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!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

High numbers of Arctic terns

If your looking for a chance to see ARCTIC TERNS the time is now! We often see a lot of feeding activity when it is foggy and overcast because the zooplankton (krill, copepods etc...) tends to be closer to the surface. Yesterday we had ARCTIC TERNS feeding all around the boat. It's hard to make counts on our trips but I would estimate their numbers would be into the hundreds of individuals. The terns were joined by many BONAPARTE"S GULLS, these birds are still in breeding plumage so it is the best time to see them. It was a great opportunity to see and study arctic terns up close and out of all the birds I saw I only noted a handful of COMMON TERNS.

I have also recorded significant numbers of shorebirds that have been roosting and feeding on the floating rafts of rock weed and other debris left behind by the recent high tides. These groups appear to be mostly SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER and LEAST SANDPIPER but yesterday I observed two RUDDY TURNSTONES in breeding plumage.

On July 21st I saw and photographed a CASPIAN TERN west of South wolf island. This is the second caspian tern we have seen this year. See photo below.

On July 24th we had a juvenile PEREGRINE FALCON follow the boat briefly in the fog near Eastport.

Good numbers of alcids like RAZORBILL, COMMON MURRE and BLACK GUILLEMOT continue to be sighted on our recent trips along with the odd ATLANTIC PUFFIN and NORTHERN GANNET.

The Kittiwakes on Whitehorse continue to do very well and will soon be ready to leave the nest. The wet weather of recent days has kept my camera at home but I hope to get some pictures of the recent activity soon. Here's a few from awhile back...

Caspian Tern

Black-legged Kittiwakes
Blac-legged Kittiwakes with chicks on Whitehorse Island

Adult Bonaparte's Gull in breeding plumage
Bald eagle
Common tern
Razorbills flying with Bliss Island lighthouse in background
Spotted sandpiper

Saturday, July 20, 2013

July 12th - 20th

Our recent trips have been very active, recording the greatest number of species so far this year. RAZORBILLS have been abundant in the West Isles this summer and many father-chick pairs have been sighted.  Good numbers of COMMON MURRE and BLACK GUILLEMOT and the occasional ATLANTIC PUFFIN have also been spotted on recent trips.

A few GREAT and SOOTY SHEARWATER are around and I expect their numbers to build over the next few weeks. We have also started to see small groups of NORTHERN GANNET with the largest group of about 20 feeding near Whitehorse today.

Gull numbers have continued to build and larger groups have started feeding in the usual upwelling areas near Campobello and Deer Island. Today, the 20th of July marked the arrival of the first large groups of BONAPARTES GULLS, with around 300 being sighted in Head Harbour passage. It is amazing to see these striking birds in their breeding plumage after returning from their nesting efforts in the Taiga forest of Northern Canada. They will soon be arriving in even larger numbers to feed on the abundant zooplankton that is upwelled in the areas powerful tidal currents. We will hopefully begin to spot some rarities within these groups.

At least 2 different LAUGHING GULLS have been spotted in the area and have been seen on a regular basis.

The BLACK LEGGED KITTIWAKE chicks on Whitehorse Island have been doing very well and are growing fast.  I can’t remember a year that the colony has done so well in my five years on the Bay so I have taken many photos to share with you below. Many of the young HERRING GULL chicks have now fledged and many could be seen testing their wings on the light winds of the past few days.

There have been small numbers of peeps moving through the area, I was only able to ID two of the them as being LEAST SANDPIPERS.

Oh, and lots of BALD EAGLES!!!

Here's a bird list for July 12th to July 20th

Great Shearwater (5)
Sooty Sheartwater (1)
Leach’s storm petrel (1)
Razorbills (very abundant)
Common Murres (abundant)
Black Guillemot (very abundant)
Common Eider (very abundant)
Black-legged Kittiwake (nesting with chicks)
Herring gulls
Great black-backed gulls
Ring-billed Gulls
Bald eagles
Double-crested Cormorants

Dates for specific sightings of interest are listed below:

July 12th – An immature LAUGHING GULL was spotted and photographed sitting on the water in Head Harbour Passage. First BONAPARTES GULLS of the summer seen flying past Green’s Point

July 17th – First ATLANTIC PUFFIN of the summer also one sighted a few days prior by Todd. An adult LAUGHING GULL seen flying near Whitehorse Island

July 18th – Two LEAST SANDPIPERS flying near Whitehorse Island. Also a male SURF SCOTER seen near Head Harbour and then a male and female pair sighted in the same area a bit later

July 19th – A PEREGRINE FALCON sighted over St. Andrews. An adult LAUGHING GULL off Deer Island Point. A few GREAT SHEARWATER and one LEACH’S STORM PETREL off Campobello Lighthouse and a dark morph PARASITIC JAEGER in the same area.

July 20th – Approx. 300 BONAPARTES GULLS sighted in Head Harbour Passage as well as smaller groups seen roosting on rocks.'

Now for the pics, Kittiwakes up first :)

Black-legged kittiwake chicks on Whitehorse Island

Black-legged kittiwake chicks on Whitehorse Island

Black-legged kittiwake chicks on Whitehorse Island

Black-legged kittiwake chicks on Whitehorse Island

Black-legged kittiwake chicks on Whitehorse Island

Herring gull testing its wings for the first time

Take off!

Adult Laughing gull in the fog

Immature Laughing gull in Head Harbour passage

Bald eagle stretching its talon

Common Murres, can you spot the "bridled" murres?


