio towers is one of the most accessible locations to search for this scarce, range-restricted species. 

Road to the Cerro Buenavista communication towers, San José, Costa Rica

We left the high elevation shrubland behind and finished driving to our accommodations for two nights, a rustic mountain cabin located in the upper reaches of the Savegre Valley. The air was cool as afternoon turned to evening and we made good use of the space heaters and extra blankets that night. Despite the temperatures, I optimistically set up my moth sheet. The strong breeze did not help matters and I eventually gave up after an hour with absolutely no moth sightings. My owling attempts were equally unsuccessful. Bare-shanked Screech-Owl was one of my remaining targets birds from the Talamanca mountains and they are often reported from this area. Again, the strong winds did not help my cause and I eventually admitted defeat. A vocalizing Dusky Nightjar was the only night-bird of any consequence. 

I awoke by dawn and eagerly awaited the sun cresting over the mountains, along with the inevitable bird chorus. The birding was far better than the previous evening and I soon tallied Resplendent Quetzal (heard only), Barred Parakeet, Dark Pewee, Acorn Woodpecker, White-throated Mountain-Gem and a mixed flock of songbirds that contained Wilson's, Tennessee and Black-throated Green Warblers, Collared Redstart, Yellow-winged Vireo, Flame-coloured Tanager and more. Not a bad start to the day before the morning's coffee.

Wilson's Warbler - Dantica, Savegre Valley, San Jose, Costa Rica

Rufous-collared Sparrow - Dantica, Savegre Valley, San Jose, Costa Rica

Even better, a small group of Spotted Wood-Quails appeared at the edge of the property! Laura and I had briefly seen a pair dart off the road a few weeks earlier, and we had also heard this species once, but this encounter was far more satisfying. Luckily, all four of us managed excellent views of this attractive species before they disappeared down the hillside and into deep cover. 

Spotted Wood-Quail - Dantica, Savegre Valley, San José, Costa Rica

Too many of the wood-quails on my life list are heard only, and I have only photographed a handful of the other species. Any time that I can obtain photos of an elusive wood-quail species is a good day in my books.

Spotted Wood-Quail - Dantica, Savegre Valley, San José, Costa Rica

Our plan for the day was to drive down to the bottom of the valley and visit the Savegre Hotel and Spa. While the rooms here were a bit too expensive for our budget, the hotel owns an extensive swath of forest, complete with hiking trails that go on for miles. For a small fee, one can access these trails for the day. 

Hiking at the Savegre Hotel trails, San José, Costa Rica

My target list of Talamancan bird specialties was dwindling, but there were still a few that I could seek out here; Silvery-throated Jay, Streak-breasted Treehunter, Elegant Euphonia and Sulphur-winged Parakeet among them. Before we could reach the Savegre Hotel, I slammed on the brakes as a Northern Emerald-Toucanet appeared on the road. 

Northern Emerald-Toucanet - Savegre Valley, San José, Costa Rica

Toucanets may look beautiful, but they too will eat a tasty dead bird without thinking twice about it. This one was attempting to consume a baby thrush of some kind. 

Northern Emerald-Toucanet - Savegre Valley, San José, Costa Rica

Northern Emerald-Toucanet - Savegre Valley, San José, Costa Rica

For some reason everyone else got a kick out of me lying down on the road to photograph the bird. Those delicious low angles are worth it, I'm telling ya... 

Photographing a Northern Emerald-Toucanet - Savegre Valley, San José, Costa Rica

Our next stop was only a few minutes further down the mountain. This time, it was a conspicuous Golden-bellied Flycatcher that drew my attention. 

Golden-bellied Flycatcher - Savegre Valley, San José, Costa Rica

Eventually we reached the Savegre Hotel and found an employee in the lobby to settle up the trail fee ($10 USD per person). Not a bad deal for Costa Rica, where everything is about twice as expensive as it should be. 

