Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Rumblings from Newfoundland

Like most active northeastern birders, I keep tabs on the happenings in Atlantic Canada in hopes of noticing certain trends that could influence my birding here in southern New England. For instance...many reverse migrants in Nova Scotia all of sudden? get out and look for southern/western vagrants. Perhaps the most interesting province to monitor is Newfoundland, which juts out into the North Atlantic like Cape Ann sticks into the Gulf of Maine. I like paying close attention to their listserv because they routinely get several species that are nearly non-existent anywhere else in North America, such as Yellow-legged Gull and European Golden-Plover.

One of the birds that gets their blood pumping (and for good reason) is Northern Lapwing, a common plover in Europe. The species appears to be nearly annual in the province. Here in New England, this is one of those birds you dream about finding. For a quick regional summary of Northern Lapwing, here is an excerpt from an article I wrote for the "Connecticut Warbler" a couple years ago:

"This striking and vocal Eurasian shorebird should be looked for during late fall and winter, when few people have shorebirds on their minds. Northern Lapwing is a bird of fields, pastures, meadows, and marshes. This preferred habitat is not unlike that of our Killdeer, and not surprisingly lapwings will associate with this species after straying to North America. If one is going to be found in Connecticut, it will most likely occur at a place with this sort of open habitat, such as Rocky Hill Meadows or Hammonasset Beach State Park. Several Atlantic states and provinces have recorded Northern Lapwing, but it should be noted that most Canadian records resulted from major Atlantic Ocean storms in December 1927 and January 1966. Newfoundland is the only location in North America where this species occurs somewhat regularly. There are very few recent regional sightings, and only three New England records exist (Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island). New York, however, has four accepted records, two of which occurred in the 1990s."

Just like we scour the Canadian listservs for potential rarities, Newfoundland birders pay close attention to the weather in northwestern Europe and over the North Atlantic Ocean. Newfoundland's greatest rarites are usually of European origin, so this makes perfect sense. The recent weather over there has caught the eye of birders such as Dave Brown, who just wrote about this.

Today Newfoundland birders found 1 or 2 lapwings. Could this be the first of many for Atlantic Canada? David Shepherd wonders.

We'll have to wait and see what develops, and then hope for the best. You may recall that an invasion of Ivory Gulls to Newfoundland last winter spilled southward to Massachusetts. Perhaps lightning can strike twice.

- Nick

4 comments:

  1. With your luck, or rather skill, in predicting what will happen on the Connecticut birding scene of late I would bet on a Lapwing here in CT, based solely on your prediction. Strong work!

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  2. Hey Chris, thanks for the comment! But I have to throw in a caveat...no way I have the guts to predict a Lapwing in CT! Just some food for thought, especially if a real invasion materializes up there (which has yet to happen).

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  3. I didn't think it was a true prediction but with your recent string of rarities, starting with the Red-necked Stint a few years back, nothing is out of the question!

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  4. And of course this is why the irresponsible 2010 April Fool hoax, in which someone who ought to have known better "jokingly" reported a Northern Lapwing on Block Island to the RI bird list, was beyond annoying.

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