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.