Monday, 24 February 2014

The Great Back Yard Bird Count: Day 1

The Great Back Yard Bird Count: Day 1
I decided that after missing the Christmas Bird Count (CBC) and the Caribbean Waterbirds Census (CWC), to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC).  When I first heard of the GBBC last year, I thought it was just a count of the birds in your back yard.  That would have been a very short count for me, but the GBBC really is an annual four-day event that engages birders from across the world, of all ages, in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of bird populations worldwide.  Participants are not tied to their backyards but can submit checklist from any location.
This 17th annual GBBC was held on Friday, February 14, through Monday, February 17, 2014.  It was a very hectic weekend for me after committing to a number of events before adding this one to the itinerary.

Friday 14
Friday 14th, even though it was a day off from work for me, I had a whole day appointment which started at 9am.  No problem.  I left for birding in the morning at about 5am and headed to the north of the island, St. Lucy.  I love birding in St. Lucy, but have not been able to get there very often so far for the year.  I arrived at my first location, Animal Flower Cave at about 5:45am.  It was still dark outside so I got my gear out and headed for a dilapidated hunting hut at an abandoned hunting area close by.  I was hoping to get the sun as it rose over the hut. 
As the sun shed its first light on the north of the island, the Grassland Yellow Finches were noisily going about feeding and looking for food.  A number of our common birds were also about.  The main birds I was hoping to see were Caribbean Martins, but to no avail, it was still too early for the main migration flock to arrive.

My next stop was Alaska, a private location not too far from the Animal Flower Cave.  As I entered the property, a Tricolor Heron, a lifer for me, took flight for the pond.  They were not many birds there as Alaska’s water levels were very low.  Other notable observations were a Barn Swallow and a Merlin.


I arrived at Fosters at 7:15 am.  The water level at this location was also very low. The main pond was now a series of puddles, making it easier for Herons to feed on the now trapped fish caught in these puddles.  There were seven types of Herons/Egrets at this pond, a Great Blue, a Little Blue and a Green Heron.  There were also Great, Snowy, Little and Cattle Egrets.  A single Glossy Ibis was also in the mix. A few types of shorebirds were also recorded.  From here I traveled south to my next stop Six Men’s Bay.

Six Men’s Bay
If you are a regular follower of this Blog, you would have known that Six Men’s Bay is the wintering ground for over one hundred Sanderlings.  As I pulled into the parking lot, the call of these birds could be heard above the roaring of the sea.  The imposing figures of Magnificent Frigate birds soared over the fishing boats anchored near the beach.  I was hoping one would fly into the range of my 300mm Canon lens but none came.  Further out to sea was a Gull swooping down to sea level and back up.  Sadly it was out of the range of my camera and binoculars so I was unable to identify the species. I ended my first day of the GBBC at 8:30am and headed home to prepare for my 9am appointment.

Stay tune for Day 2