Sunday, 4 December 2016

November’s Birding

Great Egret - Ardea alba
The month of November was the reassurance that the almost two year drought was now over.  At the end of the month every pond, swamp, marsh and puddle were bursting at the seams, for example The Hope Pond, a small roadside pond in the northern parish of St. Lucy where birds such as Masked Ducks, Lesser Scaups and Great Blue Herons were recorded, was dry for two year but is now full to the brim, the Woodbourne Shorebird Refuge (WSR) was another location which was badly affected by the low rainfall but by the end of November it was a large lake.
The weather caused some damage to houses, vehicles, agricultural production and even fell trees thankfully no loss of life was reported.

Birding was not bad I tallied sixty-six species six of which were first for the year.  Here are some of my highlights other than first for the year:
Fulvous Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna bicolor
  •  Ducks made their presence felt: While Blue-winged Teal, which are normally the first migrating ducks seen for the fall migration season, were  being seen from as early as September, November had two new first fall arrivals, Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris on the 15th, Lesser Scaup Aythya affinis on the 28th.  A notable mention and my second sighting of this species for the year was a beautiful Fulvous Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna bicolor seen on the 28th.  Other birders have reported sightings of Ring-necked Ducks at a few locations across the island.  
Gray Heron Ardea cinerea
  • Gray Heron Ardea cinerea: This large heron was seen on 5th.
Northern Waterthrush Parkesia noveboracensis
  • The return of the Northern Waterthrush Parkesia noveboracensis: I heard this warbler at one other location in the east of the island before having my first sighting at the WSR on the 25th.
Barbados x Lesser Antillean Bullfinch
The future will judge if the rains of November 2016 broke the near two year drought on the island. The fact is that every wet area on the island had its thirst quenched and drank to the expansion of their banks.  This probably guarantees wetland habitats until the next rainy season, which is good for the birds and birding. 

Enjoy your birding I am 😉!   

Here is a list of the birds seen in November:

1.        Black-bellied Whistling
2.        Fulvous Whistling-Duck
3.        Blue-winged Teal
4.        Ring-necked Duck
5.        Lesser Scaup -
6.        Magnificent Frigatebird
7.        Brown Booby -
8.        Great Blue Heron
9.        Gray Heron
10.     Great Egret
11.     Little Egret
12.     Snowy Egret
13.     Little Blue Heron
14.     Cattle Egret
15.     Green Heron
16.     Black-crowned Night-Heron
17.     Glossy Ibis
18.     Osprey
19.     Common Gallinule
20.     Black-bellied Plover
21.     American Golden-Plover
22.     Semipalmated Plover
23.     Killdeer
24.     Whimbrel
25.     Hudsonian Godwit
26.     Ruddy Turnstone
27.     Red Knot
28.     Ruff
29.     Stilt Sandpiper
30.     Sanderling
31.     Least Sandpiper
32.     White-rumped Sandpiper
33.     Pectoral Sandpiper
34.     Semipalmated Sandpiper
35.     Short-billed Dowitcher
36.     Wilson's Snipe
37.     Spotted Sandpiper
38.     Solitary Sandpiper
39.     Greater Yellowlegs
40.     Lesser Yellowlegs
41.     Wood Sandpiper
42.     Laughing Gull
43.     Lesser Black-backed Gull
44.     Roseate Tern
45.     Royal Tern
46.     Scaly-naped Pigeon
47.     Eurasian Collared-Dove
48.     Common Ground-Dove
49.     Zenaida Dove
50.     Green-throated Carib
51.     Antillean Crested Hummingbird
52.     Belted Kingfisher
53.     Merlin
54.     Peregrine Falcon
55.     Caribbean Elaenia
56.     Gray Kingbird
57.     Black-whiskered Vireo
58.     Barn Swallow
59.     Northern Waterthrush
60.     Yellow Warbler
61.     Grassland Yellow-Finch
62.     Bananaquit

63.     Black-faced Grassquit
64.     Barbados Bullfinch
65.     Carib Grackle
66.     Shiny Cowbird

Friday, 2 December 2016

November Images

Roseate Tern (Sterna dougallii)
Roseate Tern (Sterna dougallii)
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)
Laughing Gull (Leucophaeus atricilla)
Laughing Gull (Leucophaeus atricilla)
Laughing Gull (Leucophaeus atricilla)
Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus)
Barbados x Lesser Antillean Bullfinch
Fulvous Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna bicolor) & Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)(2)
Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis) - under and upper looks
and again - Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)
Northern Waterthrush (Parkesia noveboracensis)

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Six for November

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferous)

At the start of the month of November reaching 100 species of birds in Barbados for 2016 was looking difficult.  I needed seven more species, which normally would not have been a problem, but with a poor to average birding year I could not envision what these species would be.  Now at the end of the month and entering the last month of the year with just one more species needed it is looking possible.  Yes six species in November.  There were Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus) on the 1st, Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica) 4th, Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster) 19th, Killdeer (Charadrius vociferous) 22nd, Ruff (Calidris pugnax) on the 24th and a Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola) on the 28th.

