Monday, 31 March 2014

Two New Birding Locations in St Lucy

Two New Birding Locations in St Lucy

It all started with a telephone call from Dr. John Webster informing me that he and Edward Massiah had discovered a new pond in the St. Lucy area.  In this pond they found a female Ruddy Duck, a species which is no stranger to the island, with records dating back as far as the 1800s (Birds of Barbados).  This duck though, has not been recorded, in the wild, for many years.  It was of great interest to me too, having only seen the Ruddy Duck/White-cheeked Pintail hybrid at Royal Westmoreland, a golf resort here in Barbados.  Seeing one in the wild would be a first for me.
My next question to Dr. Webster was a question any birder would ask.  When can I go and see it?  A week is a long time to wait to see a bird but our schedules were conflicting, so it had to wait until the next weekend.  My next step was to find this pond on Google Earth to try to find out how it could have been over looked for such a long time.  I found what I thought was the pond, in an area called Half Acres.  It was not a difficult pond to reach and I was able to visit this Pond early one morning.  There were ducks there but none were Ruddy Ducks.  So thinking I had missed it, I dejectedly called Dr. Webster to let him know I found the pond but no Ruddy Duck.  On explaining my location and the route I took to get there, I was surprised to learn that it was not the pond he had told me about, but in fact I had accidentally discovered another new pond and from what I saw at this pond it may also be an IBA (Important Birding Area) for Barbados, and maybe even the region.

The Half  Acres Pond 

How this pond too, remained undetected for so long is beyond me.  It is about a mile away from another pond, Chance Hall Pond, which I visited three times in the last two weeks and is also just a couple metres away from a busy highway.  The pond was about 58m at the widest area and it looks deep, showing no effects of water loss from the drought that is affecting so many of our wet areas at this time.  Black-crowned Night Herons, about nine of them of varying ages where observed among the Egrets.  One of the Night Herons was sitting on a nest.  It was always thought that these herons had a roost in this area, since single birds were seen at various nearby locations.  This not only confirmed this fact, but is noted as the first record of nesting outside of The WSR.  This was a good find, but there is still another pond with a Ruddy Duck to be found.
What was also very interesting was that it housed a major Cattle Egret rockery and from the condition of the trees it was there for a while.

  Pond #2

On Saturday afternoon on March 23rd the family and I were in the Parish of St. Lucy, we decided to go and look for the other pond.  Thanks to Edward Massiah, I was able to pinpoint the location of the pond on Google Maps.  Seeing it on the map though, and actually getting to it was a different story.  With my wife as navigator, we set off.  After making wrong turns, giving up, restarting, off roading and other uncertainties, we finally located the pond.  This was confirmed by a beautiful female Ruddy Duck to the far side of the pond.  The pond was circular in shape, about 55m at its widest and showing signs of water loss.  On my first approach to the pond I saw a lone female Masked Duck, was this Laurie? The truth is, to me every lone Female Masked Duck I see I think it could be Laurie.  The pond also contained 2 other ducks, female Blue-winged Teals, and a couple of Common Gallinules. 

I was happy to see we have two more ponds to add to our bird trail.  I will keep monitoring these locations and update you on any new occurrences.  These ponds also encouraged me to keep checking for other ponds on the island with the help of Google Earth.  So, you never know, this list could be updated.  Until next time enjoy your birding.

The New Ponds (images)

Photographs from the two newly discovered ponds in the parish of St Lucy
Looking North at Half Acres Pond(HAP)

Look North East at Half Acres Pond
Cattle Egret @ HAP

Cattle Egrets and a Mature Black Crowned Night Heron

Juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron @ HAP

Sitting on it nest - BCNH @ HAP

Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret and Juvenile BCNH

Grey Kingbird on the look out @ HAP

Cattle Egrets @ HAP

Masked and Ruddy Duck (f) @ Lamberts

Masked Duck @ Lamberts

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Monday, 24 March 2014

Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia )

Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia)
Photographs were taken at two locations in the parish of St Michael last week


What a beautiful bird don't you agree? 

