January 14 – LIFERS!

Well, the weather has been really uncooperative thus far on my east coast adventure. I woke up to more heavy fog blanketing the coast of Nova Scotia. WHEN WILL IT END!!!!!!!

Despite the conditions I decided to check out some of the local birding areas. We headed to Dartmouth (the city across the bridge from Halifax) and straight to Sullivan’s Pond, a small body of water in a city park. I was hoping to find the Common Gull reported earlier, but no luck. I had to settle for a lovely drake EURASIAN WIGEON (#104). Something spooked the ducks, but once they settled I noticed there were now 4 drake Eurasian Wigeons! This is my first North American “flock” of this stunner.  I also added American Black Duck, Mallard, Gadwall and American Wigeon to my Nova Scotia list.


Photo: One of the 4 drake Eurasian Wigeons in Dartmouth

We decided to check Halifax Harbour for some of the Dovekies which have been reported recently, but the fog prevented any good views. Close to shore were some small flocks of COMMON EIDER (# 105), another good looking bird!

Continuing along the shoreline we arrived at a small pond full of gulls and ducks. Here mixed in with the usual gull species were 2 BLACK-HEADED GULLS (# 106), a new Canadian species for me!

With several hours to  get to the ferry on Cape Breton Island we slowly worked our way north. One thing I have noticed is a complete lack of roadside birds. Unlike back home I haven’t seen ANY landbirds. In part it is due to the fact that we are usually on a major road, but seriously I have seen no sparrows or finches of any description. So, having a Black-capped Chickadee fly across the road was a highlight!

Waterbirds have been a completely different story. I have been having great success with them. After crossing the Canso Causeway to Cape Breton Island, we stopped at the Canso Canal to scope the water. And what a bonanza! With no wind and little fog the water was like glass. There were good numbers of both Red-breasted and Common Mergansers, lots of Iceland Gulls, Black-headed Gulls, and a few Common Goldeneye and Common Eiders.  There were also several new species for my provincial list, including Surf Scoter and Common Loon (#107). I also picked up a few LIFERS. I was pleased to see several GREAT CORMORANTS (#108), as well as an up close BLACK GUILLEMOT (#109) and a DOVEKIE (#110)! What a great way to end my day of birding.


Photo: Black Guillemot feeding nearshore off Canso Causeway

With daylight rapidly disappearing we continued to North Sydney where we are taking the overnight ferry to Newfoundland. I really hope the weather clears this evening so that we get good viewing conditions along the coast, and clear weather for snowboarding tomorrow. Ideally we will make it to St. John’s tomorrow evening, where I am eagerly anticipating my visit with the long-staying Pink-footed Goose!


About canadabigyear2013

I'm a lifelong birder and naturalist who is undertaking a Canada Big Year in 2013.
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2 Responses to January 14 – LIFERS!

  1. Alvan says:

    I see that you have Dovekie. Nice!

    Common Gull is reliable at Pier 17 in the St. John’s harbour – which is at the North West corner of the harbour:

  2. Congratulations on the lifers, Matt! When you’re in Alberta let me know and I can tell you about some great birding spots!


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