Our Toyota Rav4 had no issues climbing the rough gravel road to where some of the trailheads originate. The air temperature had warmed slightly and it was a very pleasant morning with minimal wind and numerous birds. The mature oak forest here was just gorgeous. 

Savegre Hotel trails, San José, Costa Rica

The Savegre Valley is an excellent location to observe several thrush species. This Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush was the very first one we had seen (all previous encounters were heard-only). 

Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush - Savegre Hotel trails, San José, Costa Rica

The Collared Redstart is said to be a friendly little bird with little fear of humans. We had found this species on a few occasions with mixed flocks, but those views had been frustratingly fleeting. Our luck would turn scarcely ten minutes after we had started hiking. 

Collared Redstart - Savegre Hotel trails, San José, Costa Rica

Collared Redstart - Savegre Hotel trails, San José, Costa Rica

Collared Redstart - Savegre Hotel trails, San José, Costa Rica

Collared Redstart - Savegre Hotel trails, San José, Costa Rica

The birding remained active even as we approached the noon hour. Laura spotted a female Resplendent Quetzal (though it did not stick around for very long), I got on to my first Elegant Euphonia, we finally experienced excellent views of a Wrenthrush, and we noted many mixed flocks of birds. 

Flame-colored Tanager - Savegre Hotel trails, San José, Costa Rica

Savegre Hotel trails, San José, Costa Rica

As we rounded a bend, my mom exclaimed that she had found an impressive moth. What a beaut, indeed!

Godman's Silkmoth - Savegre Hotel trails, San José, Costa Rica

This behe-moth is known as the Godman's Silkmoth (Antheraea godmani). It is one of four species from this genus found in the Americas (including the familiar Polyphemus Moth), but the Godman's Silkmoth is the largest and rarest of them. It finds habitat in pristine montane forest in Central America, especially in areas with an abundance of oak as this is the food plant for the caterpillars. This species reaches a wingspan of nearly 20 centimetres. 

Godman's Silkmoth - Savegre Hotel trails, San José, Costa Rica

This one must have recently emerged, as its wings were very fresh.

Godman's Silkmoth - Savegre Hotel trails, San José, Costa Rica

We finished our hike and drove back down to the hotel at the urging of our rumbling bellies. Following this well-needed diversion, it was back to the birds! The gardens around the hotel included many flowering and fruiting species, and birds were common. I heard some squawking sounds that piqued my interest and followed the noises to an apple tree. My hunches were confirmed when I noticed several Sulphur-winged Parakeets tucking into the ripe apples. Awesome! 

Sulphur-winged Parakeet - Savegre Hotel trails, San José, Costa Rica

I called the others over to observe this special species. Sulphur-winged Parakeet is another Talamancan specialty, being found only in the mountains of Costa Rica and western Panama. They are not particularly rare, but for some reason we had not encountered any up to this point. Most of my parakeet sightings seem to consist of backlit, screeching silhouettes wheeling over the trees. This intimate experience was a welcome change.

Sulphur-winged Parakeet - Savegre Hotel trails, San José, Costa Rica

Sulphur-winged Parakeets - Savegre Hotel trails, San José, Costa Rica

That evening I tried once again for owls from our accommodations in Dantica. I even walked up the road for a while and played the tape periodically. Unfortunately, the screech-owls remained silent once again. That is birding for you.  

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Purplish Coppers in Parry Sound District

 

June 15 - Balsam Lake, City of Kawartha Lakes

June 16 - Innisfil Area, Simcoe County

June 17 - Bala Area, Muskoka District

June 18 - From Bala to Elk Lake, Timiskaming District

June 19 - Elk Lake to Fraserdale

June 20 - Boreal Butterflies and Woodpeckers of Fraserdale

June 21 - Smooth Rock Falls to Heart Birding, Matachewan Mothing

June 22 - Matachewan to Hilliardton Marsh

June 23 - Purplish Coppers in Parry Sound District


I set up my moth light and sheet at an observation platform overlooking one of the wetland cells at Hilliardton Marsh. Since this was my first year of regular mothing excursions, a lot of what I was attempting was trial and error. This evening I did not find very much at all, despite the warm temperatures and calm conditions. Perhaps the area was just too open, and maybe my moth light only pulls in species from a small radius. Moths found in the forests and scrubby areas surrounding the wetlands likely would not venture out into the open marsh. 

