Welcome to Quoddy Link's Bird Blog! A place to report the many bird species sighted while aboard the Quoddy Link. Sightings are recorded by the skilled interpreters aboard the Quoddy link's whale watching catamaran that frequents the areas around Campobello Island, Deer Island and Grand Manan. For more information about our company, or to make a reservation on one of our trips please visit our main site at www.quoddylinkmarine.com. If you have any comments our questions, or would like to add your own sighting please respond by adding a comment in the comments section below each post or email nickjameshawkins@gmail.com. Thanks and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Start of the Season

I would like to start off this first post by explaining the format of the blog. I will begin each post with a quick summary of bird sightings consisting of a dated list of species. Species that are extremely common will often be omitted, species such as herring gull, black backed gull and ring billed gull. Species that are of interest and/or unusual or rare will appear in CAPITAL LETTERS. When possible I will try to include approximate counts for species of interest. As I am not always working, some days will be left out, or it might be that nothing of interest was observed for that day. Also, the weather dictates when and where we can go on the bay. Besides myself, there are a number of skilled naturalists aboard, including Todd Watts who will be helping with bird observations. After the list, I may go into more depth about specific sightings and/or the general status of bird activity in the observed area. I will also upload some photos and make some notes on bird identification in hopes of helping others (and myself!) with identification of pelagic seabirds.

June 23rd

June 25th
Common Murre
5+ Northern Gannets
Bonaparte's Gulls
Black Legged Kittiwakes
Black Guillemots
Common Loons

The LAUGHING GULL on the 23rd was sighted in head harbour passage, next to Casco island. It vocalized briefly and then flew over the boat in the direction of Eastport, Maine. This is my first laughing gull seen aboard the Quoddy, and in Canada in general, although I am quite familiar with them in Costa Rica.

The MANX SHEARWATER, POMARINE JAEGER and WILSON"S STORM PETRELS seen on the 25th were in the area Northeast of Grand Manan, close to the ferry track. I have only previously recorded one Manx Shearwater in the area. Manx shearwaters can be told apart from the similar greater shearwater by their smaller size, extensive white underside and entirely dark black brown back and wings.

Manx Shearwater

Puffins have been unusually abundant in the area. We rarely see puffins,  with most sightings occuring later in the season once they have left Machias Seal Island after breeding. Although a few were spotted in the western passage, near Deer Island, most were spotted out between the Wolves and Grand Manan. Most birds were singles or in small groups of 2-3 birds. If anyone has any ideas as to why so many puffins are in the area I would love to hear your thoughts. For anyone looking to spot some puffins, the Grand Manan ferry would be a good place to go, as this is the general area where most of the birds were spotted.

Atlantic Puffin

Breeding on White Horse Island is well underway, with the usual gull species, cormorants and guillemots. Black legged Kittiwakes appeared busy collecting nest material and many single birds are sitting on nests. With an incubation period between 23-32 days these birds are likely on eggs, as last year I noted newly hatched chicks on the 13th of July. A few Razorbill pairs have been hanging out very close to the island, and may be breeding although no evidence has been seen. The black guillemots mostly nest on the western side of the island, away from the gulls so maybe a few razorbills are nesting there as well.

Nesting black-legged Kittiwakes

This unusually colored female eider was also on Whitehorse, I havn't seen one with so much white on it's head before. Any ideas?

Atypical plumage in female Common Eider

A flock of about 45 young Bonaparte's gulls were seen offshore near Grand Manan. Bonaparte's gulls are a two year gull and these second year birds can be identified from the young black legged kittiwakes by their smaller size, dark trailing edge of the wing and the dark carpal bar (forearm) and lack of the black collar seen in young kittiwakes.

Flock of Bonaparte's Gulls

I haven't seen many eider broods, aside from this one that spends most of it's time around the wharf in St.Andrews. It started with about 8 young and is now down to 4. This morning I found a dead duckling near the wharf. The bald eagles often try to get the young, although I have not yet seen them be successful.

Brood of Common Eiders

That's it for now. We will start with our daily scheduled trips soon and I hope to keep this blog well updated with new sightings. Feel free to comment and or send me an e-mail at nickjameshawkins@gmail.com. Your comments and input are much appreciated.


  1. Will be following with interest. There is a puffincam, I check out periodically. It's at Sumburgh Head, Shetland Islands, Uk.

  2. Thank you, Nick--this should be a lot of fun as the summer proceeds.