JUNE 29 - JULY 9, 2015

The itinerary for this MBWeek is a bit different every year, dictated by the schedules for the Mpls-Halifax flights and the Marine-Atlantic ferries, and this year it turned out that we had two fewer days than in 2014. But we still managed to come up with almost the same number of birds (120 species), and, while there may have been some disappointments on this shorter trip, they were not due to its length. The capelin were unusually late in running, resulting in hardly any whales, no passage of shearwaters or alcids near the headlands, and a belated hatch of seabird chicks. There were no early-fall shorebird arrivals, and there was that most uncooperative thrush which I'm still sure was heard one evening and then glimpsed as it dashed across its favorite clearing the next morning. I think, though, that adding another day or two to the tour would not have made much difference.

Overall, then, we found just about all the specialties which make this MBW so amazing, no matter how many days it lasts. Our two pelagic ferry crossings were mostly fog-free and provided views of lots of fulmars, Great and Sooty shearwaters, lesser numbers of both storm-petrels, three separate sightings of Manx Shearwaters, and a few of us were even able to see a skua (probably South Polar) and an unexpected Cory's Shearwater. The puffins, murres, and kittiwakes at Witless Bay were as spectacular as ever, a lone Thick-billed Murre and three N Fulmar pairs were seen by all along with several Razorbills at Gull Island, and the number of murres in flight and in the sea around Green Island was particularly overwhelming and unprecedented! And the perfect weather at Cape St Mary's enhanced the unforgettable views of those many thousands of nesting gannets and an equal number of murres and kittiwakes.

But there is even more to see on this special MBWeek every year. Rock Ptarmigan await those able to make the grueling hike to the top of Gros Morne and back – and one was still found even though the hike lasted about three hours longer than usual this time. And a Spruce Grouse was even found during this hike: a first for this MBW. The Black-headed Gulls at Stephenville Crossing were an expected highlight, but the two Little Gulls found just before they disappeared into the fog at St Shotts were another first for this MBW. A Rough-legged Hawk and Short-eared Owls were nice consolation prizes for the ptarmigan-less Cape Pine Road, our baby list included Common Eider and Piping Plover, Great Cormorants towered over Double-cresteds as Black Guillemots swam nearby, and there were nice Common and Arctic tern comparisons at Renews. Moose, Caribou, and Minkes highlighted the mammal list, and there was plenty of spectacular scenery punctuated by some intriguing road signs – advisories of trucks constantly crashing into walls, a depiction of a moose crunching into a car, and the slice-of-apple-pie crossing (my personal favorite).

Even the weather was mostly favorable, as there were relatively minor encounters with bird-obscuring fog. Our annual dead porcupine vs live RCMP contest kept us entertained on the longer drives, though it got complicated when we decided to add dead raccoons and Tim Horton's visits to the competition. (I forget who won.) And the logistics went smoothly, as our flights and even the chronically-late ferry crossings were essentially on-time for a change.


June 29 - Mid-afternoon arrival for all at YHZ/Halifax, and drive to Antigonish; Antigonish Landing WMA, dinner at Gabrieau's Bistro, and night at Oasis Motel.

June 30 - Return to Antigonish Landing, and drive to Pleasant Bay via Canso Causeway, Hwy 19, and Cape Breton Highlands Natl Park; dinner at Rusty Anchor, Bicknell's search at Money Point on Cape North, and night at Mountain View Motel.

July 1 - Return to Bicknell's area, and drive to North Sydney via Cabot's Landing Prov Park, Keltic Lodge, Cape Smokey, and Englishtown Ferry; 5:30pm Marine-Atlantic ferry to Argentia and night on the ferry.

July 2 - 10:30am arrival at Argentia, Argentia Visitors Centre, and drive to St John's; mostly fogged-in Signal Hill, dinner at Yellow Belly Brewery, and night at Super 8.

July 3 - Kenny's Pond (briefly), Cape Spear in the fog, O'Brien's boat trip to Witless Bay Ecological Reserve, and drive to Trepassey via Ferryland, Renews, Cappahayden, Chance Cove, and fogged-in Portugal Cove South/Cape Race Rd; dinner and night at Trepassey Motel.

July 4 - St Shotts and Cape Pine (mostly fogged-in), Holyrood Bay & Pond, St Mary's, Colinet, Branch, and much of afternoon at Cape St Mary's Ecological Reserve; drive to Clarenville, dinner at Jungle Jim's, and night at Restland Motel.

July 5 - Drive to Rocky Harbour/Gros Morne National Park via Terra Nova National Park, Gander Visitors Centre, and Grand Falls; dinner at Earl's/Jackie's, wharfside whale watch, and first of 2 nights at Bayside Motel & Cottages.

July 6 - All-day ptarmigan hike for some to Gros Morne Mountain; others to St Paul's, Cow Head, Shallow Bay, and Gros Morne Visitors Centre; dinner at Earl's/Sunset Grill.

July 7 - Return to St Paul's/Cow Head, Stephenville Crossing, Codroy Valley, Searston Beach, and Cape Ray; dinner and night at St Christopher's Hotel in Port aux Basques.

July 8 - 6:30am Marine-Atlantic ferry to North Sydney, arrival at 1:00pm, and afternoon return to Halifax; dinner and night at Quality Inn Airport.

July 9 - 7:00am departure for home from YHZ. 