That being said, tens of thousands of insects visited the sheet, but over 99% of them were recently hatched leafhopper nymphs from the genus Macrosteles. It was quite the spectacle!


Leafhopper nymphs (Macrosteles sp.) - Hilliardton Marsh, Timiskaming District

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Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Smooth Rock Falls to Hearst Birding, Matachewan Mothing


June 15 - Balsam Lake, City of Kawartha Lakes

June 16 - Innisfil Area, Simcoe County

June 17 - Bala Area, Muskoka District

June 18 - From Bala to Elk Lake, Timiskaming District

June 19 - Elk Lake to Fraserdale

June 20 - Boreal Butterflies and Woodpeckers of Fraserdale

June 21 - Smooth Rock Falls to Heart Birding, Matachewan Mothing

June 22 - Matachewan to Hilliardton Marsh

June 23 - Purplish Coppers in Parry Sound District



I enjoyed a sleep in at the Moose Motel and spent some time catching up on emails, editing photos, and researching for the upcoming days. By late morning I left the motel and continued west. Today would mostly be a birding day along Highway 11, between Smooth Rock Falls and Hearst. 

Like many other birders, I keep more than a few lists. County-listing has become an interest of mine pretty much since I began birding, and Cochrane District is one of my "better" county lists. Over the years I have embarked on five rarity-filled expeditions to the coast of James Bay, several shorter autumn forays to Moosonee, and numerous trips during the spring and summer to complete breeding bird surveys for employers, so my Cochrane District list is one of the higher ones (behind Doug McRae and Alan Wormington, and possibly a few others). However, my Cochrane list still had several few holes that needed filling. Most of these are breeding species that reach the northern extent of their range in the southern part of the district - species like Bobolink, Virginia Rail, Black-billed Cuckoo and Pine Warbler. 


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Thursday, 21 January 2021

A Rare Gull Twitch, Short-eared Owls, and Sea-watching at Peggy's Cove

Part 1: A Rare Gull Twitch

Our quarantine ended on January 10, and I was itching to get out birding. A buzz had been permeating the Nova Scotia birding scene, something that only a very rare bird could induce. An unique gull patronizing a parking lot in New Glasgow exhibited all the features of an adult Taimyr Gull. This taxon of gull is currently treated as a subspecies of Lesser Black-backed Gull by most taxonomic authorities, but it is an extremely unusual bird to show up in North America. Any bird whose core breeding range includes the Taimyr Peninsula of Northern Russia should not be appearing in Nova Scotia! 

I should mention that large, white-headed gulls are a mess taxonomically. It is difficult to place individuals into nice neat boxes called "species" when there is introgression due to hybridization and clinal variation across many taxa. Additionally, many of these gulls breed in far northern latitudes where it is difficult to conduct research. Apparently, some birders collected fecal samples from the New Glasgow gull which may aid in determining its genetic makeup. I will not get into the nitty gritty details of how to identify a Taimyr Gull, but there are many excellent photos of it on eBird. Here is a checklist by Angela MacDonald, the finder of the bird, from January 4, 2021: https://ebird.org/canada/checklist/S78666339.

The gull was observed in the same Sobey's parking lot from January 4 through January 10. I showed up on January 11 and enjoyed the thrill of not seeing a Taimyr Gull in a parking lot! Even though I dipped on the rare gull, there were many other things to point my camera and binoculars at. 

