September 16-22 was a good week for rarities on the Avalon. Nothing mind boggling just a varied selection minor rarities and these four nice birds. First was a COMMON NIGHTHAWK found by Andrea Dicks while she was walking her dog at dusk at Kent's Pond in St. John's. Those from out of the province reading this blog will be surprised to know that nighthawk was the rarest of the four species shown here. For most St. John's birders it was to be a new bird for their provincial list. Thinking back I could remember only three other nighthawks I had seen on the island of Newfoundland and none in more than twenty years. The bird performed well each evening for at least a week. Everyone got to see it. It was fun trying to photograph it in the dusk. ISO 6400 was the only hope.
Common Nighthawk 18 Sept 2019 at Kent's Pond, St. John's, Newfoundland.
Next was a juvenile Ruff. It was at the Cochrane Pond manure pile. I visited the location before work on a very dark rainy Tuesday morning and saw this medium size brown shorebird fly in. I was expecting it be a Pectoral Sandpiper. It didn't land but as it turned around to go away I was sure I caught a flash of a white 'U' shaped rump patch. I knew that meant Ruff. Also the bird had a very fluid flight unlike a Pectoral Sandpiper. I knew it had to be a Ruff but it happened in a flash when a mind has little chance to register all the real facts. I got out of the car and there it was - a Ruff standing next to a Lesser Yellowlegs by a pool of ripe water. A brightly coloured juvenile Ruff. Newfoundland gets a couple or so Ruffs every year, mostly between May and September. Fall juveniles are the least common plumage to see. It stayed for about three days and was viewed by many others.
The juvenile Ruff with a Lesser Yellowlegs in the Goulds on 17 September 2019.
Note the unique 'U' shaped white rump band.
The bright wing underwings and clear buffy breast and head have quite a resemblance to the Buff-breasted Sandpiper.
The oddly small head of the Ruff with a Lesser Yellowlegs and Semipalmated Sandpiper.
While I was looking at the Ruff, Dave Brown was finding two Northern Wheatears at Ferryland. Everyone loves a Wheatear. They were bouncing around on the rock walls at the archaeological dig. Luckily one stayed until the weekend giving me a chance to see it.
A fan favourite always - a juvenile Northern Wheatear at Ferryland on 22 September 2019
After an intimate experience with the Wheatear I went warblering in the alders in a couple of old gravel pits in Ferryland. I heard Yellow-rumped Warblers and juncos as I entered the pit. I walked in that direction. Warblers and juncos were flying across an open pit to the trees along one edge. I stood trying to identify everything that came - Tennessee, Magnolia, lots of Blackpolls and Yellow-rumps, a few Black-throated greens then ONE OF THE BLACK-THROATED GREENS HAD A YELLOW BREAST... And a dark cheek patch. It was a TOWNSEND'S WARBLER. In September !!!? We are used to the blast of finding a TOWA in November and December or even late October on the Avalon. There are 24 or 25 records of Townsend's Warbler. This was just one more for the bin but at a new time of year. Frantically I concentrated on getting record shots of the bird. It was in sight or I knew where it was for 2 or 3 minutes. It was never real close but I was happy to get these results after some serious cropping. It was never found again even with a small group of first responders quickly on the scene.
A Townsend's Warbler at Ferryland, Newfoundland on 22 September 2019 as record early by 3 1/2 weeks.
Just one more nice week in an already action packed month... Lots of fall yet to come.