- NS = found in Nova Scotia (June 29 - July 1; July 8)

- Nfld = found in Newfoundland (July 2 - 8)

- boldface = "non-Minnesota" species (i.e., absent, accidental, or casual in MN)

- (italics) = Newfoundland bird names

Canada Goose     NS,Nfld

American Wigeon     Nfld

American Black Duck     NS,Nfld

Green-winged Teal     NS

Ring-necked Duck     NS,Nfld

Common Eider (Gammy Bird)      Nfld (w/babies; best at Cow Head)

Surf Scoter     NS (Cheticamp)

White-winged Scoter     Nfld (Cow Head)

Black Scoter (Butternosed Diver)      NS (Cabot's Landing Prov Park)

Red-breasted Merganser (Sheldrake)      Nfld

Ring-necked Pheasant     NS

Spruce Grouse (Fool Hen)      Nfld (a first for this MBW, on Gros Morne hike)

Rock Ptarmigan (Rocker)      Nfld (it took almost 15 hours this year!)

Common Loon (Diver)     NS,Nfld 

Northern Fulmar (Noddy)      NS,Nfld (from both ferries; 3 pairs at Gull I)

Cory's Shearwater     Nfld (decent view from the Argentia ferry)

Great Shearwater (Hagdown or Baulk)      NS,Nfld (lots from both ferries)

Sooty Shearwater (Black Baulk)      NS,Nfld (several from both ferries)

Manx Shearwater     NS,Nfld (just a few from both ferries)

Wilson's Storm-Petrel     NS,Nfld (Port aux Basques ferry)

Leach's Storm-Petrel (Mother Cary's Chicken or Carychick)      NS,Nfld (mostly from

     Port aux Basques ferry)

Northern Gannet (Gaunt)      NS,Nfld (especially Cape St Mary's, of course!)

Double-crested Cormorant (Shag)      NS,Nfld

Great Cormorant     NS (Cape Breton Highlands)

Great Blue Heron     NS,Nfld

Osprey (Fish Hawk)      NS,Nfld

Bald Eagle (Grepe)      NS,Nfld

Northern Harrier     NS,Nfld

Sharp-shinned Hawk     NS

Red-tailed Hawk     NS

Rough-legged Hawk     Nfld (Cape Pine Rd)

Piping Plover     Nfld (pair w/baby at Searston Beach)

Killdeer     Nfld

Spotted Sandpiper     Nfld

Greater Yellowlegs (Twillick)      Nfld

Willet     NS,Nfld

Wilson's Snipe     NS

skua, sp. (Sea Hen)      Nfld (seen by a few from Argentia ferry; probably South Polar)

jaeger, sp.     NS,Nfld (only 1-2 probable Pomarines from each ferry)

Common Murre (Turr)      Nfld (unprecedented numbers at Green Island!)

Thick-billed Murre     Nfld (one at Gull Island and more at Cape St Mary's)

Razorbill (Tinker)      Nfld (Gull Island and Cape St Mary's)

Black Guillemot (Sea Pigeon)      NS,Nfld (closest views near Cheticamp)

Atlantic Puffin (Sea Parrot or Hatchet Face)      Nfld (still impressive at Witless Bay)

Black-legged Kittiwake (Ticklelace or Stone Mason)      NS,Nfld (w/babies)

Bonaparte's Gull     Nfld

Black-headed Gull     Nfld (again at Stephenville Crossing)

Little Gull     Nfld (2 staked-out sub-adults in the fog at St Shotts; another first for this


Ring-billed Gull     NS,Nfld

Herring Gull (Blue Gull)      NS,Nfld

Great Black-backed Gull (Saddleback)      NS,Nfld

Caspian Tern     Nfld

Common Tern (Stearn)      NS,Nfld

Arctic Tern     Nfld (best tern comparison at Renews)

Rock Pigeon     NS,Nfld

Mourning Dove     NS

Short-eared Owl     Nfld (at least 3 along Cape Pine Rd)

Belted Kingfisher     NS,Nfld

Downy Woodpecker     NS,Nfld

Hairy Woodpecker     Nfld

Northern Flicker     NS

Pileated Woodpecker     NS

Merlin     NS,Nfld

Eastern Wood-Pewee     NS

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher     Nfld (best at Chance Cove)

Alder Flycatcher     NS

Least Flycatcher     NS

Red-eyed Vireo     NS,Nfld

Grey Jay (Whiskeyjack)      Nfld

Blue Jay     NS,Nfld

American Crow     NS,Nfld

Common Raven     NS,Nfld

Horned Lark     Nfld

Tree Swallow     NS,Nfld

Bank Swallow     NS

Barn Swallow     NS

Black-capped Chickadee     NS,Nfld

Boreal Chickadee     Nfld

Red-breasted Nuthatch     NS

Ruby-crowned Kinglet     NS,Nfld

Veery     NS

Bicknell's Thrush     NS (well, sort of....allegedly!)