94. Lesser Black-backed Gull (LBBG)

Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus)
This bird was first seen by Ed Massiah at the world famous Oistins.  I saw this first yearling bird on November 1st at the same location among Laughing Gulls both mature and juveniles. The LBBG stood out because of its pinkish leg.   These birds are 21-25 inches in length with the first year juveniles being mottled brownish with a black bill. 

95. Hudsonian Godwit

Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica)-back
This large shorebird was first reported on by Dr. John Webster while he was visiting the shorebird refuge at Woodbourne, St. Philip.  While Hudsonian Godwits are considered rare to the island we have come to expect at least one every year.  I saw the bird on the morning of November 4th while it was busy feeding with other shorebirds including Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs.  Hudsonian Godwits, as we see them in nonbreeding plumage are 13-16 inches in length with a greyish upperpart and white underparts, a long slightly upturned pinkish bill and a white rump with a black tail.  It was good to see the WSR hosting such a bird.

96. Brown Booby

Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster)
There were reports and even photographs of Brown Booby sightings on both the west and south coast of the island from late October into November, so I was not too surprised when I saw these birds.  I was on my way to explore the watery deep on board the Atlantis Submarine, which surfaces about ¾ of a mile off the west coast, when I saw the birds sitting on a buoy not too far from our rendezvous point with the sub.  Later while examining the photograph, which was taken with a point and shoot camera, I noticed that the bird in the center had a band on its left leg.  I tried but was unable to read the code on the band because of the poor quality of the image.

A Brown Booby is a large seabird 30” in length, with a wingspan of 57”.  Adult upperparts and chest are brown with white underparts and a yellow bill.  The juveniles, like the one I saw, are brown all over.

97. Killdeer

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferous)
This shorebird, which got its common name “Killdeer” from its call notes, is commonly seen around this time of year in ones or twos.  Its distinctive double breast band makes it easily recognizable among the group of other plovers. This one was seen on a road, flooded from the increase rainfall we had in the month of November.
Killdeers are 10.5” in lengths, brown upperparts, white upperparts and a brownish-orange rump.  It has a white collar and a double breast band.

98. Ruff

Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster)
This was a bird I thought I had in the bag months ago, so you can imagine the surprise on checking my tally of birds for the year on, the home of all my list, and realizing that it had increased my year count by one (1) after my latest update.  This extra unexpected bird was a Ruff.  This was surprising because we had multiple sightings of Ruffs throughout the year.  These shorebirds are considered rare to this region and are known to breed in Northern Eurasia.  They are 11–13” in length, long necked, short billed with white underparts and greyish upperparts.   Ruffs, and Reeves the feminine gender, can be identified by their erect posture. 

99. Wood Sandpiper

Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)
I saw this bird while on an after work excursion in the north of the island.  While birds were not plentiful in this part of the island I did find a shallow pond with over twenty Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs.  A bird, just smaller than a Lesser Yellowleg with an unfamiliar call, caught my attention.  It was just after 5:00pm and the sunlight was fading fast, so I booted my camera’s ISO up to 1600 and tried to get as many images as possible.  On examination of the images I noted it had strong supercilium that ran from the base of the bill and continued pass the eyes.  This was something I looked for in a Wood Sandpiper.  On arriving home I played the call for Wood Sandpiper and it was identical to the call the bird made.  I then shared a photo on the local bird alert web and it was confirmed as a Wood Sandpiper.
Wood Sandpipers are 7-8” in length, with dark grey-brown upperparts, light flecks or spots, and white underparts.  Their legs are yellow-green.  Wood Sandpipers breed widely across the north of Europe and Asia, mostly in Scandinavia, Baltic countries and Russia and are vagrant to Barbados.

 The goal now will be to find that 100th bird asap to make it three consecutive years of 100 Barbados bird species in a calendar year.  Will I make it? Stay tuned!