Friday, 12 January 2018

2017 Review: My Highlights

Blackpoll Warbler seen at Graeme Hall Swamp in May

Two thousand and seventeen was a celebratory year for me.  It was the fifth year for the blog and also my fifth year, officially, as a birder.  I decided to take on the challenge that started this blog, the challenge of photographing 100 different bird species seen on the island in a calendar year.  That challenge is what drove my birding throughout 2017 to a tally of 98 species which included 5 lifers, two of which were first for the island and as for the photo challenge I photographed 95 birds.


My first lifer for the year, a Tufted Duck, was recorded in the month of March. This was the first of two new bird species that were added to the island’s avian checklist during 2017.  It was first seen by birder and photographer Dr. John Webster in the southern parish of Christ Church (Here).  My second lifer was a Pacific Golden-Plover seen in the eastern parish of St. Philip on May 4th (Here).  This next lifer, a Black Kite, was my bird of the year.  I saw it while doing a birding tour with a visiting Canadian birder, Martin Gebauer who was able to identify this beautiful raptor (Here).  This was the second record of this bird of prey on the island. A Ringed Kingfisher was my fourth lifer for the year.  This new record for the island was seen at the WSR during the month of September. My final lifer was special because it was first seen by my son.  It was a Eurasian Spoonbill.

Birding Tours

Black-whiskered Vireo
I did three solo birding tours in 2017, a first for me.  In January I guided Alex and Zvezda Strazar, of Slovenia, they were both starting a World Photograph big year and I was happy to help them find and photograph West Indian endemics like Black-whiskered Vireo, Scaly-naped Pigeon and Caribbean Elaena.  They finished the year with 375 species.  In April I took New Zealander Robyn Carter and then in July I toured with Canadian Martin Gebauer who help in identifying the Black Kite we saw during the trip.   I really enjoyed sharing the Birds of Barbados with these birders while benefiting from their birding knowledge. I am looking forward to continue these birding trips in 2018.

Big Year

Purple Heron
Even though I knew it was going to be a busy year I still decided to take on a photographic big year to celebrate my fifth year of birding and blogging.  As it did in 2013, big years push my birding to another level and for 2017 I recorded a new species, a Ringed Kingfisher, for the island.  I also had first sightings of a number of rarities e.g. Purple Heron and Pacific Golden-Plover.  I had two Blackpoll Warbler highlights during the year.  First was a rare record of one in the month of May.  This one I saw at Graeme Hall Swamp.  Then on October 14th I recorded 15 of these warblers at Harrison’s Point during bad weather.  I enjoyed every checklist of the challenge and will probably try it again in a few years.
Blackpoll Warbler at Harrison's Point in October

In 2017 I did not reach my birding goals but I ticked it off as a good birding year.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

2017 Review: Barbados

Mega Rare Bird: Black Kite 
Two thousand and seventeen was, to me, a bitter sweet year for birding in Barbados.  Sweet in that we recorded over 100 species, new species, mega-rare birds and a few that could be considered rare.  I felt that it was not a good year because even though we had these outstanding species they was a visual decline in the number of birds on the ground.  Let us take a look.

New Species 
New Specie : Ringed Kingfisher
Two more species were added to Barbados avian checklist during 2017, giving a year ending total of 270 species ever recorded on the island (Avibase - Bird Checklists of the World Barbados)  .  The first bird, a Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula, was discovered by Dr. John Webster. It was sitting on a pond with Ring-necked Ducks in a southern parish (see post here).  The second bird, a Ringed Kingfisher Megaceryle torquata, I first heard on September 21st at Woodbourne Shorebird Refuge (WSR) (see post here).
New Specie : Tufted Duck

Mega Rarities
Mega Rare Bird: Pacific Golden-Plover
I referred to birds occurring once every 4 or more years as Mega rare and in 2017 we had a few. The first two were seen in the month of May, both of which were Eurasian species.  Pacific Golden-Plover Pluvialis fulvan (read) was seen on May 4th while a juvenile Purple Heron Ardea purpurea (read ) was seen on May 31st.  The birds from across the Atlantic continued to show with a Black Kite Milvus migrans (here) on July 8th Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia (here).   On November 28th I was emailed a photograph of an Owl, Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus which flew into a house but flew out unharmed.  This bird most likely originated from one of our neighboring islands.
Mega Rare Bird: Eurasian Spoonbill

Rare bird: Wood Sandpiper
Here a list of the recorded rare birds for 2017:

  • Fulvous Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna bicolor
  • Brown Pelican - Pelecanus occidentalis
  • Masked Booby - Sula dactylatra
  • Gray Heron - Ardea cinerea - becoming a yearly visitor
  • Tricolored Heron - Egretta tricolor 
  • Striated Heron - Butorides striata
  • Yellow-crowned Night-Heron - Nyctanassa violacea- maybe breeding but not common
  • Glossy Ibis - Plegadis falcinellus  - becoming a yearly visitor
  • Purple Gallinule - Porphyrio martinicus
  • Ruff - Calidris pugnax - 2017 was a good year for Ruff, seen throughout the year
  • Wilson's Phalarope -  Phalaropus tricolor
  • Wood Sandpiper - Tringa glareola
  • Pearly-eyed Thrasher - Margarops fuscatus - becoming a yearly visitor

The Bitter
While it was pleasing to see the number of rare birds in 2017 there was an obvious decline in the number of birds on the ground, more so seen in the migrating duck species. The Blue-winged Teal, for example, is our most numerous migrating duck specie.  It is normal, during the months of September to December to come across them at almost every birding location on the island but in 2017 it was they were hard bird to find, also for the second year running no American Wigeons were recorded on island. Lets hope this is not the beginning of a trend and just a off year for these birds on the island.
Two thousand and eighteen in now upon us, I am hoping for a good year of birding and birds on the island of Barbados.

Sunday, 7 January 2018


I maybe late but not too late to wish you all a wonderful 2018, birding wise and otherwise.  I was have problems with the blog account but thanks to the staff at Google it is back online and over the coming day I will be posting my 2017 review. 
I look forward to your continuing support in 2018.