Last Thursday and Friday’s intense rainstorm that originated in the Caribbean and poured well over 100 millimeters of rain into Charlotte County also brought rain and strong southerly winds to Grand Manan. By Friday afternoon came reports of YELLOW-THROATED VIREOS in Fredericton and Lorneville, just south of Saint John. By Saturday Mark Morse, Roger Burrows, Durlan Ingersoll and other birders on Grand Manan began reporting more of them along with an enticing list of other southern birds brought by the storm. All were hungry and feeding like crazy on whatever insect life they could find in the coastal thickets.
For me, Sunday was to be a day to catch up on a number of things I’d fallen behind on. However by early Saturday evening I decided I’d make the supreme sacrifice and give it all up – to go birding on Grand Manan on Sunday. So I threw a few things together on Saturday evening and caught the last ferry of the day to the island.
Others had the same idea and Sunday morning’s first ferry brought Karen Miller, Janet Kempster, Rose-Alma Mallet, Carmella Melanson and Stu Tingley to the island.
I’ve been birding since 1963 and have enjoyed some wonderful birding days on Grand Manan and White Head Island. But yesterday (Sunday, October 29th) was without question the most memorable for bird rarities all concentrated together. To put it into perspective, collectively we saw 15 species of wood warblers yesterday – and the most numerous was HOODED WARBLER! I had previously seen only three here in NB in 50+ years but yesterday I saw six (three females, three males) out of a total of at least eight that were accounted for over the two-day period by various observers.
Notable birds that I saw (most with Janet and Karen) included:
CATTLE EGRET – 1 (at farm on road to airport)
YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO - 1
Red-eyed Vireo - 2
WHITE-EYED VIREO – 8+
YELLOW-THROATED VIREO – 3
Gray Catbird – 20+
Tennessee Warbler– 1
ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER – 3
Northern Parula – 5
Magnolia Warbler – 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler – 2
Black-throated Green Warbler – 1
Blackburnian Warbler – 1
YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER – 1
Pine Warbler – 3
Black-and-white Warbler – 1
Ovenbird - 1
American Redstart – 2
HOODED WARBLER – 6
Common Yellowthroat – 2
SUMMER TANAGER - 2
Rose-breasted Grosbeak – 1
INDIGO BUNTING – 12
The above list is from my notes only. Additional warblers seen during the two days by others included Chestnut-sided, GOLDEN-WINGED and Cape May Warbler as well as two other YELLOW-THROATED and two other HOODED.
Mark Morse kept a list of the birds he and Durlan saw on Saturday and their numbers were higher than what we found on Sunday. They also got some great documentary photos. Durlan reported dozens of INDIGO BUNTINGS passing by the lighthouse at Long Eddy Point on Saturday afternoon. We saw only 12 on Sunday, but including a feeding group of seven together on the Whistle Road late on Sunday afternoon.
Similar reports have come from certain coastal locations in Nova Scotia with many of the same species involved.
Jean and I spent several days on Grand Manan during the week of October 16th and experienced the quietest fall birding we could remember. This weekend certainly made up for that!
We also saw three migrating MONARCH butterflies toward the southern end of Grand Manan.