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

GBBC:Days 3&4

 February 16

Day 3 of the GBBC was a day that was not on my schedule.  The family and I spent the morning of February __ in the scenic parish of St. Andrew, and on our way home we started counting all the birds along the way.  The count was made up of common birds with the Carib Grackles having the highest count of 63 in total, followed by our endemic Bullfinch totaling 20.  In total 15 species were recorded on our drive.  It was also the first time the entire family was out birding together.

 February 17

Day 4
Like day 3, day 4 just happened.  At the end of my day I happened to be in close proximity to two swamps in St. Philip –Bayfield and Golden Grove.   My first stop was at Bayfield.

Bayfield Pond

When you think of Bayfield Pond one bird comes to mind – Masked Ducks.  Even though the pond is overrun with water lilies and in the midst of a densely populated village, these shy ducks seem to find it appealing.  This makes it probably one of the best places in the world to observe these ducks in the wild.  There were five Masked Ducks in the pond, three females and two males.  Eared Doves are also common to this area and for the first time for the weekend this species entered the count registering three doves.   From Bayfield my next stop was about a mile away- Golden Grove.

Golden Grove

After being granted permission from the care taker to enter this private swamp, I set about continuing my count.  There were twenty-one species seen at Golden Grove.  The high counts were thirty-nine Blue-winged Teals and thirty Least Sandpipers.  There were also ten Greater Yellowlegs and eight Wilson’s Snipes.  From there I headed to the Parish of St. John for my final stop in the GBBC 2014 – Codrington College.

Codrington College

One of the oldest buildings in Barbados, this Theological College allows visitors to enjoy the tranquility of its beautiful surroundings.  The property with its well-manicured lawns, mahogany woods and lily pond is an attraction for many birds.  I recorded 21 species, mostly common species to the island.  The high count was 21 Zenaida Doves.  I was surprised not to see Eurasian –collared Doves, the population at this location is steadily increasing.  It is also a good location to see and photograph Green Herons but on this occasion only one was seen. 

At about 4:30pm my first GBBC came to an end.  The funny thing is that I did not do any birding in my own backyard, lol.   Please stay tuned for the breakdown of the details in our next post.  Until then, enjoy your birding!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Egrets Feeding (Video)

Three types of white Egrets at Congo Road, Barbados. Snowy (Egretta thula) , its old world equivalent Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) and two Great Egrets (Ardea alba). Can you identify them?

Click for Id helper: Snowy Egret, Little Egret, Great Egret

Thursday, 6 March 2014

The Great Back Yard Bird Count: Day 2

Day 2: The GBBC.

I started early on day 2 and ventured to the southern and eastern parts of the island.  My first stop was Oistins in the parish of Christ Church.


Oistins is one place on the island where you are sure to see seabirds during their migration, but not at this time of the year.  What I saw at Oistins though, were shorebirds, mainly Sanderlings and Ruddy Turnstones, Cattle Egrets, Grackles and a few seed eaters.  Oistins is also known for its large number of Feral Rock Pigeons and Red Jungle fowls.  From Oistins my next stop was Chancery Lane Swamp.

Chancery Lane

The surprise at Chancery Lane for me was not seeing any ducks.  Over a number of weeks, birders on the island were monitoring a number of duck species at this location.  One of the reasons for their absence could be the falling water levels. Never the less, I recorded 15 species there, including a Great Blue and a Little Blue Heron.  From there it was on to my next stop The WSR.

Woodbourne Shorebirds Refuge

This stop was probably the best of all for my weekend.  I was able to record a lifer, a bird which I was trying to record from last year -the Yellow Crowned Night Heron.  I saw two in the back swamp with a juvenile Black Crowned.  I remain at the WSR for a hour, recording twenty-nine species.  My last stop for the day was just a few miles from WSR.

Congo Road

At Congo Road St. Philip I recorded ten species of birds in just fifteen minutes. The highest count -119 Least Sandpipers. This is the only location at which I founded Black Bellied Plovers. These maybe part of a flock that winters there annually. It was good to see the water levels at The Congo Road were holding steady so it should offer good birding during the dry season.

This was my last stop for the day. Stay tune for Days 3&4