Swainson's Thrush     NS,Nfld

Hermit Thrush     Nfld

American Robin     NS,Nfld

European Starling     NS,Nfld

American Pipit     Nfld

Cedar Waxwing     NS,Nfld

 Ovenbird     NS

 Northern Waterthrush     Nfld

 Black-and-white Warbler     NS,Nfld

 Mourning Warbler     NS

 Common Yellowthroat     NS,Nfld

 American Redstart     NS,Nfld 

 Northern Parula     NS

 Magnolia Warbler     NS,Nfld

 Blackburnian Warbler     NS

 Yellow Warbler (Yellowhammer)      NS,Nfld

 Chestnut-sided Warbler     NS

 Blackpoll Warbler     NS,Nfld

 Yellow-rumped Warbler     NS,Nfld

 Black-throated Green Warbler     Nfld

 Wilson's Warbler     Nfld

Chipping Sparrow     NS,Nfld

Savannah Sparrow     NS,Nfld

Nelson's Sparrow     NS (Antigonish Landing WMA)

Fox Sparrow     NS,Nfld

Song Sparrow     NS,Nfld

Lincoln's Sparrow     NS,Nfld

Swamp Sparrow     Nfld

White-throated Sparrow     NS,Nfld

Dark-eyed Junco     NS,Nfld

Red-winged Blackbird     NS,Nfld

Common Grackle     NS,Nfld

Pine Grosbeak (Mope)      Nfld

Purple Finch     NS,Nfld

Pine Siskin     NS,Nfld

American Goldfinch     NS,Nfld

Evening Grosbeak     Nfld (spotted by Herb in Gander)

House Sparrow     NS,Nfld

Also seen:

Harbour Seal

dolphin, sp. (probably Atlantic White-sided)

Minke Whale (several at Rocky Harbour; one from O'Brien's boat)

Humpback Whale (only one distantly from Argentia ferry)

Meadow Vole

Eastern Chipmunk

Red Squirrel

Snowshoe Hare

River Otter (along Hwy 430 in St Paul's)

White-tailed Deer

Caribou (distantly near St Shott's Rd; family group along – and running on – Hwy 430 S of

Cow Head)

Moose (more than usual; one especially large and close on North Mountain!)

Green Frog

(Not seen: Gale Bird, Brooker, Bullbird, Tasker's Sulphureous Duck)

*          *          *


June 29 - July 11, 2014

As is typical on this MBWeek, logistical or birding difficulties caused by good ol' Marine Atlantic or the weather can be a problem, and this year was no exception. After the two-day delay (!) in 2012 and the six-hour delay last year, a revised Port aux Basques ferry schedule a month before this year's MBW forced us to shorten our time at Gros Morne. And the weather was less than ideal, with fog the main culprit on the Argentia ferry (pelagic birds mostly invisible), at Cape St Mary's (Thick-billed Murre nesting cliffs obscured), and during the Biscay Bay-Cape Pine-St Shotts morning. It was also too hot (31ºC or 88ºF!) on two of the days we tried to find woods birds, but at least the rains were nicely timed and mostly limited to one full day plus one morning of travel, and we missed getting caught in Hurricane Arthur.

Still, in the end we came up with almost everything we were looking for at sea and along the coast, with the spectacles of countless Northern Gannets, Common Murres, Atlantic Puffins, and Black-legged Kittiwakes at their nesting cliffs as overwhelming as ever. Memorable as well were more modest numbers of such quintessential specialties as Common Eider, Northern Fulmar, three shearwaters, two storm-petrels, Great Cormorant, Razorbill, Black Guillemot, Black-headed Gull, and Arctic Tern (Bernice's 600th lifer).

Of course, there are land birds of note here too, with two of them especially worthy of the efforts required to find them. And this year the typically elusive and notoriously shy Bicknell's Thrush up on Cape North proved almost too easy to see as it cooperatively posed for pictures and offered perhaps the longest views we've ever had! It took a lot more time and effort, of course, to come up with the Rock Ptarmigan up on Gros Morne, but Brett, Janice, and Lynn made it up there without Proper Adult Supervision (I had a cold) and found 3 adults followed by a female with 8 chicks! (And note that this was one day when the weather cooperated – the day before and the day after would have been too rainy for their ascent.)  


Other avian highlights included that Snowy Owl summering along the Cape Pine Rd (a first for this MBW and only the second one I can remember during 20+ VENT trips), a probable Little Blue Heron found by Brett & Janice near our hotel in Mt Pearl (it's obviously something special, being annotated as "XVSPSFw" on one Nfld checklist?!), and a skua (probably South Polar) seen from the Argentia ferry which I was unable to point out to others.

Our "baby list" was noteworthy since it included the likes of Common Eider, Ruffed Grouse, Rock Ptarmigan, Northern Gannet, Piping Plover, Willet, and Least Sandpiper chicks. Memorable mammalian sightings included Humpback Whales viewed at Holyrood Bay and Cape Spear, a close Fin Whale in Witless Bay (not seen on most trips), Caribou along Hwy 430 south of Cow Head, and a Moose family at Cape Breton Highlands. And there was lots of impressive scenery on the way, including icebergs out from Signal Hill and Cape Spear.

Finally, you might recall I mentioned the movie "Rare Birds" ( which was partly filmed at Cape Spear. And now there's a recent independent film set in Newfoundland that you may want to find on Netflix or wherever: "The Grand Seduction" (


June 29 – 7:00 pm arrival at Halifax airport, drive to Truro, dinner at Frank & Gino's, and night at Tidal Bore Inn.

June 30 – Drive to Pleasant Bay via Antigonish Landing WMA, Canso Causeway Visitors Centre, Hwy 19 / Cabot Trail, Cheticamp Island, dinner at Hometown Kitchen (Cheticamp), guillemot/cormorant waysides in Cape Breton Highlands, and Bog Trail stop for moose; first of 2 nights at Mountain View Motel.

