Wednesday, July 30, 2008

East Coast Trip June 2008: Terns a plenty!

Our next destination was Lower West Pubnico. The Pubnicos, is a chain of towns ranging from Lower East, the town of actual Pubinco, and lastly running down a peninsula to Lower West Pubnico. Here we took a road that led us to the ocean that looked out over to The Brothers islands. It is on these islands where a large tern colony thrives. Common, Arctic, and even a few Roseate Terns nest here. The island is an IBA in Canada, and each year since since 1983, Ted D'eon of West Pubnico has been monitoring Roseate Terns on the islands. Here is a link about this devoted man
We were a week ahead of a scheduled tour to the actual two islands that have the tern colony, so instead I had to set up my scope and scan from a 1 km away at the shoreline. This proved to be rough. Both Arctic, Roseate and Common Terns were hard to ID from this distance. I don't think any birder I know could've done it while they were in flight. Once in a while a tern would come up to the shoreline, but it always proved to be a Common Tern, not the two species I sought after.
Adult Common Tern. photo by Marianne Balkwill

Aaron meanwhile was discovering the richness of the seashore. He found oysters, crabs, snails and a local who was harvesting oysters while enjoying of a bologna sandwich and a Heineken.

An hour passed and though it was exceptionally clear I still could not ID one tern species from another. An older women walking her dog told us that another road leading to the ocean would give a closer look, and we took her advice, packed it in and headed out to the spot she suggested. She was right. Here at our new location we were higher and a little closer. I tried scanning again and it still proved difficult. Finally I picked out an Arctic Tern. The bird was just sitting at the edge of the island and I could ID it by its smaller bill, its shorter stance, long tail and grayer overall colour. THANK GOD!!! Another lifer, though not the greatest look. As for the Roseate Terns....They were certainly there. I saw some pale terns flying with extremely long tails, but that still wasn't enough for me to call it a Roseate. Frustrated and hungry it was time to continue our journey and head to Yarmouth for lunch. I got my Arctic Tern, but not seeing a Roseate Tern when they were flying in front of me left me a little defeated.

1 comment:

  1. One of the most common first responses I get from people who find out I'm a birdwatcher is, "oh it must be so relaxing." Although this is true at times, it is also a misconception from people who have not experienced hour-long searches for hard-to-identify or absent birds. However, saying that, although it might not be relaxing, birdwatching is almost always rewarding even when it is frustrating. You learn something new EVERY time you're out there.