Kumlien's Iceland Gull - New Glasgow, Pictou County, Nova Scotia

Kumlien's Iceland Gulls were present in low numbers; pictured above is a typical looking first-cycle bird. Ring-billed Gulls (below) rivalled Herring Gulls in abundance and I made sure to study them carefully in case a Mew Gull was lurking amongst their ranks. 

Ring-billed Gull - New Glasgow, Pictou County, Nova Scotia

Indeed, the long-staying Mew Gull was still present. I noticed it awaiting handouts from another birder in another quadrant of the parking lot. Luckily, it hung around long enough for a few photos, then it vanished, and I never saw it again during the rest of the afternoon.

Common Gull - New Glasgow, Pictou County, Nova Scotia

The Mew Gull appears to be from the subspecies canus which breeds throughout much of northern Europe. Indeed, it is called the Common Gull on their side of the Atlantic. Nova Scotia birders identify several Common Gulls each year.

Some of the present birders tried baiting the gulls, to great success. Dry cat food (kibble) was popular, but it did not hold a candle to McDonald's french fries! The salty, trans-fat goodness was too much for the gulls to resist and they came from far and wide. An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was among their ranks. Unfortunately, it was a typical one that we see in North America, and not the hoped for Taimyr Gull. 

Lesser Black-backed Gull - New Glasgow, Pictou County, Nova Scotia

It is rare (for me at least) to see a Lesser Black-backed Gull at such close range, and so I took the opportunity to improve my collection of flight shots of this species. 

Lesser Black-backed Gull - New Glasgow, Pictou County, Nova Scotia

Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls - New Glasgow, Pictou County, Nova Scotia

Lesser Black-backed Gull - New Glasgow, Pictou County, Nova Scotia

I considered driving around New Glasgow and checking other areas for gulls but decided against it. Other local birders had been scouring the town and coastline but so far the Taimyr Gull had only been observed at the parking lot. The last thing I wanted was for the gull to appear while I was somewhere else, and then vanish before I could return.

Eventually I had to admit defeat since the day was getting on. To break up the drive back to Mt. Uniacke, I stopped off near the town of Enfield. A Barnacle Goose had been regularly seen in this area with a large flock of Canada Geese. Like the Common Gull featured earlier in this post, the Barnacle Goose is another European species that rarely (but consistently) appears in northeastern North America. 

Luckily the Barnacle Goose was easy to locate, though it was quite distant in the field and my digiscoped photos are barely diagnostic. It was nice to run into Rick and Kim Brown again after seeing them earlier at the Taimyr Gull stakeout. Kim and Rick used to live in Windsor, Ontario but now reside in southern Nova Scotia and were taking the day to search for the Taimyr Gull, Barnacle Goose, and more. 

Barnacle Goose - Enfield area, Hants County, Nova Scotia

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Part 2: Short-eared Owls in Grand Pré

After seeing the Barnacle Goose, Kim and Rick had stopped off in Grand Pré during the late afternoon in search of the wintering Short-eared Owls. A message from Kim later that day with precise directions and talk of a half dozen owls was all the motivation I needed! The following day, Laura and Margaret joined me for a short trip down the 101 highway to Grand Pré to take in the Short-eared Owl show. 

Short-eared Owl - Grand Pré, Kings County, Nova Scotia

And what a viewing it was! The dreary overcast sky enticed the owls to begin hunting earlier in the afternoon, giving us lots of time to enjoy them before sunset. We estimated that there were at least nine individuals present, but that is a low estimate given how large of an area they were patrolling.  

Short-eared Owl - Grand Pré, Kings County, Nova Scotia

Bringing my scope to Nova Scotia was paying off handsomely, with incredible views of perched and hunting Short-eared Owls. They were never quite close enough for perfect photos, unfortunately, but the views could not be beat. In the photo below, the owl is using its disc-shaped face to pinpoint the sound of its prey. It waits until the last possible second, then swings its talons downward in the blink of an eye. 

Short-eared Owl - Grand Pré, Kings County, Nova Scotia

We witnessed aerial battles between individual owls, and between Short-eared Owls and Northern Harriers (a species which has similar hunting strategies). At one point we heard one of the Short-eared Owls "barking". 