July 1 – Cape North (for The Thrush!), Bay St Lawrence, Cabot's Landing Picnic Park, and White Point loop; dinner at Rusty Anchor.

July 2 – Bog Trail, Cape Breton Highlands Visitors Centre, Cheticamp grosbeak feeder, Cheticamp Back Road, Margaree Valley (@ 31ºC), and drive to North Sydney for 5:00 pm Marine Atlantic departure for Argentia, NL (mostly in fog).

July 3 – Fogged-in arrival in Argentia @ 10:45 am, afternoon at fogged-in Cape St Mary's Seabird Sanctuary, and drive to Trepassey via Holyrood Pond & Bay; dinner & night at Trepassey Motel.

July 4 – Fogged-in visits to Biscay Bay, Portugal Cove South, Cape Pine, St Shotts, and caribou-less barrens; return to Holyrood Pond/Bay and Portugal Cove South, west half of Cape Race Rd, Renews, and Ferryland; dinner at Press and Bean (St John's) and first of 2 nights at Hotel Mount Pearl.  

July 5 – Signal Hill, Cape Spear, Blackhead iceberg, Bidgood's Park in Goulds, and Witless Bay Seabird Sanctuary via Joe O'Brien's tour boat; dinner at Redrock Grill.

July 6 – 6:00 am departure for rainy 700-km drive to Rocky Harbour via brief stops at Terra Nova National Park; dinner at Sunset Grill and first of 2 nights at Bayside Motel.

July 7 – All-day hike to Gros Morne Mt (for The Ptarmigan!) by Brett, Janice & Lynn; others at Western Brook Pond, Cow Head & vicinity, and Gros Morne Visitors Centre; dinner at Ocean View. 

July 8 – Rainy drive to Stephenville Visitors Center/Port au Port, Stephenville airport/golf course road, Stephenville Crossing, Wetlands Interpretive Centre, Brooms Brook Rd, and Codroy Valley Prov Park; dinner & night at St Christopher Hotel.

July 9 – Cape Ray & vicinity, and 11:45 am Marine Atlantic departure from Port aux Basques to North Sydney; dinner at Fitzgerald's and night at Kelly's View Motel.

July 10 – Morrison Rd & Port Morien, and return to Truro via Nyanza inlet, Antigonish Landing, Pictou area, and Salt Springs Picnic Park (@ 31ºC); dinner at Frank & Gino's and night at Tidal Bore Inn.

July 11 – 4:00 am departure from Truro to Halifax airport for flights home. 


• NS = seen in Nova Scotia (June 30-July 2; July 9-10)

• NL = seen in Newfoundland (July 3 - 9)

• boldfaced species = "non-Minnesota" birds (i.e., absent, accidental, or casual in MN)

• y = young seen (i.e., babies – aw!)

• Newfoundland bird names in italics


 Canada Goose      NS, NL

 American Wigeon      NS, NL (y)

 American Black Duck      NS, NL (y)

 Mallard      NL (y)

 Green-winged Teal      NL

 Ring-necked Duck      NL

 Greater Scaup      NL (Port au Port)

 Common Eider (Gammy Bird)      NS, NL (y at Cow Head; also Cabot's Landing and

     Cape Ray) 

 Surf Scoter      NS (1 or 2 at White Rock)

 White-winged Scoter      NS, NL (best views at White Rock)

 Black Scoter (Butternosed Diver)      NL (imm male at Port au Port)

 Common Goldeneye      NS

 Red-breasted Merganser (Sheldrake)      NL (y)

 Ring-necked Pheasant      NS (pair of unknown provenance at Pictou)

 Ruffed Grouse      NS, NL (y)

 Rock Ptarmigan (Rocker)      NL (8y w/female + 3 other adults!) 

 Common Loon (Diver)      NS, NL

 Northern Fulmar (Noddy)      NS, NL (y) 

 Great Shearwater (Hagdown or Baulk)      NL (good looks from Port aux Basques

     ferry; another at Witless Bay) 

 Sooty Shearwater (Black Baulk)      NS, NL (several from Port aux Basques ferry; a

     few at Witless Bay)

 Manx Shearwater      NS, NL (brief looks from both ferries) 

 Wilson's Storm-Petrel      NL (identifiable looks from Port aux Basques ferry)

 Leach's Storm-Petrel (Mother Cary's Chicken or Carychick)      NL (ditto)

 Northern Gannet (Gaunt)      NS, NL (several sightings; overwhelming numbers

     again at Cape St Mary's) 

 Double-crested Cormorant (Shag)      NS, NL (on nests at Pictou) 

 Great Cormorant      NS (again at Pillar Rock & vicinity)

 American Bittern      NL (spotted by Bernice along the Irish Loop)

 Great Blue Heron      NS, NL

(Little Blue Heron? – probably seen by Brett & Janice; e-bird only lists 2 Nfld records

     in last 10 years)

 Osprey (Fish Hawk)      NS, NL (incl some on nests)

 Bald Eagle (Grepe)      NS, NL

 Northern Harrier      NL

 Buteo, sp.      NS (Broad-winged/Red-tailed at Truro)

 Black-bellied Plover      NL (Stephenville Crossing migrants)

 Semipalmated Plover      NL (ditto)

 Piping Plover      NL (adult + y at Stephenville Crossing!)

