It is a breathless Friday evening. Wired to the max. Tony Dunne of Renews, the same non-birder that found the Common Shelduck on or about 3 April emailed photos of two breeding plumage BLACK-TAILED GODWITS from Renews today! We had been watching the weather maps carefully for the last couple of days. The projected isobar map predictions were getting better every day. Sunday to Tuesday is looking particularly interesting. I was already indicating to people at my work I would likely be missing on Monday.
The appearance of TWO BLACK-TAILED GODWITS in Renews today ahead of the best looking part of the easterly wind event is exciting for several reasons. BTGO is pretty rare in Newfoundland. On average maybe once every three years in spring, most in first half of May. Only once before was there a duo which happened to be the last NF sighting in 2011 at Little Catalina around May 21, quite late. Surely the relatively common European Golden Plover is here also.
Black-tailed Godwit is a jewel compared to the more regular European Golden Plover. And it just so happens tomorrow is the 26th of April which is known among veteran Icelandic vagrant hunters as Magic Golden Plover Day. More first arrivals, the biggest flocks, the best Golden Plover events have all happened on 26 April. Tomorrow is a Saturday. The winds are looking great.
It has been a desperately poor spring in Newfoundland. We have been on a string of hope for the even the most basic pleasures of spring birding that everyone else in the civilized world takes for granted. We watch the weather maps for the possibility of an Icelandic handout. It is like going from rags to riches overnight. You cannot count on it but if it happens WE ARE READY with our mouths wide open.
These two Black-tailed Godwits are not likely to be an isolated event. Bruce has been wrong on predictions before but the feeling is overpowering, this is could be the Tip of the Golden Iceberg.
The weather map from today 25 April 2014. Not perfect but not bad. No head wind for a European bird that wants to cross to the Newfoundland side. This is an important first step. It usually requires two huge Lows to span the Atlantic and then line up to produce a good continuous eastward flow across the Atlantic. It is not a common event.
This is the projected map for Monday. It is similar for Tuesday. We've seen promising maps in the past that failed to produce but these all looks dynamite.
Watch this space!