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!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Aug. 23rd - 27th

RED-THROATED LOON first of season
Semipalmated sandpipers
Double crested cormorant
Great cormorant
Sooty shearwater
Great shearwater
Common murre
Black guillemot
Northern Gannet
Common eider
Great blue heron
Bald eagle
Arctic tern
Bonaparte’s gull
Black legged kittiwake
Belted kingfisher 

Bird activity on the bay has been excellent this past week. Aug 23rd and 24th saw some incredible feeding groups of shearwaters, alcids and gulls just off Black's harbour with numerous gannets joining in as fin whales lunged through schools of herring at the surface.

Shearwater group, can you spot all three species? Phalaropes in foreground.
Northern gannet
Lunging fin whale and shearwaters. Herring jumping to escape a hungry fin whale that is lunging just feet below the surface
Sooty shearwater
Great shearwater
Lunging fin whale with shearwaters, photo is of the underside of whales tail
Manx shearwater (left) Sooty shearwater (right)
Great shearwater
POMARINE and PARASITIC JAEGERS were commonly seen amongst these groups, showing a significant increase in numbers. Groups of up to five jaegers were often seen at a time and pomarine jaegers have now come to out number the smaller parasitics. Having both species in close quarters too each other made from some excellent opportunities for comparisons. A special thanks to Chris Bartlett who sent me an excellent article about plumage and molt patterns in jaeger species. For those interested in the article it can be viewed by clicking HERE.
Pomarine jaeger, note double white wing flash on underside of wing
Pomarine jaeger
Jaegers. Parasitic on top, Pomarine on bottom
RED-NECKED PHALAROPES have really grown in numbers. I estimated one group, observed feeding off of Hospital island, at around 200 individuals.
Large group of Red-necked phalaropes
Many groups of migrant shorebirds have been seen. These are usually small groups of peeps that are difficult to identify to species. On Aug. 23rd I had a WHIMBREL that vocalized non-stop as it flew high over our boat. On the 27th I spotted a RUDDY TURNSTONE among a group of seals on Black Rock, near Campobello.

Aug. 25th saw my first RED-THROATED LOON of the fall season.
Red-throated loon
With the end of the summer comes the start of hawk migration, and that means that Todd Watts will be beginning his observations atop Greenlaw mountain. Be sure to contact Todd if your interested in learning more about hawks and witnessing this incredible phenomenon first hand! I have started to see the beginning of early raptor migration in the skies above Macmaster and Pendleton island. These islands serve as a corridor for birds to move across Passamaquoddy bay and I will be watching the skies closely in the limited time that we move through the area each day. 

On Aug. 23rd we observed a RED-TAILED HAWK that landed and remained perched on Pendleton island. The bird was very tolerant of our close approach.

Red-tailed Hawk on Pendleton island
Aug. 24th saw significant activity over Mac's island with a high flying OSPREY, a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK and a NORTHERN HARRIER. 
Northern Harrier in the skies over Mac's island
A second NORTHERN HARRIER was seen perched atop a weir pole on spectacle island on the 25th.

Northern Harrier atop weir pole on spectacle island
Also on the 25th, two MERLINS were seen flying low over the treetops on Mac's island

COMMON NIGHTHAWKS have also been seen moving over Passamaquoddy bay. A group of 6 were seen on the 24th, 3 on the 26th and a single bird over Mac's island on the 27th.

Well that's it for now. I am off to PEI to spend some time with family, and lots of birding of course! I did manage to get some new underwater footage of a very curious Minke whale. This whale spent around 20 minutes checking out our boat and it was a real thrill having him come up next to us while I used the underwater camera. To check out the video click HERE


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