Friday, 23 May 2014

Second Week of May Birding

What a week of birding the second week of May turned out to be. In that week I recorded two lifers, one of which was a threatened West Indian endemic bird.

Sunday May 11,2014

I was invited by Dr. John Webster to accompany him and Edward Massiah to the private residence of a man who said he is having regular visits from a flock of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks (Dendrocygna autumnalis) (BBWD)and he also noted that among that flock is a West Indian Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna arborea)(WIWD). The West Indian Whistling Duck is a threatened West Indian endemic bird and a vagrant to Barbados.  We arrived at the location around 6:30am. It was an old sugar plantation with a lot of trees, some fruit bearing, and others flowering plants.  The owner of the property met us in front of his home, one of the original plantation buildings which he has restored.  He also boasted an impressive collection of local antiques which had us reminiscing on days of old. He led us to a large veranda which looked to a pond and there it was, the bird we came to see, the West Indian Whistling Duck.  It was not difficult to pick the WIWD from among the BBWD. It was a taller bird and sported distinctive black and white markings on its side. I recorded 16 bird species which included over 80 BBWDs, Eared Doves and Antillean Crested Hummingbirds.
The Antillean Crested Humming Birds were an unexpected treat. They were attracted to the flowering Ornamental Banana Trees planted around the veranda, what a treat for the eyes and the camera lens.  

Tuesday May 13, 2014

I am always birding. While walking, driving, eating or working, simply because birds are all around and you can’t help but to see and admire them. Even though I am not an experienced birder I know the common birds for this island well, and am very quick to notice something unusual. This was the case on May 13 while visiting a client in the small fishing town of Oistins on the south coast of the island. When I got out of my car to go to the client I noticed this swallow type bird flying over head. Quickly I realized that there was something different about this bird. It wasn’t any of the two local common birds of that shape. Caribbean Martins were much bigger and darker in color, while Barn Swallow Juveniles, which is about the same size of this bird, does not have a white throat and chest band, plus I have never seen a Barn Swallow in this location or in coastal areas in general. As I walked to the client’s office I logged a description of the bird on the local bird alert net. The closest experienced birder that could make it to see the bird and ID it was on the West Coast, but he said that he would try to get to the south coast. I was happy to see on leaving the client’s office that the Bird was still there.  After work I made my way back to Oistins hoping to see the bird again.  When I arrived Dr. John Webster was busy with his camera in hand photographing the bird, which zoomed left and right just inches from his face at incredible speeds. We were able to ID the bird as a Bank Swallow - Riparia riparia.

Even during migration and a drought they are still exciting birds to be seen here in Barbados!