 Spotted Sandpiper      NS, NL

 Greater Yellowlegs (Twillick)      NS, NL

 Willet      NS, NL (y)

 Lesser Yellowlegs      NS (migrants at Port Morien)

 Hudsonian Godwit      NS (ditto)

 Least Sandpiper      NS, NL (incl adult + y on Western Brook Pond Tr)

 Short-billed Dowitcher      NS, NL (migrants)

 Wilson's Snipe      NL (heard-only)

 Red-necked Phalarope (Gale Bird)      NL (unexpected migrant at Stephenville


(skua, sp. (Sea Hen) – leader-only from the Argentia ferry; probably South Polar)

 Common Murre (Turr)      NL (especially at Cape St Marys & Witless Bay)

 Thick-billed Murre      NL (only 1 hard-to-see bird at Witless Bay this year)

 Razorbill (Tinker)      NL (good views again at Witless Bay) 

 Black Guillemot (Sea Pigeon)      NS, NL (best at Bay St Lawrence) 

 Atlantic Puffin (Sea Parrot or Hatchet Face)      NL (overwhelming numbers again at

     Witless Bay)

 Black-legged Kittiwake (Ticklelace or Stone Mason)      NL (especially at Cape St

   Mary's & Witless Bay)

 Bonaparte's Gull      NL (1 with the Black-headeds)

 Black-headed Gull      NL (nice views again at Stephenville Crossing)

 Ring-billed Gull      NS, NL (y)

 Herring Gull (Blue Gull)      NS, NL 

(Lesser Black-backed Gull? – or possible hybrid Herring x Great Black-backed at

     Rocky Harbour)

 Great Black-backed Gull (Saddleback)      NS, NL (y) 

 Common Tern (Stearn)      NS, NL (y)

 Arctic Tern      NS, NL (best views and comparisons at Holyrood Pond)

 Rock Pigeon      NS, NL

 Mourning Dove      NS, NL

 Snowy Owl      NL (summering at Cape Pine; first time ever on this MBW!)

 Ruby-throated Hummingbird      NS

 Belted Kingfisher      NS, NL

 Hairy Woodpecker      NS, NL

 Northern Flicker      NS, NL

 Pileated Woodpecker      NS (TCH fly-by)

 American Kestrel      NS

 Yellow-bellied Flycatcher      NL (Western Brook Pond Tr)

 Alder Flycatcher      NS, NL

 Least Flycatcher      NS

 Blue-headed Vireo      NS

 Red-eyed Vireo      NS

 Blue Jay      NS, NL

 American Crow      NS, NL

 Common Raven      NS, NL

 Horned Lark      NL (atop Gros Morne)

 Tree Swallow      NS, NL

 Bank Swallow      NS, NL (several coastal nesting holes)

 Barn Swallow      NS

 Black-capped Chickadee      NS, NL (y)

 Boreal Chickadee      NL (best at Bidgood's Park & Western Brook Pond Tr)

 Red-breasted Nuthatch      NS

 Golden-crowned Kinglet      NS

 Ruby-crowned Kinglet      NS, NL

 Bicknell's Thrush      NS (probably most cooperative bird ever!)

 Swainson's Thrush      NS, NL

 Hermit Thrush      NS, NL

 American Robin      NS, NL

 European Starling      NS, NL


 Cedar Waxwing      NS, NL

 Ovenbird      NS

 Northern Waterthrush      NS, NL

 Black-and-white Warbler      NS, NL

 Tennessee Warbler      NL (Western Brook Pond Tr)

 Nashville Warbler      NL (Wetlands Interpretive Centre)

 Mourning Warbler      NS, NL (best at Brooms Brook)

 Common Yellowthroat      NS, NL

 American Redstart      NS, NL

 Northern Parula      NS

 Magnolia Warbler      NS, NL

 Blackburnian Warbler      NS (best at Mountain View Motel)

 Yellow Warbler (Yellowhammer)      NS, NL 

 Blackpoll Warbler      NS, NL

 Yellow-rumped Warbler      NS, NL

 Black-throated Green Warbler      NS, NL

 Wilson's Warbler      NL

 Chipping Sparrow      NS

 Savannah Sparrow      NS, NL

 Nelson's Sparrow      NS (Antigonish Landing & Port Morien)

 Fox Sparrow      NS, NL

 Song Sparrow      NS, NL

 Lincoln's Sparrow      NS, NL

 Swamp Sparrow      NS, NL

 White-throated Sparrow      NS, NL

 Dark-eyed Junco      NS, NL

 Bobolink      NS (Margaree Valley)

 Red-winged Blackbird      NS

 Common Grackle      NS, NL


 Pine Grosbeak (Mope)      NS, NL (on the Bicknell's barrens)

 Purple Finch      NS, NL

 Pine Siskin      NS, NL (good to see after months of absence in MN!)

 American Goldfinch      NS, NL

 Evening Grosbeak      NS (best at the Cheticamp feeder)

 House Sparrow      NS, NL

Significant Others also seen:

Harbour Seal

dolphin, sp. (probably Atlantic White-sided)

Pilot Whale (briefly from the Port Aux Basques ferry)

Minke Whale (briefly from Cape Spear)

Humpback Whale (best at Holyrood Bay and Cape Spear)

Fin Whale (from O'Brien's boat)

small mammal, sp. (at the Bicknell's spot; probably Meadow Vole)

Eastern Chipmunk

Red Squirrel

Snowshoe Hare


Red Fox

White-tailed Deer (first evening only)

Caribou (along Hwy 430 south of Cow Head)

Moose (cow + 2 calves at the Bog Trail; also atop Gros Morne)

Green Frog

And some Insignificant Others:

- dead Porcupines (many in Nova Scotia, but no live ones)

- live RCMP (hardly any, except several July 6 along the TCH)

- enough oatmeal servings at Tim Horton's (hardly any!)