I heard a fly-over Lapland Longspur, and we found a few flocks of Horned Larks and Savannah Sparrows. Ring-necked Pheasants called from a brushy hedgerow by a farm and Bald Eagles soared overhead as they traveled to their roosting locations for the night. It was a pretty magical afternoon.

Short-eared Owl - Grand Pré, Kings County, Nova Scotia

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Part 3: Sea-watching at Peggy's Cove and Barrow's Goldeneyes in Bedford

Earlier in the week I had arranged with Margaret to borrow her vehicle for a full day of birding along the coast. Though the weather forecast for January 14 was not great with possible rain or sleet, at least the winds would be light. I planned out a route the day before. That night, I slept well with dreams of rare birds filling my subconscious. 

My first stop shortly after dawn was a residential street in the town of Chester. My main target was a long-staying Yellow-throated Warbler, and I locked onto it within half an hour of my arrival. Unfortunately I have no photos, since I left my camera in the car to avoid standing out too much while patrolling a neighbourhood on foot. I heard a few Red Crossbills fly over, spotted some distant Evening Grosbeaks in the top of a tree, and added a number of year birds before I hit the road. 

For years, one of my nemesis birds had been the Dovekie. This tiny seabird is a member of the family Alcidae (the same as puffins), and they nest in vast colonies in Greenland, Svalbard, and several other high Arctic locations. The Dovekie may be one of the most numerous seabirds in the world but they are highly desirable here in North America, where they only appear in wintertime and mainly in the northeast. Despite having visited Nova Scotia in the winter on a dozen other occasions, my only Dovekie sighting was a distant individual flying past Hartlen Point near Dartmouth several years ago. I was determined to find one today.

After leaving Chester I stopped periodically, wherever there was a good vantage point along the coastline. Year birds appeared, but my main quarry remained unaccounted for. At least I enjoyed some excellent views of bird species that we rarely see in Ontario: Black Guillemot, Great Cormorant, and Common Eider among them.

Great Cormorants - Indian Harbour, Halifax R.M., Nova Scotia

Just west of Peggy's Cove, the distinctive calls of White-winged Crossbills filled the air. Close to twenty females comprised the flock. It had been a while since I had last seen this distinctive finch; luckily, they were quite accommodating, letting me fill my memory card from a moderate distance. I "pished" up several Yellow-rumped Warblers here as well. 

White-winged Crossbills - Indian Harbour, Halifax R.M., Nova Scotia

Eventually I stopped in at the scenic locale of Peggy's Cove. This beautiful little fishing village is situated along a picturesque stretch of the windswept Nova Scotian coastline, and it is a very popular tourist attraction. Due to the effects of the global pandemic, as well as the time of year, I had the entire place to myself! 

Peggy's Cove scenery, Halifax R.M., Nova Scotia (photo taken 2020-01-01)

Peggy's Cove is situated near a headland and the sea-watching can be very good if the conditions are correct. The onshore breeze had intensified - excellent! I grabbed my scope and settled in near the lighthouse. 

Almost immediately, I noticed a Black-legged Kittiwake flying past offshore, and then another. It was apparent that a small migration was occurring and I had my fingers crossed for a Dovekie. And then it happened - a tiny, football shaped seabird whizzed past at very close range. Dovekie!!

I was a little slow to the draw with my camera. However, not more than two minutes passed before I saw the next Dovekie. This time I was ready.

Dovekie - Peggy's Cove, Halifax R.M., Nova Scotia

Dovekie - Peggy's Cove, Halifax R.M., Nova Scotia

I repositioned myself to a better vantage point, in hopes that I could obtain a better angle on the Dovekies. Several more whipped by and it was clear that they were cutting the corner around the headland very close to shore. With a little bit of practice, I managed some slightly closer photos. 

