Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Year In Review - The Rarities

This post is a synopsis of the interesting birds that I saw in 2016 as well as a list of the lifers for the year.

We had our first confirmed provincial record of Kamchatka Gull that stayed in Meteghan during February and March. Spring of 2016 was notable due to the large number and variety of shorebirds, for example, I saw my first spring Stilt Sandpiper and American Golden Plover. I found my first singing Northern Waterthrush likely on territory in Yarmouth County. We confirmed another pocket of breeding Veerys for Yarmouth County at the Hebron Recreation Complex. The number of sites that I know of with Canada Warblers during breeding season in my end of the province continues to rise (I just wasn't paying enough attention before). Fall 2016 didn't see an influx of western birds like the previous year. My father photographed the provinces 2nd record of Calliope Hummingbird in my yard, a bird that I didn't get to see. I was witness to the unprecedented numbers of Cory's Shearwaters near the mainland during September and October. A photo that I had taken back in 2012 in my yard was identified this year as a Rock Wren representing only the 2nd record for the province.

Lifers that were long overdue were Green Heron, Black Tern and Pine Grosbeak (I still don't have Spruce Grouse!). My total lifers this year was 13, down from the 22 during 2015 (see 2015 review here). I ended the year seeing 260 species in Nova Scotia.

Here is the list of the 13 lifers for 2016. Self-found birds are annotated with an asterisk (*). The links associated with the items in the list bring you to the appropriate blog post or if I didn't blog about it - the eBird Checklist.

1. Green Heron
2. Curlew Sandpiper
3. Gray-cheeked Thrush
4. Common Gallinule
5. Sandwich Tern
6. Black Tern
7. Northern Rough-winged Swallow*
8. Yellow-billed Cuckoo
9. Cerulean Warbler (*, sort-of)
10. Least Bittern
11. South Polar Skua
12. Pine Grosbeak
13. Pink-footed Goose

Below are some of the memorable birds that I photographed during the year.

Mountain Bluebird, Cape Sable Island, Jan 1, 2016.
Snow Goose in Yarmouth, January 8, 2016.
Abnormally coloured Common Grackle, Tusket, Feb 5, 2016.
Red-shouldered Hawk, Pleasant Lake, February 7, 2016.
Abnormally coloured European Starling, Yarmouth,  Feb 7, 2016.
Snowy Owl, Cape Sable, March 28, 2016.
Wintering Cape May Warbler, Argyle, April 4, 2016.
Pine Warbler, Pubnico, April 16, 2016.
Summer Tanager, Woods Harbour, May 6, 2016.
Green Heron, Pubnico, May 6, 2016.
Stilt Sandpiper, Cape Sable Island, May 7, 2016.
One of two Curlew Sandpipers, Cape Sable Island, May 7, 2016.

Gray-cheeked Thrush, Chebogue, May 8, 2016.
Indigo Bunting, Cape Sable Island, May 15, 2016.
Orchard Oriole, Cape Sable Island, May 15, 2016.
Little Blue Heron, Pubnico, May 15, 2016.
Common Gallinule, Cape Sable Island, May 25, 2016.
Glossy Ibis, Cape Sable Island, May 25, 2016.
Willow Flycatcher, Yarmouth, June 6, 2016.
Red-necked Phalarope, Pubnico, May 17, 2016.
Sandwich Tern, Pubnico, July 13, 2016.
Black-billed Cuckoo, Pubnico, July 13, 2016.
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, West Green Harbour, July 13, 2016.
Ruff, Amherst, July 22, 2016.
Black Tern, Amherst, July 22, 2016.
Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Chebogue Pt, August 3, 2016.
Cory's Shearwater, German Bank, August 13, 2016.
Manx Shearwater, German Bank, August 13, 2016.
Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Cape Sable, August 27, 2016.
Cape May Warblers, Bon Portage Island, August 28, 2016.
Cerulean Warbler, Bon Portage Island, September 3, 2016.
Red Knot, Peases Island, September 4, 2016.
Philedelphia Vireo, John's Island, September 10, 2016.
Least Bittern, CSI, September 16, 2016.
South Polar Skua, Bay of Fundy, September 24, 2016.
American Golden Plover, Cape Sable, October 1, 2016.
Yellow-breasted Chat, Pubnico Pt, October 2, 2016.
Prairie Warbler, Pubnico Pt, October 2, 2016.
Cooper's Hawk, Pubnico Pt, October 31, 2016.
Clay-colored Sparrow, Pubnico Pt, November 2, 2016.
Red-bellied Woodpecker, Tusket, November 18, 2016.
Red-headed Woodpecker, West Pubnico, November 19, 2016.
Black-headed Gull, Meteghan, November 20, 2016.
Pink-footed Goose, Cape Jon, November 24, 2016.
Lark Sparrow, Canso, November 25, 2016.
Greater White-fronted Goose, Yarmouth, December 19, 2016.


  1. Very nice, Alix. The wintering Cape May that you photographed April 4, do you know if it stayed at the same location during the whole winter, and, assuming it made it through the last few cold weeks, do you know when it moved on? Birds choosing to--or by necessity having to--stay on for winter, are a curiosity for me, so I'd love to hear if you have these details. Thanks! Carmel

  2. Carmel, the homeowner had said that the Cape May had been there for months. I don't know when the bird was last seen.

  3. Alex, what a great year you had. I've only seen about half a dozen of those so far.