Saturday, 13 October 2018

Bobolinks on October’s Big Day

Bobolink - Dolichonyx oryzivorus by Dr.J. Webster
I really love and enjoy the yearly Global Big Day initiative by Cornell, but always bemoaned the fact that it was held at one of the low points of our birding season where a record of 40 species on that day would be considered an accomplishment.  Following the end of this year’s Global Big Day in May I learnt of the October Big Day and was eagerly planning to be a part of it.  Unfortunately that was not possible, but I was still able to spend a few hours birding in the parish of St. Lucy with my son Jason and Dr. John Webster on that day and saw Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus), a year bird for me.   As you may know if you follow this blog, in the month of October the local birders normally focus their attention on a path of woodland at the once American Naval Base at Harrisons Point St. Lucy.  This patch of woods is an Important Birding Area for birds, mainly for Warblers, during their migration from North to South America but it was not here that I saw the Bobolinks.  It was at the private location not too far away, feeding on seeding grass with over 50 Grassland Yellowfinches.  This offered the rare privilege to compare these two yellowish seed eaters.  It was easy to find the bobolinks among the yellow finches with the Bobolinks being twice the size of the Grasslands.
Bobolinks are 7.25” in length, yellowish in colour when in non-breeding plumage, the way we see them. These birds feed mainly on seeds and migrate from North America to South America.
I really wanted to be a part of October Big Day, but that was not to be, I eagerly await next year.

Saturday, 29 September 2018

October Big Day - October 6,2018

Every year for the last four years Global Big Day has set new heights for a single day of birding. This massively international collaborative birding event has been so great we want to have another worldwide eBird Big Day in October. Read more
By Team ebird

Monday, 17 September 2018

Shorebirds at Long Beach

Since the Sargassum Seaweed began its invasion of our beaches a few years ago, Long Beach has been a magnet for shorebirds during their migration.  This year was no different, that was until the passing of Tropical Storm Isaac to the north of the island on Thursday September 13th then the numbers quadruple.  I visited Long Beach around midday on that day- hundreds of shorebirds birds of various species could be seen all over the beach busy feeding but my visit was cut short, thanks to a big,big biiig unleashed dog, roving the beach.  I had no time to do a count of the birds but i did noticed 4 Red Knots which was impressive for the island.  Dr. John Webster visited the following day, (see his checklist here) and reported extraordinary numbers of Semipalmated Sandpipers (490), White-rumped Sandpipers (240), Ruddy Turnstones (210), Sanderlings (90) and Red Knots (6).
Red Knot

I visited Long Beach again on the morning of Saturday September 15th, but again a count proved difficult as a cleaning of the beach was being undertaken by Clean up Barbados.  Hundreds of birds took to the sky every time an unsuspecting volunteer disturbed their feeding, giving a visual display of the vast numbers on the beach.  I am happy that these at-risk migrants have found a much needed source of sustenance on their yearly flight to greener pastures.  Let’s hope that Long Beach and beaches like it across the Caribbean or the Americas as a matter of fact, continue to provide safe havens for these travelers.   
P.S: A visit to Long Beach the following day found a drastic reduction in the number of birds.
see more images here
Birding ending dog!!

Shorebirds at Long Beach (Images)

Semipalmated and White-rumped Sandpipers
Shorebirds flushed during beach cleanup
Shorebirds feeding
Ruddy Turnstone and other shorebirds
Lesser Yellowleg and other birds
Short-billed Dowitcher
Birds on the beach
Big, big, biiig dog

Friday, 14 September 2018

Northern Birding Part 2

This is the second of a two parts description of my birding trips to the northern parish of St. Lucy on September 2nd and 8th
Saturday, September 8th, found my birding pal (my son Jason) and I, once again in the northern parish of St. Lucy.  We were there not just for birding but to take part in the Global Shorebird Count which is a part of the World Shorebirds Day.  We were hoping to see the Collared Plovers from last week, and with the help of Dr. Webster, do a systematic count of the many shorebirds in the north.

Our counting started at 6am at our first location which was busy with shorebirds.  Jason, who started birding in July, recorded his first lifer for the morning a juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron.  Not too long after that he had another lifer an Upland Sandpiper.  This bird has evaded me since I first saw it in 2013 and was on my 2018 Migration Bucketlist so you could just imagine the satisfaction I felt as I marked it off my bucketlist.  We spent 1 hour and 24 minutes at that location and recorded 29 species of which 11 were shorebirds.  I was mostly impressed by the number of Semipalmated Sandpipers (350) and White-rumped Sandpipers (70).

With most of our allotted time for the morning’s birding slowly ticking away, we made a mad dash in the attempt to record two of the rarest shorebirds on the island, the Collared Plovers, which we saw last weekend, and the Southern Lapwing, which we did not, on that occasion.  The tables were turned this time, we had no problem finding the Lapwing, a lifer for Jason but lucked out on the Collared Plovers.  I guess that is the way birding goes anyway we tallied 30 species.

All in all we had a wonderful two weekends birding in the north.  Of course it will be a regular occasion when we enter the month of October, which is customarily our warbler season at Harrisons point.  I eagerly look forward to sharing it with you.  Enjoy your Birding!

Here is a list of all birds seen that day: 

  1. Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis)
  2. Scaly-naped Pigeon (Patagioenas squamosa)
  3. Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
  4. Common Ground-Dove (Columbina passerina)
  5. Common Gallinule (Gallinula galeata)
  6. Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus)
  7. Southern Lapwing (Vanellus chilensis)
  8. Upland Sandpiper Bartramia longicauda
  9. Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla)
  10. White-rumped Sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis)
  11. Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos)
  12. Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla)
  13. Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus)
  14. Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria)
  15. Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca)
  16. Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)
  17.  Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
  18. Green Heron (Butorides virescens)
  19. Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
  20. Gray Kingbird (Tyrannus dominicensis)
  21. Black-whiskered Vireo (Vireo altiloquus)
  22. Caribbean Martin (Progne dominicensis)
  23. Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
  24. Shiny Cowbird (Molothrus bonariensis)
  25. Carib Grackle (Quiscalus lugubris)
  26. Yellow Warbler (Golden) (Setophaga petechia [petechia Group])
  27. Grassland Yellow-Finch (Sicalis luteola)
  28.  Black-faced Grassquit (Tiaris bicolor)
  29. Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola)
  30. Barbados Bullfinch (Loxigilla barbadensis)