Dovekie - Peggy's Cove, Halifax R.M., Nova Scotia

Dovekie - Peggy's Cove, Halifax R.M., Nova Scotia

Needless to say, I was pretty excited. I would have settled for one or two distant fly-bys, but instead was privy to this show. A Razorbill also passed through (though at a greater distance), and I watched more kittiwakes. Some flew close enough for photos. 

Black-legged Kittiwake - Peggy's Cove, Halifax R.M., Nova Scotia

The above kittiwake is an immature bird, as told by the striking black, white, and gray wing pattern and dark neck band. Most of the kittiwakes we see along the Great Lakes are immatures so I was more interested in photographing some of the adults, as pictured below. 

Black-legged Kittiwake - Peggy's Cove, Halifax R.M., Nova Scotia

Again, they were just a little too far for fantastic photos. I was regretting my decision to leave my tele-converter back in Ontario. 

Black-legged Kittiwake - Peggy's Cove, Halifax R.M., Nova Scotia

Peggy's Cove can be a reliable area to find Harlequin Ducks and Purple Sandpipers during the winter. I counted over 55 Harlequin Ducks in three large flocks, and could not resist snapping a few photos of these dapper birds. 

Harlequin Ducks - Peggy's Cove, Halifax R.M., Nova Scotia

One flock of Purple Sandpipers was working the kelp beds among the slippery rocks close to the water's edge. Eventually, the flock lifted off in unison and whipped past me at exactly the same time as a Dovekie. I managed to photograph the whole group together. This shows how tiny Dovekies really are, since Purple Sandpipers are not exactly large for a shorebird. 

Dovekie and Purple Sandpipers - Peggy's Cove, Halifax R.M., Nova Scotia

I left Peggy's Cove and checked a few more coastal areas throughout the afternoon. Chebucto Head is a fantastic sea-watching location just south of Halifax that has turned up many good birds over the years. There have been days with thousands of Dovekies observed from here. These events typically occur when the tiny seabirds are pushed inland by strong storm systems (nor' easters). 

The winds had really died down by the time I reached Chebucto and hardly a bird was in sight. I eventually spotted a few distant Dovekies, as well as a Thick-billed Murre. Two Northern Gannets were flying by at a great distance as well. One of the Dovekies sat on the water for a time, providing me with my first scope views of a resting individual.

My last stop of the day was the Bedford Basin. This is a somewhat regular location for overwintering Barrow's Goldeneyes and I was hoping to find one or two of them. While scanning, I noticed a tight flock of goldeneyes with males displaying to the females. Each member of the flock looked like a Barrow's, but they were so far down the coast that it was difficult to be certain. I drove over to the Bedford Yacht Club, and there they were. 

Barrow's Goldeneyes - Bedford, Halifax R.M., Nova Scotia

Indeed, each bird was a Barrow's! This was a treat for me; rarely do I see Barrow's Goldeneyes at the best of times, let alone fourteen of them at close range. It was neat to see the variation in the females, especially. 

Barrow's Goldeneyes - Bedford, Halifax R.M., Nova Scotia

Unlike the familiar Common Goldeneye, the Barrow's Goldeneye is uncommon in eastern North America. Small numbers breed in Labrador and Quebec. This population winters in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, around Nova Scotia and the Bay of Fundy, and down the eastern seaboard to Long Island, or thereabouts. We see a handful in Ontario each year, usually singles or a pairs among Common Goldeneye flocks. But they are a rarity not to be expected.  

Barrow's Goldeneyes - Bedford, Halifax R.M., Nova Scotia

Eventually, the entire flock flew out of the harbour and landed a bit further offshore, so I called it a day. When Laura and Margaret later heard about the experience and saw my photos, they wanted to check out the Barrow's as well. So two days later we returned and the group of fourteen was still present in the harbour. 

Barrow's Goldeneyes - Bedford, Halifax R.M., Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia offers fantastic birding opportunities throughout the year, and I cannot wait to return!