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!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

July 23rd - 29th

First black guillemot chick of the year
Arctic terns
Common terns
Common eider with newly hatched chicks
MANX shearwater
Sooty shearwater
Great shearwater
Atlantic puffins
Common murres
Small number of Northern gannet
Bonaparte’s gull
Black legged kittiwakes w/ chick
Common loons
Small groups of peeps (sp?)

Seabird activity has been increasing on the bay as more herring moves in. Lots of feeding groups of shearwaters, alcids and gulls makes for excellent viewing as they surface feed on large schools of herring in the area around Blacks habour and Whitehorse island. Manx remains as the dominant species of shearwater, with more great shearwaters appearing and a few sooty shearwaters around as well. Northern gannets were fairly scarce with only a few individuals seen. Arctic terns have been abundant as they perch and feed around rafts of rockweed, with a few common terns mixed. 

Gulls feeding on herring
Great shearwater
Large groups of manx shearwater
Northern gannet

On the 23rd I had 2 PARASITIC JAEGERS harassing gulls off of Casco Island. One bird was a dark morph adult with the other appearing to be a juvenile. These birds were flying amongst large groups of gulls surface feeding on groups of brit (small herring).

On the evening trip of the 26th I had a group of 6 WHIMBRELS flying south past head harbor lighthouse on Campobello. This, along with numerous small groups of peeps seen well offshore indicates the start of early shorebird movement. If anyone has any tips at identifying peeps in flight I would love to hear them. I speculate that the majority of these are semipalmated sandpipers but can’t be sure. 

On the 26th I spotted a common eider female with two newly hatched chicks.

I had a PARASITIC JAEGER on the 26th, and another on the 28th, both birds were dark morph adults. I will try to get some pictures of jaegers for the next post but they tend to stay at quite a distance.

Whitehorse Island
Activity on the island continues as the young gull chicks begin to fledge. I saw many of them testing their wings and have seen a few young birds out on the water. More eagles have moved in to prey on young birds, with up to 8 being seen at one time. 

Herring gull chick
Herring gull adult

Juvenile bald eagle
Adult bald eagle
Black-legged kittiwake pair
Black-legged Kittiwake

On July 26th I saw my first black guillemot chick of the season swimming in the water around the island

On the 27th I photographed the young Kittiwake chick that I have been following. He had grown a lot since the previous photos (see previous post)…

Black-legged kittiwake with chick
Today, July 29th, through the fog, I could see that the chick and adult were nowhere to be found, and the small ledge that held the nest was now but barren rock. A gull or an eagle must have raided the nest with the young bird, still many days away from fledging. I must admit it was a bit disheartening. I had high hopes for this bird, as it was the only kittiwake chick that I could find in the many nests on Whitehorse.

Two days later
On a lighter note, one of my plans for this blog was to use photography to aid in identification challenges, both to hone my own skills and help others who are interested as well. One such challenge lies in differentiating between Arctic and Common terns. The other day I managed to get a couple images that contained the two species and thought it would be a good oppurtunity to look closely at the differences that help set them apart in the field. In this image you can see four terns perched on a floating piece of wood. Can you spot the differences?

Maybe a close-up of the previous image would help....

The bird on the left is an arctic tern, while the bird on the right is a common tern. Note the differences in bill color and shape, as well as the black tip on the common tern which is absent on the arctic tern. When perched, the head of an arctic tern appears much more rounded with a shorter neck then that of the common tern. The legs of an arctic tern are also shorter then those of a common tern.

Now lets look at the two species in flight...

Again, the bird on top is an arctic tern and the lower bird is a common tern. In this image the common tern is in the foreground and slightly out of focus, as the focus was locked onto the arctic tern, but the differences can still be seen. For birds in flight, I find that bill color and the amount of head projection (less in arctic terns) are the two most useful field marks in identifying the two species. The bill color of the arctic tern is a dark red while the common tern is more of a red-orange.  Also note the lesser amount of dark feathering along the undersides of the wingtips as well as the longer tail feathers of the arctic tern.

I hope that this comparison helped. I plan on doing  more such comparisons in the future so if you have any requests let me know! Things have been very exciting out on the bay and it's just going to get better in the weeks to come. Hope to see you on the water!

No comments:

Post a Comment