The first half of the year was very dry. It was so dry that many of the major wet areas on the island had dried up. The Woodbourne Shorebird Refuge was not spared, for up until late October it was bone dry. On November 21st -22nd a trough system dumped in excess of 160mm of rain on the island. It filled to capacity all the wet areas on the island, providing conditions migrating ducks would enjoy. The WSR was not to be left out.
Sunday November 30
This was the day our country celebrated their independence from Britain. I received a call from a visiting birder, Glen Carmichael; he said he was at the WSR and that a number of different ducks were there including three Fulvous Whistling-Ducks (Dendrocygna bicolor). Fulvous would be a lifer for me and my 99th bird for the year so I arranged to meet him there.
The water levels at WSR were very high. Most of the trays were flooded; in some cases water exceeded the banks, forming one large lake. Glen was sitting in front of the Hutt, the monitoring building named after local Conservationist Captain M.B Hutt (1919-1998), his eyes glued to a flock of ducks sitting on a semi- submerged bank of one of the trays. Straight away I could see Black Bellied Whistling Ducks (Dendrocygna autumnalis) mostly juveniles, fifty plus Blue Winged Teals (Anas discors) and six Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis). He quickly turned my attention towards the observation tray, which is in front of the Hutt’s observation gallery looking to the east. Hidden in the grass, were the three Fulvous Whistling-Ducks, my 113th lifer and 99th bird species for 2014. The only question was, were these Fulvous duck migrants or were they the “zooed” ones (mentioned in previous posts) which are kept at two locations on the island. Edward Massiah and Dr. John Webster made quick checks at the locations and all the birds were present and accounted for. This confirmed the birds as being migrants.
Fulvous Whistling-Ducks are 18-21 inches in length, light brown plumage with dark brown wings and white stripes on the edges. These ducks were last recorded on the island, according to the book ‘Birds of Barbados’, on March 7th, 1998.