Monday, 13 October 2014

Another October at Harrison's Point



The month of October found me at the same location looking for the same bird, but unlike last year, this year I found it.  I have recorded a Blackpoll Warbler at Harrison’s Point St. Lucy. (Click here for last year’s search).  This year I was sure that if this bird visited the island I would see it and I did.  From mid September I started tracking the Blackpoll migration out of North America using the online real time checklist program found at ebird.org. Using the tools Species Map and Explore Data under the “Explore Data” tag on the website, I was able to have real time information on the location of the birds.  On October 3rd I saw that Puerto Rico recorded a sighting and I knew it would only be a matter of days before the birds would be in our area.  The next question was, would the Blackpolls alight on the island at its well documented first contact area, Harrison’s Point?  Or would it fly over the island to its wintering ground in South America?  My guess was that it would depend on the weather.

Blackpoll Warbler

On October 9th Barbados had the weather; well mainly the northern part of Barbados had it.  It was rare, for me, to see such contrasting weather conditions on this small island which is just 21 miles/33.79 km from north to south.  The south of the island was hot, bright and sunny with blue skies, but as you travelled north you were confronted with an angry looking cloud, dark and grey, threatening rain and punctured by the flashes of lightning and the roaring of thunder.  I figured this was perfect conditions for birds to come to ground, so the first chance I got, I took off to Harrison’s Point to take a look.  Harrison’s Point is a very lonesome location; it is not the best or safest place to be alone. So my plan was to drive in, scan the trees near the road, turn around and head back out in less than a minute and that’s what I did.  As I was driving out, a bird jumped out of the low stubs and into the road in front of me.  I stopped and started taking photographs of this strange bird.  I took a photo with my cell phone of the bird in the view finder of my camera and posted it on the local Bird Alert Net for identification.  The response… Setophaga striatain other words the Blackpoll Warbler.  I met Dr. John Webster later at Harrison’s Point where in an hour we recorded 16 species including 2 Blackpoll Warblers, 1 Yellow-billed Cuckoo and a Northern Waterthrush.
Northern Waterthrust
photograph by Dr J Webster

Blackpoll Warbler


So after two years of searching I have recorded the Blackpoll Warbler as a lifer.

Barn Swallow at Harrison's Point

Blackpoll Warbler

Blackpoll Warbler
Barn Swallow