Friday, 25 April 2014

Third Weekend of April Birding Excursions

The third week of April was a wonderful birding week.  I added one more bird to my life count and two to my year count.  For the island of Barbados, our avian species count went up by one, now making it 266 species. 

Friday April 18, 2014

Oistins , Christ Church

My first stop on this beautiful morning was at Oistins, the small town in the south coast parish of Christ Church.  The reason for stopping there was to investigate the report of a Ruddy Turnstone
whose legs became entangled in what was believed to be the remnant of fishing net. I arrived there at about 6am and noted the customary birds for that location for this time of year. Some of the birds on the beach were Sanderlings, Ruddy Turnstones, Cattle Egrets and the ever present Rock Pigeons, just to mention a few, but the highlight of the morning was to watch and photograph five Laughing Gulls feeding and interacting  with each other. This was the closest I had ever been able to get to this bird.  After an unsuccessful search for the Ruddy Turnstone with the net on its feet, I moved on to my main reason for being out birding that morning – Red-Billed Tropicbirds.

Click this link to see photographs from the 3rd Weekend in April 

Green Point, St. Philip

The Red-billed Tropicbirds breed on the rugged South and East coast of the island but this bird, which spends most of its life at sea, has always been a favorite of mine. So when reports of sighting Red-billed Tropicbirds were raised I made time to go and see it.  To reach the coast line at Green Point, I had to navigate a maze of houses and roads. It was about a mile off the main highway and its coast line was Rugged because of the constant battering of the Atlantic Ocean.  I was unsure of where to start looking but as I walked to the cliff looking over the sea I saw the bird. With its white plumage and its elongated central tail feather, this was unmistakably the bird I came to see – The Red-billed Tropicbird.   However it quickly disappeared in the glare of the sun and that was the last I saw of it. I spent over an hour searching the cliffs and the sea for the birds but to no avail.  I saw Caribbean Martins going in and out of holes in the cliffs, no doubt nesting or preparing to nest, Grassland Yellow Finches and Black-faced Grassquits but no other sightings of our star birds.  I will definitely be paying another visit to Green Point.

 Click this link to see photographs from the 3rd Weekend in April

The New Bird in Town

Later that day Dr. John Webster and Edward Massiah met at a private residence located on the border of the parishes of St. Philip and St. John to observe and photograph one of the most exciting additions to the local avian species. A bird no one expected to be this far south.   The bird is the White–crowned Pigeon. The discovery was made by the keen eyes of the master of the residence when the bird came to his bird bath for water, along with some Scaly-nape Pigeons. This discovery was made known to us by a local historian and birder Dr. Karl Watson on April 9th. From then, a cat and mouse game was played with this bird in an effort to see and photograph it.  Finally, on April 18th, Dr. Webster and Edward Massiah were finally able to see and photograph the bird.  I am hoping to be able to see and photograph this rarity to our shores in the coming week before it moves on.  So stay tuned for the photographs.
The White-crowned Pigeon, Patagioenas leucocephala, is about 13-14”, the same size and shape of the Scaly-naped Pigeon, dark grey with a white crown.  

Click this link to see photographs from the 3rd Weekend in April 

Sunday April 20, 2014

Six Men’s Bay St. Peter

It was a dark and gloomy morning with threats of rain all around. As I pulled into the car park of the fishing village at Six Men’s, my goal was to see and photograph for the first time an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull.  This gull, a vagrant to the island, was first spotted by birder and photographer Richard Roach. The tide was high and the sea looked angry. The sandy beach in front of the car park, where Sanderlings would have been busy looking for food was now replaced by waves pounding against the foundation well of the car park.  These conditions made me more protective of my camera, but were ideal for gulls. Laughing Gulls were plentiful, flying over the surf, swooping down to feed, amassing on the water break and boats off shore. It was on one of those boats off shore that I first saw the Lesser Black-backed Gull. He was standing on the top proudly preening his white breast feathers. I took up a better position to photograph the Laughing Gulls feeding close to the shore and then the rain came. I ran for cover under one of the stalls just in time to see the Lesser Black-backed fly by.  I took out my camera and started to shoot this beautiful bird as it made a series of fly bys. I was at Six Men’s Bay for about forty-five minutes before having to leave to fulfill a commitment.
So that was my weekend. I am hoping to be able to see and photograph White-crowned Pigeons in the coming weeks. I will also be going back to Green Point sometime this week to look for the Tropicbirds. Hope you had fun birding last weekend like I did.

Click this link to see photographs from the 3rd Weekend in April

 Here is the list of birds recorded.

Common Name
Scientific Name
Coereba flaveola
Barbados Bullfinch
Loxigilla barbadensis
Black-faced Grassquit
Tiaris bicolor
Carib Grackle
Quiscalus lugubris
Caribbean Martin
Progne dominicensis
Cattle Egret
Bubulcus ibis
Common Ground-Dove
Columbina passerina
Eared Dove
Zenaida auriculata
Eurasian Collared-Dove
Streptopelia decaocto
Green Heron
Butorides virescens
Grassland Yellow-Finch
Sicalis luteola
Gray Kingbird
Tyrannus dominicensis
Laughing Gull
Leucophaeus atricilla
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Larus fuscus
Magnificent Frigatebird
Fregata magnificens
Red-billed Tropicbird
Phaethon aethereus
Rock Pigeon
Columba livia
Ruddy Turnstone
Arenaria interpres
Calidris alba
Zenaida Dove
Zenaida aurita