- my ferry to P.E.I. (missed again! – maybe next year I'll get there for my life list) 

(Not seen: Fool Hen, Brooker, Bullbird, Whiskeyjack....and, again, no Tasker's Sulphureous


*          *          *


Rock Ptarmigan chicks, Gros Morne, 2014 (Janice Culver photo)

Common Eiders, Cow Head, 2014

Northern Gannets, Cape St Mary's, 2013

Great Shearwater, Argentia ferry, 2003 (Dave Cahlander photo)

Northern Gannets, Cape St Mary's, 2015

Northern Fulmar, Witless Bay, 2009

Great Cormorant, Cape Breton Highlands, 2010

Thick-billed and Common murres, Witless Bay, 2015 (Scott Clark photo)

Razorbills, Cape St Mary’s, 2009

Black-legged Kittiwake, Cape St Mary’s, 2015

Atlantic Puffins, Witless Bay, 2003 (Dave Cahlander photo)

Black Guillemot, Bay St. Lawrence, 2014

Black-headed Gull, Stephenville Crossing, 2013

Arctic Tern, Holyrood Pond, 2014

Bicknell's Thrush, Cape North, 2014

Nelson's Sparrow, Antigonish Landing, 2017 (Roy Zimmerman photo)

Humpback Whale, Holyrood Bay, 2017 (Roy Zimmerman photo)

Caribou, near St Shotts, 2003 (Dave Cahlander photo)

View of Gros Morne Mountain from Rocky Harbour, 2013

Rock Ptarmigan, Gros Morne, 2013

The summaries of the 2015 and 2014 MBWeeks follow the 2017 summary;

also see the PHOTO GALLERY from these MBWs

and previous trips following the summaries.

*          *          *


JULY  1 - 14,  2017

The success of this MBWeek always seems to depend on the nature of things more than anything else. Specifically, how much fog (plus rain and wind, to some degree) will obscure our chances of seeing anything, and will there be any capelin around to attract and feed the seabirds and whales? Both of these variables are beyond our control, of course, and the conditions this year were mixed.

Yes, the overwhelming spectacles of alcids (especially puffins and murres), kittiwakes, and gannets by the thousands at the Witless Bay and Cape St. Mary's seabird colonies were as amazing as always, and we had no trouble getting close-to-shore views of Humpbacks at Witless Bay, Cape Pine, and Holyrood Bay. But there were no "rolls" of spawning capelin to be found anywhere, so that there were few alcids and virtually no shearwaters visible from the headlands. And the ferry crossing from Port Aux Basques had relatively few shearwaters to offer (except for four very close and cooperative Manx crossing the bow!), and storm-petrels were close to non-existent.

At least the weather on that pelagic crossing was fog-free, unlike the evening part of the Argentia crossing earlier in the trip; in the morning, at least, there were Northern Fulmars, Sooty and Great shearwaters to see. The weather and visibility were also favorable at Witless Bay and Cape St. Mary's (the Cape is especially susceptible to fog). But rain was not a problem most days, though it did cause some delays in our arrivals in Halifax on July 1 (or on July 2, in Larry and Yoli's case), and it kept raining into the 2nd as we drove to North Sydney.

Of course the worst weather had to occur on the day for the optional Gros Morne Mountain ascent. Indeed, it could have hardly been worse for the three hikers who were plagued by a combination of dense fog, persistent rain, high winds, and cold temperatures. Still, they did survive and managed to find a Rock Ptarmigan or two (the details on exactly how many are foggy) – even without Proper Adult Supervision! Cory and Cheri made it back to civilization in a reasonable time of about 12 hours, while Roy emerged back at the trailhead after 14+ hours – just another half hour later and he would have broken the MBW record.            

Cryptic Rockers, five alcid species (countless Common Murres with some Thick-billed among them, more modest numbers of Razorbills and Black Guillemots, and the largest Atlantic Puffin colony in the continent at Witless Bay), equally numerous Black-legged Kittiwakes, Northern Fulmars and three shearwater species, and the continent's second-largest (a mere 12,000 pairs) Northern Gannet colony at Cape St. Mary's – even in addition to all that, there were still many other highlights of this MBWeek...

The Tufted Duck in St. John's was practically a life bird for me (I vagely remember getting a poor look at one on Lake Michigan about 50 years ago), and it represented a new species (#709) on the all-time MBW list. Other waterfowl of note included Common Eiders at three locations plus out-of-season Long-tailed Ducks and Red-throated Loons at Trepassey. The responsive male Willow Ptarmigan along the Cape Pine road was an especially gratifying group effort (Brookers also seen on the way down from Gros Morne), and the Spruce Grouse on the Money Point road (also seen on the way up to Gros Morne) was some consolation for the now-chronic scarcity of Bicknell's here.

