Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 Year In Review - The Rarities

I've been spending more time writing for our magazine Nova Scotia Birds, so between that, work and birding, I haven't had the opportunity to publish very many blog posts this year. If you aren't already a member of the Nova Scotia Bird Society, I encourage you to join and have a look at the magazine. There are 4 issues per year and it provides a summary of the season's birds in Nova Scotia.

I was able to add 71 new species to my World life list and 12 of those were additions to my Nova Scotia life list (now at 325). My NS life list was augmented by 36 species in 2014, 22 in 2015 and 13 during 2016, so another 12 this year isn't bad. My NS year list for 2017 ended up at 278, my highest yet - respectable for someone with a full-time job.

Birding highlights of the year were seeing two long-overdue breeding species in NS - Black-backed Woodpecker and Spruce Grouse; finding a large portion of the missing Roseate Terns from North Brother; surveying an island with an estimated ~6000 Leach's Storm-Petrel burrows; participating on a pelagic trip to an area 220 km south of Nova Scotia, east of Georges Bank with 25 Degree Celsius waters; finding a Swallow-tailed Kite, LeConte's Sparrow and Golden-winged Warbler; birding in a 'fallout' in late October; and seeing and audio recording Nova Scotia's first Tropical Kingbird.

When you're a birder, there is always something to look forward to. I'm particularly interested in what the Roseate Terns of Yarmouth County will decide to do. Will they abandon North Brother entirely? Will they make Gull Island their long-term home? I plan on surveying for Leach's Storm-Petrels on Pearl Island and possibly islands near Canso and on Cape Breton Island. I'd like to search for Black-crowned Night-Heron breeding evidence in the Mud Island chain, where I've seen them on multiple occasions. I want to make the trip to Seal Island in my boat (28 km from Dennis Pt Wharf), but I'd only go if there were at least another boat going just in case something goes wrong. The Duffy Rd marsh in Saulnierville looks like a great place for rails, so checking it this spring is a priority.

Below is the list of Nova Scotia life ticks during 2017, self-found birds are annotated with an asterisk (*):

1. Prothonotary Warbler
2. Franklin's Gull
3. Black-backed Woodpecker *
4. Swallow-tailed Kite *
5. Long-tailed Jaeger
6. Audubon's Shearwater
7. LeConte's Sparrow *
8. Tropical Kingbird
9. Yellow-throated Vireo
10. Golden-winged Warbler *
11. Cave Swallow
12. Spruce Grouse *

Here are some photos of the rarities that I was fortunate to see during 2017:

Red-shouldered Hawk at Pleasant Lake, 22 Jan 2017.
Greater White-fronted Goose in Yarmouth, 22 Jan 2017.
Pink-footed Goose in Yarmouth, 22 Jan 2017.
Thayer's Gull in Pubnico, 4 Feb 2017.
Eastern Bluebird in Chegoggin, 21 Feb 2017.
Kamchatka Gull in Meteghan, 1 Apr 2017.
Franklin's Gull in Wolfville, 14 Apr 2017. A fabulous find by Jake Walker.
Field Sparrow on CSI, 17 Apr 2017. Thanks Johnny Nickerson!
Prothonotary Warbler in Pubnico, 18 Apr 2017.
Gray-cheeked Thrush on Cape Sable, 7 May 2017.
Scarlet Tanager in Brighton, 8 May 2017. Thanks Joan Comeau!
Swallow-tailed Kite near Argyle Head, 11 May 2017. Click here for the blog post about this bird.
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher on Bon Portage, 13 May 2017.
Laughing Gull at Chebogue Pt, 17 June 2017.
Long-tailed Jaeger near Georges Bank, 5 Aug 2017.
Audubon's Shearwater near George's Bank, 5 Aug 2017.

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron in Pubnico, 26 Aug 2017.
Lark Sparrow at Chebogue Point, 15 Sep 2017.
LeConte's Sparrow on John's Island (on of the Tuskets), 10 Sep 2017.
Tropical Kingbird at Chebogue Pt, 24 Oct 2017.
Yellow-throated Vireo on Bon Portage, 28 Oct 2017.
Yellow-throated Warbler on Bon Portage, 28 Oct 2017.
Indigo Bunting on Bon Portage, 28 Oct 2017.
Yellow-billed Cuckoo on Bon Portage, 28 Oct 2017.
Hooded Warbler on Bon Portage, 28 Oct 2017.
Golden-winged Warbler at Chebogue Pt, 31 Oct 2017.
Cave Swallow at Chebogue Pt, 11 Nov 2017.


  1. Great photos as usual Alix. Happy New Year

    1. Thanks a lot Don. Enjoy the season.

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  2. Nice work this year Alix. Also, really love your peek-a-boo YCNH!

    1. Yes, that one turned out well even if it didn't work out as planned.

  3. That was a great year! Can't wait to see what 2018 will bring.

    1. Thanks. It was good fun. I hope that Kelp Gull in Halifax turns up again.

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