Female Varied Thrush captured on a Trail Cam at Clara Dunne's bird feeder at Renews, Newfoundland.
This opened up the adrenaline hoses that had been seizing up after a couple of quiet weeks of birding. The news was spread and plans were made to skip work or any responsibilities for Tuesday. This was the 7th Varied Thrush for Newfoundland and Labrador but it has been a good while since there was one around that was relatively easy to see. The newer birders on the block had never seen one and the veterans had not seen one for a long time.
I was happy for an excuse to take time off work. Ken Knowles and I left St. John's in time to reach Renews just before sunrise. It was an incredibly clear, cool dawn with the fir trees standing out razor sharp against the growing fiery eastern sky. We parked the car sidesaddle to the feeder so we could both be ready with our cameras when the bird arrived. IT NEVER ARRIVED. The Varied Thrush did not come to Clara's feeder today. Another 8 birders showed up for the stake out. It was simply not there to be seen
Ken and I spent four solid hours sitting in the car near the feeder before we had to leave for a whizz. The piss stop turned into a longer birding circuit of Renews harbour. We came back to the feeder before heading back to St. John's at 2 pm. Clara's Trail Cam did not pick it up either. Newfoundland Varied Thrush has an ominous record of playing very hard to get even when showing up at bird feeders.
So here we go again. In some ways waiting for a Varied Thrush is a waste of precious birding time, but actually seeing the classy bird on Newfoundland soil would make it worthwhile. Attached are some of the sights from today. We missed the Varied Thrush but saw this.
The faithful White-winged Dove could not have picked a better bird feeder to try to spend the winter in Newfoundland. It has been present since late November. There is only one other WWDO that has tried to over winter in Newfoundland and it made it. Fingers are crossed for this bird.
The two Mourning Doves at Clara's feeder were even shier than the White-winged Dove. Their bills are tiny compared to the White-winged Dove.
Common Grackle tries to survive year-round in Newfoundland but it seems their noble effort is waning. It is becoming rare again. Clara has this one at her feeder every day.
There were at least four flickers making the rounds of Clara's feeders. They take no duff from any bird while at the feeder including the pig-fashioned starlings.
This snipe had a little patch of water to probe its bill at the 'Snipe Spot'.
A yearling Harp Seal tried sleeping on the ice but could not seem to get settled down.
This young Hooded Seal had no trouble sleeping time away on the ice in the centre of inner Renews harbour. Note the dark back clearly contrasting with the pale side.