En route to Port Aux Basques we found adult Black-headed Gulls along with a fledged juvenile, a lifer plumage for me, at Stephenville Crossing (another adult flew by us in St. John's), plus Piping Plovers on the Codroy Valley Provincial Park beach. Great Cormorant, a life bird for many, was scoped out at four locations, and a very responsive Nelson's Sparrow (about the only passerine of special interest to Minneota birders on this MBW, now that Bicknell's Thrush is practically extirpated) was at Antigonish. Add to all that one Moose (finally!) at Cape Breton Highlands, Caribou along the road west of Trepassey, multiple Humpback and Minke whales, and my lifer Canadian province (I've now been to all ten).


July 1: Arrival at YHZ (well, most of us made it before midnight); dinner & night at Airport Quality Inn.

July 2: Drive to North Sydney via Antigonish WMA & Baddeck River, and 5:30 pm Marine Atlantic ferry to Argentia; dinner & night on ferry.

July 3: Argentia arrival at 10:00 am, Argentia Visitors Centre, drive to Bowring Park, Mundy Pond, Kenny's Pond, Quidi Vidi Lake, and Signal Hill in St John's; dinner downtown St John's & night at Airport Comfort Inn.

July 4: Kenny's Pond, Quidi Vidi L, Cape Spear, Bidgood Park, Witless Bay Seabird Sanctuary (with Joe O'Brien), and drive to Trepassey via Witless Bay Lower Pond, Ferryland, Renews, and Biscay Bay; dinner & first of 2 nights at Edge of the Avalon Inn.

July 5: Cape Pine, Trepassey Harbour, Biscay Bay, Portugal Cove South / Cape Race, and St Shotts; dinner at Edge of the Avalon.

July 6: Holyrood Bay & Pond, Point LaHaye, Branch, Cape St Mary's Seabird Sanctuary, and drive to Clarenville; dinner & night at Clarenville Inn.

July 7: Drive to Gros Morne National Park via Terra Nova Visitors Centre, Traytown, and Joey's Lookoff; dinner at Earl's and first of 2 nights at Bayside Cottages in Rocky Harbour.

July 8: Rainy-windy-cold-foggy Gros Morne Mountain Death-Defying March for some, and rainy drive to Cow Head for others; dinner at Earl's / Sunset Grill.

July 9: Stephenville Crossing, Barachois Park, Wetlands Visitors Centre, Brooms Brook Road, and Codroy Valley Provincial Park; dinner & night at St Christopher's Hotel in Port Aux Basques.

July 10: Codroy Valley Prov Park, and 11:45 am - 6:00 pm Marine Atlantic ferry to North Sydney; dinner at Cedar House and night at Kelly's View Motel.

July 11: Baddeck River, Lake O'Law Park, Margaree Valley, Cabot Trail lookoffs S of Cheticamp, Cape Breton Highlands Visitors Centre, Buttereau trailhead, Pillar Rock, Skyline Trail, and Bog Trail; dinner at Rusty Anchor, post-dinner return to Bog & Skyline trails, and night at Mountain View Motel in Pleasant Bay.

July 12: Breakfast in cottage 21; alleged Bicknell's road to Money Point, Bog Trail, Cheticamp Back Rd, and drive to Truro; return to YHZ Quality Inn for those 4 returning home July 13, and first of 2 nights at Tidal Bore Inn in Truro for the other 6.

July 13: Prince Edward Island option: Amherst backwaters (NS), Cape Jourimain & vicinity (NB), Borden & vicinity (PEI), and return to Truro via TCH and Hwy 321; dinner at Frank & Gino's.

July 14: Return to YHZ for flights home.

Bird List (127 species, incl. 7 only on PEI  trip)

• NS = seen in Nova Scotia (July 2, July 10-13)

• NL = seen in Newfoundland (July 3-10)

• F/ARG = seen on North Sydney-Argentia ferry (July 2-3)

• F/PAB = seen on Port Aux Basques-North Sydney ferry (July 10)

boldface = "non-Minnesota" species (i.e., absent, Accidental, or Casual in MN)

italics = Newfoundland bird names

Canada Goose      NS, NL

Wood Duck      NL

American Wigeon      NS, NL

American Black Duck      NS, NL

(Mallard - non-countable domestics, hybrids, etc)

Northern Shoveler       NL

Northern Pintail      NL

Green-winged Teal      New Brunswick & PEI only (on PEI trip)

Ring-necked Duck      NS, NL

Tufted Duck      NL

Greater Scaup      NL

Common Eider (Gammy Bird)      NL (plus a female in PEI)

White-winged Scoter      NL

Long-tailed Duck      NL

Common Goldeneye      NS

Common Merganser      NS

Red-breasted Merganser (Sheldrake) 

Ring-necked Pheasant      NS (on PEI trip)

Ruffed Grouse      NL

Spruce Grouse (Fool Hen)      NS, NL

Willow Ptarmigan (Brooker)      NL

Rock Ptarmigan (Rocker)      NL

Rock Pigeon      NS (also on F/PAB!), NL

Mourning Dove      NS

Ruby-throated Hummingbird      NS

Piping Plover      NL

Killdeer      New Brunswick only (on PEI trip)

Spotted Sandpiper      NL

Greater Yellowlegs (Twillick)      NL

Willet      NL

Lesser Yellowlegs      New Brunswick only (on PEI trip)

Whimbrel      NL

Least Sandpiper      New Brunswick only (on PEI trip)

Short-billed Dowitcher      NL (plus better views in New Brunswick on PEI trip)

