Cool summer hasn't stopped migratory birds from flocking to the Rock

Despite the cool and underwhelming summer, migratory birds are still showing up in droves.

Our feathered friends may be hardier than us, says tour guide Jared Clarke

A puffin sits outside its nest in Elliston. Puffins are a huge draw for international birders. (Submitted by Mark Gray)

This summer seems to be anything but. The sun arrived too late and, if history is any indication, will probably leave too soon.

Humans around here would likely prefer that the season be a bit more summery — but how has all that fog and cool air affected migratory birds?

Jared Clarke, who runs nature tour business Bird the Rock, says migratory birds are making the trip to the island despite the change in weather.

They're tougher than we often give them credit for.- Jared Clarke

"They're all there, absolutely," Clarke said. "If you think about the migratory birds that come here every year to breed — from much further south for the most part — they're tougher than we often give them credit for." 

That doesn't mean they're on schedule.

"This cool spring they were pretty delayed. A lot of them were arriving a week to 10 days late," said Clarke. "When you're trying to crowd a whole breeding season into just a few shorts weeks of summer, that's a lot of time to lose."

The birds haven't let the delay dampen their spirits, though; Clarke said they're getting back on track.

"The birds have really stopped singing in the last couple of weeks, which indicates that they're at the point where the eggs are hatching and they're carrying a lot of food, which shows that they're feeding young," he said. 

"So the cool weather probably delayed things a little bit, but I think the birds are doing OK."

A great cormorant bird is one of the birds you can spot in Newfoundland. (Dennis Minty Photography)

They've touched down in N.L. after some flight delays, but it's not all peachy keen for some of our avian friends when they're looking for a bite to eat.

"For example, a lot of the warblers that come here to breed are almost entirely dependent on eating insects, and this kind of cool weather really affects when the insects arrive, when they hatch [and] the number of insects that might be up and flying around. So I'm sure it makes it more difficult for a lot of birds to be finding food." 

Birders love the Rock

The birds are hanging in there despite the late summer, and Clarke said birders are also having to make some adjustments.

"I think the biggest change for me is that I have to remind my guests to pack an extra sweater most of the time, because it's gonna be a bit cooler than they were expecting when they're coming to Newfoundland in July and they've got to wear a fall jacket," Clarke says. 

Those guests come from around the world to see birds that can be hard to locate anywhere else.

"To come here and to not just see a puffin, but see tens of thousands of puffins … just those huge seabird spectacles, being able to see tens if not hundreds of thousands of birds at once — just incredible birds too — you really feel like you're in a nature documentary."

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With files from On The Go