Monday, 4 March 2013

February in Review

The second month of the birding challenge was fair.  I was able to post nine (9) photographs, my year count stands at 51 species, eight (8) species added this month, and one new bird to my life count. 

My Bird of the Month

My bird of the month will have to be the Pearly Eyed Thrasher I saw at Codrington College on 21st of the month.  I took about four or five photographs before it flew away.  The photographs were good enough for making a positive ID, but photography wise not the greatest.  This is a bird that was once thought to be extirpated but is now being monitored to see if it is making a comeback to the island.

The Great Dry Out

As we enter the midpoint of the dry season, as was expected, some of the wetlands will start to dry out. Chancery Lane has lost about 90 – 95% of its wet area.  Just as late as last month there was a large flock of Blue Winded Teals and Greater Yellow legs there, plus a number of Snowy, Little and Great Egrets. Now when I visited this month my list was as follows:
  • 1 Lesser Blue Heron
  • 1 Least Sandpiper 
  • 3 Snowy Egrets
That was it!

Other swamps, from the south to the north of the island are being affected as well.  While taking photographs at one private shooting swamp and trying to get close to a flock of Northern Pintail ducks, a care taker of that swamp could be seen checking the water levels.  He commented to me, that because the levels are low he will pump water into the swamp.  That is why it is suggested by some, that instead of an outright ban on hunting –which would result in the loss of manmade shooting swamps, conservationist and hunters should work together.  With hunting season not slated to begin for another couple of months in the rainy season, it is still safe for the birds, as the flocks move to the shooting swamps which still have water.
These are the list of birds I saw at the above shooting swamp.
  • 10+ Blue Winged Teals
  • 5 Northern Pintails  Ducks
  • 4 Great Egrets
  • Little Egrets
  • Snowy Egrets
  • Cattle Egrets
  • Greater Yellowlegs
  • Lesser Yellowlegs
  • Least Sandpipers
  • 1 Wilson  Snipe
Here are photographs of Chancery Lane and other swamps affected by the dry season; you can contrast with photos of these locations from earlier postings.

Chancery Lane

Chancery Lane

Swamp in the east of the island

Swamp in the east of the island

Another swamp in the east

Least Sandpipers @ swamp in the east


A swamp in the North of the island
the north of the island

North of the island

Birding Event of the Month: Mist Netting

On February 9th I joined an esteemed group of individuals mist netting, in an attempt to catch our mystery bird from January.  The goal was to catch, weigh and band him and to take a blood sample then release him.
The leader of the project was Carla Daniel, a researcher with The
Barbados Bullfinch Project.  She and her group are examining a number of factors that might have played a role in the Barbados Bullfinch, our bird #1, evolving as a monochromatic species.  The others in attendance were Mr. Edward Massiah a co-authors of the book Birds ofBarbados  and his wife Hilda, Dr. John Webster a bird photographer, documentarian and producer of the series Breakfast with Birds on his Facebook page (and can now be seen on Friday mornings on a local television program “Good Morning Barbados”) and Mr. Richard Roach, an experienced bird photographer whose gallery on the website Bird Forum consist of over 80 photographs.  We arrived on location at about 5:30am.  We setup 2 mist nets and 3 fly traps, which we baited with rice- not just rice but cooked rice, I will not say which person out of the group provided the cooked rice.  After setting up we were ready to go, all we needed was our mystery bird to fly into the nets or to spring one of the traps.  While waiting, a couple birds drew our attention – 2 Yellow Warblers “Setophaga petechia”, my first sighting for the year, Caribbean Elaenia “Elaenia martinica”, and an unidentified Raptor.  About six (6) hours later we pulled up the nets with our mystery bird looking down from his perch after being all around the traps and nets but not in them.  He won the first encounter.  A Common Ground Dove "Columbina passerina" and a feisty Barbados Bullfinch "Loxigilla barbadensis" were netted, examined and released.  As we pondered on the reason why not one bird was attracted to the traps some suggested that the problem was with the bait, the cooked rice.  Well that’s another story. Never the less my first mist netting outing was educational and fun, I got up close and personal with a Bullfinch and Ground Dove, learn tons about birds and got some nice photos. 
Not bad at all.

Barbados Bullfinch
Barbados Bullfinch
Common Ground Dove
Common Ground Dove

Freeing a bird from the mist net

I enjoyed the month of February as I look forward to March, it is one of the busiest months of the year for me but I am hoping to post no less than five (5) photos.  Keep following us at 100barbadosbirds next month and see the birds of Barbados.