Wilson's Snipe      NL

jaeger, sp.      NL (seen by Cory on F/ARG; probable Pomarine)

Common Murre (Turr)      NS (F/PAB), NL 

Thick-billed Murre      NL

Razorbill (Tinker)      NS (F/PAB), NL

Black Guillemot (Sea Pigeon)      NS, NL (also in New Brunswick on PEI trip)

Atlantic Puffin (Sea Parrot or Hatchet Face)      NL 

Black-legged Kittiwake (Ticklelace or Stone Mason)      NS, NL

Black-headed Gull      NL

Ring-billed Gull      NL

Herring Gull (Blue Gull)      NS, NL

Great Black-backed Gull (Saddleback)      NS, NL

Caspian Tern      NL

Common Tern (Stearn)      NS, NL

Arctic Tern      NL

Red-throated Loon      NL

Common Loon (Diver)      NS, NL

Northern Fulmar (Noddy)      NL (F/ARG, Witless Bay, F/PAB)

Sooty Shearwater (Black Baulk)      NS (F/PAB), NL (F/ARG, F/PAB)

Great Shearwater (Hagdown or Baulk)      NS (S of Cheticamp), NL (F/ARG)

Manx Shearwater      NS (F/PAB)

Wilson's Storm-Petrel      NS (F/PAB; also unidentifieds on both NL & NS sides)

Leach's Storm-Petrel (Mother Cary's Chicken or Carychick)      NL (F/PAB)

Northern Gannet (Gaunt)      NS, NL

Double-crested Cormorant (Shag)      NS, NL 

Great Cormorant      NS, NL

Great Blue Heron      NS, NL

Osprey (Fish Hawk)      NS, NL

Bald Eagle (Grepe)      NS, NL 

Northern Harrier      NL

Red-tailed Hawk      NS

Belted Kingfisher      NS, NL

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker      NS

Downy Woodpecker      NS, NL

Hairy Woodpecker      NL

Northern Flicker      NS, NL

American Kestrel      NS

Merlin      NS

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher      NL (leader-only/heard-only)

Alder Flycatcher      NS, NL

Least Flycatcher      NS

Eastern Kingbird      New Brunswick only (seen by Joan on PEI trip)

Blue-headed Vireo      NS, NL

Red-eyed Vireo      NS, NL

Grey Jay (Whiskeyjack)      NL

Blue Jay      NS, NL

American Crow      NS, NL

Common Raven      NS, NL

Horned Lark      NL

Tree Swallow      NS, NL

Bank Swallow      NS, NL

Barn Swallow      NS (only on PEI trip)

Black-capped Chickadee      NS, NL

Boreal Chickadee      NS, NL

Winter Wren      NL (heard-only)

Golden-crowned Kinglet      NS

Ruby-crowned Kinglet      NS, NL

Swainson's Thrush      NS, NL

Hermit Thrush      NS, NL

American Robin      NS, NL (also on F/ARG!)

European Starling      NS, NL

Cedar Waxwing      NS, NL

House Sparrow      NS, NL

American Pipit      NL

Pine Grosbeak (Mope)      NL

Purple Finch      NS, NL

American Goldfinch      NS, NL

 Ovenbird      NS

 Northern Waterthrush      NS, NL

 Black-and-white Warbler      NS, NL

 Mourning Warbler      NS, NL

 Common Yellowthroat      NS, NL

 American Redstart      NS, NL

 Northern Parula      NS

 Magnolia Warbler      NS, NL

Bay-breasted Warbler      NS

 Blackburnian Warbler      NS

 Yellow Warbler (Yellowhammer)      NS, NL 

 Blackpoll Warbler      NL

 Yellow-rumped Warbler      NS, NL

 Black-throated Green Warbler      NS, NL

 Wilson's Warbler      NL

Chipping Sparrow      NS

Savannah Sparrow      NS, NL

Nelson's Sparrow      NS (also in New Brunswick on PEI trip)

Fox Sparrow      NS, NL

Song Sparrow      NS, NL

Lincoln's Sparrow      NS, NL

Swamp Sparrow      NS, NL

White-throated Sparrow      NS, NL

Dark-eyed Junco      NS, NL

Bobolink      NS

Red-winged Blackbird      NS, NL

Common Grackle      NS, NL

Also Seen:

Moose (finally in that lake on French Mt)

Caribou (3 sites along Hwy 10 W of Trepassey)

White-tailed Deer

River Otter


Snowshoe Hare

Red Squirrel

Eastern Chipmunk

Humpback Whale (best at Witless Bay, Cape Pine, and Holyrood Bay)

Minke Whale (incl 1 dead at Biscay Bay)

White-sided Dolphin (F/PAB)

Harbour Seal

Grey Seal (F/PAB)

(Not Seen: Butternosed Diver, Gale Bird, Sea Hen, Bullbird, Great Auk, Labrador Duck, Tasker's Sulphureous Duck)

*          *          *

Talus trail up Gros Morne Mt., 2017 (Cheri Steinmueller photo)

And now, a word from our sponsor... (Roy Zimmerman photo)

Iceberg, Renews, 2017 (Roy Zimmerman photo)

Minke Whale, Witless Bay, 2017 (Roy Zimmerman photo)

Spruce Grouse, Money Point road, 2017

Tufted Duck, St. John's, 2017 (Larry Sirvio photo)

Common Murres, Gull Island, 2017