Quidi Vidi Lake in January

Ever since the banishing of the sewage bubble from the St. John's harbour, we have seen almost zero Black-headed Gulls. Ducks and gulls have a propensity for milling around sewage outposts in the ocean. Or in marinas and harbours. Which is why you often see so many gulls near both people and boats. They also enjoy handouts and a bit of scavenging, which we well know. But there is another place in the city where winter gulls are found in abundance. Quidi Vidi Lake plays an important ecological role in the city of St. John's. It is geographically positioned right next to the ocean and is probably a tad brackish (somewhere between saltwater and freshwater) which contributes to it being a hot spot for seabirds and waterfowl. Two small rivers run into the lake and the mouths of these rivers teem with ducks. And almost religiously, different species of ducks choose one of the two river deltas and stay put (besides Mallards, American Black Ducks and Northern Pintail; they're neutral and have claimed the entire lake as their territory).

Let's get into the Capulets and Montagues. At the Virginia River outlet (Capulets) we have this fine American Wigeon mixing it up with some American Black Ducks.






And oops, this guy is not a duck but include him, we shall.


And from the Rennie's Mill River outlet (Montagues) we have these Tufted Ducks.



And Greater Scaup.


And their beautiful female counterparts.



Quidi Vidi Lake always has a plethora of duck species kicking around. What's really great are the wintering gull species. I like to visit once per week in the winter because the selection changes so much. From this week in January I saw Arctic Herring Gulls and Great Black-backed Gulls (year-round species).


But also these Iceland Gulls.




And my two bonus round birds from the lake will be:



More photos from St. John's, NL and my field study location, Protection Island, WA soon!

Somebody needs a GPS

I found an interesting specimen whilst quickly perusing the banks of Quidi Vidi Lake this afternoon. He or she is pretty far north, even for migration according to both of my most trusted field guides. An American Coot! The American Coot is not a rare species in North America but it isn't seen as often in Newfoundland as it is everywhere else. It looked pretty natural swimming among the Mallards and the Northern Pintail until I noticed the short, round little bum bobbing like a cork and said Hey, one of these things is not like the others.

By the way, my favorite field guide both in general and for North America is The Sibley Guide to Birds by David Allen Sibley. I love everything about it. I love the illustrations, the layout and the fact that it is both a thorough reference and not too heavy (some will disagree) to carry while birdwatching. This is what it looks like:


The other field guide that I use often is The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America by Donald and Lillian Stokes. I like this one because it uses photos instead of illustrations so that if you just can't decipher your bird with Sibley's, you can have a look at a real picture of the bird. I highly recommend both guides.


As an end note, I'll leave you with the list of birds I saw at QV in the half hour I was there:

American Coot, Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon), Greater Scaup, American Black Duck, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Black-headed Gull (first time I've ever seen them!), Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull and Great Cormorant (a juvenile by himself diving for fish, maybe my favorite find today).


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