Razorbill with chick. It is always the father that accompanies the chick to sea, cool!

Gulls feeding on bait ball of herring, before the fin whale.

Fun whale lunge! He actually took a couple birds down with him.

Bonaparte's Gulls

Great black-backed gulls and a Double-crested cormorant on Whitehorse Island

Great black-backed gull. Opening the mouth and "panting" is a way to stay cool

Surf Scoter

Dark morph Parasitic Jaeger

The pelagic bird watching trip has been set for Saturday, Sept. 28 departing at 9AM from the St. Andrews wharf. The trip is already half booked up so if you want to reserve a spot please call our office toll free at 1-877-688-2600 or local (506) 529-2600.

If you want to read about the whales be sure to visit Danielle's super awesome blog by clicking HERE

A big thank-you to everyone who has written to say how much they enjoy my photos. As much as I like watching and photographing birds I also have my own personal photography that you can see by visiting my website at www.njhawkins.com or on 500px by clicking HERE


Monday, July 8, 2013

A quick update

Everyday brings some new and interesting bird sightings out on the Quoddy Link, I thought i'd do a quick post to share some from the last few days...

July 7th - On the morning trip we had good looks at an adult POMARINE JAEGER that was chasing a couple of terns, I was so focused on the jaeger that I didn't get an ID on the two terns. The bird was sighted just north of Whitehorse island and was striking with a very long tail. No photos... guess I need to start having my camera at the ready...

Afterwards we visited Whitehorse island, it was high tide and I was able to see well into the kittiwake nests for the first time since the chicks hatched.  To my surprise I saw a number of nests with two chicks in them. Looks like they are having a good year and I will be following the young birds closely as they grow. See below for photos!

On the evening tour of July 7th I spotted a large tern flying past Green's Point lighthouse, at first we were fairly close to it and I was able to ID it as a CASPIAN TERN, a new species for the Quoddy Link! By the time I got my camera out the bird was fairly distant but I managed to get a couple photos you can see below.

Also of interest on the 7th was a PEREGRINE FALCON that was hunting over the town of St. Andrews. I watched the bird flush several pigeons which narrowly escaped the birds talons.

July 8th - A immature RED-TAILED HAWK was spotted soaring over Wilson's Beach, on Campobello Island.

Kittiwake with chick

Two nests with two kittiwake chicks in each

Kittiwakes with chicks

Caspian tern

Eider duck chick

Eider duck chicks with mother

Immature common loon

Immature Red-Tailed Hawk

Friday, July 5, 2013

Lots to report!

Bird activity on the Bay of Fundy is building fast with many first of year (FOY) sightings to report. Alcids like Razorbills, Murres and Guillemots remain numerous within the Fundy Isles. The first Kittiwake chicks have hatched on Whitehorse island, I really hope they survive the heavy predation from the larger gulls and do better then the previous year. The young eagles that were raised on a nest on White Island have appeared to have fledged, lots of adult eagles around the area as well and our trips have been getting some excellent looks! Groups of gulls have began to feed on the abundant krill and herring in Head Harbour passage, some of the more interesting gulls species should be showing up any time now. Shearwaters, gannets and petrels have also started to make an appearance!

 Here is the bird list for the past week:

FOY NORTHERN GANNET (a few sightings)
FOY ARCTIC TERN (one first summer bird)
Common Murre
Black Guillemot
Black-legged Kittiwake with hatched chicks
Herring gulls with chicks
Great black-backed gulls with chicks
Common Loon
Bald eagle
Spotted sandpiper

Details of sightings by day:

June 30th - a SOOTY SHEARWATER with spotted off Whitehorse island and also a LEACH'S STORM PETREL in Head Harbour passage

July 1st - A WILSON'S STORM PETREL sighted in Passamaquoddy Bay. Several hundred gulls feeding on krill in Head Harbour Passage

July 2nd - a immature POMARINE JAEGER just off Head Harbour lighthouse at the tip of Campobello Island. First NORTHERN GANNET of the year in adult plumage. Also an interesting sighting of 2 BLACK SCOTERS that were flying north over Head Harbour Passage. Small #'s of WILSON'S STORM PETRELS offshore near Grand Manan, along the ferry track

July 3rd - First BLACK LEGGED KITTIWAKE CHICKS of the year on Whitehorse Island. A single male SURF SCOTER in Head Harbour Passage

July 4th - First GREAT SHEARWATERS of the year sighted off Long Eddy Point, Grand Manan, small groups totaling around 100 birds also small #'s of WILSON'S STORM PETREL. First ARCTIC TERN of the year, a juvenile resting on flotsam off of Campobello island.

Now for some photos!

Bald Eagle!

Bald Eagle nest on White Island

Strange plumage in female Common Eider

Common Murre

Double-crested Cormorant, look at that eye!

Great Shearwater

Herring gull and chick on Whitehorse Island

Herring gull and three chicks on Whitehorse Island

Black-legged Kittiwake and chick on Whitehorse island

Black-legged Kittiwake in flight

Black-legged Kittiwakes on the water

Double-crested Cormorants on nests on Whitehorse Island

Black-legged Kittiwake defending nests from Herring gulls at Whitehorse Island

Kittiwakes in the sun! They open their mouths to help stay cool. Note the broken eggshell on the ledge!

First Nothern Gannet of the year!

Fist Sooty Shearwater of the year!
With all the recent arrivals to the Bay of Fundy I am really looking forward to what's to come! Also looking forward to the Pelagic Birding trip off of Grand Manan this weekend and hope to see some of you there