Friday, 24 April 2015

Not so Tough Birding

Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea) photograph by  John Daniel

Some days birding can be hard - cold mornings, hot days, wading through water and mud while fighting mosquitoes the size of grasshoppers, crawling on all fours through tall grass...  It calls for patience, stealth and a good sense of humour.  Why a good sense of humour you may ask?  This comes in handy when you endured the above and still did not get the bird, or it was flushed by one of your companions (not mentioning any names).

photograph by  John Daniel
And then there are those oh so few days when you awake from a peaceful slumber and look out your window to a rarity sitting a few feet away from you.  Tuesday 21st was one of those days for me.  It started when I decided to take a short cut home from work.  I was traveling eastward on a road locally known as Hangman Hill (I have no idea why it is called that) which is located in the central parish of St. Thomas.  This road is a link between two major highways and is in a state of disrepair, which caused me to drive at a pedestrian pace.  As I approached the last corner before exiting onto the highway I noticed a bright reddish bird sitting in the middle of the road.  I stopped the car and approached the bird but it flew into a field of grass on the right of the roadway.  The bird was a Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea). The vehicle which was driving behind me also stopped and we both took photos with our phones, (even though I had my Canon Camera with a 400mm lens, no card, but that is a different story).  I informed the lady driver of the name of the bird and explained how the bird happened to be here on the island. She was thrilled.

Scarlet Tanagers are 7” in size.  Non-breeding males and females are both yellowish green in colour but when there is love in the air and chicks to be made the males take on a Reddish/Scarlet colour with black wings and tail to attract the females.  This bird was on its way to North America after wintering in South America.

I needed to get a photograph of this bird but the other photographers were all unavailable so I called a close friend, who lived nearby, and he took the photographs I am sharing with you now, thanks John Daniel.

All photograph by  John Daniel

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Birding Five Islands in Six Days - Checklists

Total Lifers: 19

Total Species:50

St Lucia 19 Species 3 lifers

Laugh Gulls, Sandwich and Royal Terns
Sandwich Tern, Purple-throated Carib, Tropical Mockingbird, Magnificent Frigatebird, Little Blue Heron, Cattle Egret, Green Heron, Spotted Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Laughing Gull, Royal Tern, , Rock Pigeon, Common Ground-Dove, Zenaida Dove, Antillean Crested Hummingbird, Gray Kingbird, Bananaquit, Lesser Antillean Bullfinch and Carib Grackle.
Click here for photos

Dominica 26 Species 6 Lifers

Brown Pelican
Brown Pelican, Broad-winged Hawk, Rufous-throated Solitaire, Brown Trembler and the Plumbeous Warbler, Smooth-billed Ani, Brown Booby, Scaly-breasted Munia. Laughing Gull, Royal Tern, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Black Swift, Caribbean Martin, Magnificent Frigatebird, Antillean Crested Hummingbird, Caribbean Elaenia, Gray Kingbird, Tropical Mockingbird, Yellow Warbler, Bananaquit, Black-faced Grassquit, Lesser Antillean Bullfinch, Carib Grackle, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Black-whiskered Vireo and Green Heron.
Click here for photos

St. Maartins 19 Species 3 Lifers

Pearly-eyed Thrasher
White-cheeked Pintail, American Kestrel, House Sparrow, Magnificent Frigatebird, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Common Gallinule, Black-necked Stilt, Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs, Carib Grackle, Brown Booby, Brown Pelican, Laughing Gull, Rock Pigeon, Zenaida Dove, American Kestrel, Gray Kingbird and Pearly-eyed Thrasher.
Click here for photos

Puerto Rico 10 Species 4 Lifers

White-winged Dove
White-winged Dove, Monk Parakeet, Northern Mockingbird, Greater Antillean Grackle, Magnificent Frigatebird, Brown Pelican, Rock Pigeon, Green-throated Carib, Caribbean Martin and  Bananaquit.
Click here for photos

St Thomas USVI  10 Species

Green-throated Carib
Magnificent Frigatebird, Laughing Gull, Scaly-naped Pigeon, White-winged Dove, Zenaida Dove, Green-throated Carib, Antillean Crested Hummingbird, Pearly-eyed Thrasher, Bananaquit  and House Sparrow.
Click here for photos

Caribbean Pelagic 3 Species  1 Lifer

Brown Booby
Sooty Tern, Laughing Gull and Brown Booby

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Birding Five Islands in Six Days - St. Thomas USVI

Green-throated Carib (Eulampis holosericeus)
Antillean crested Hummingbird (Orthorhyncus cristatus)
Antillean-crested Hummingbird 
Laughing Gulls (Leucophaeus atricilla)

White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica)
Scaly-naped Pigeon (Patagioenas squamosa)
Pearly-eyed Thrasher (Margarops fuscatus)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

Birding Five Islands in Six Days - Puerto Rico

My birding in Puerto Rico was limited to three hour at the port in San Juan. I started at 6am.
Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)
Northern Mockingbird - the white patch on the wings is a helpful field mark to ID this bird
Greater Antillean Grackle (Quiscalus niger) - larger than Carib Grackles but just as noisey
Monk Parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus)
White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica)
A closer look at the White-winged Dove
Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens)
Caribbean Martin (Progne dominicensis)
Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola) this one with a grey throat

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Birding Five Islands in Six Days - St. Maartens

Here are some of the birds I saw in St. Maarten.

Pearly-eyed Thrasher (Margarops fuscatus) a common bird on the island
Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola) the ones for this island had an grey throat
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)

Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster)

Brown Booby fishing in the Great Bay Port
Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus)

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)

Heard this guy before I saw him in a car park near the Great Salt Pond

White-cheeked Pintails (Anas bahamensis) @ the Great Salt Pond

Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)(M)

House Sparrow (M)
Laughing Gulls (Leucophaeus atricilla)
Caribbean Ameiva Lizard (Ameiva plei)

This guy was big!!

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Birding Five Islands in Six Days - Dominica

The beautiful island of Dominica provided the best birding of the entire trip.

The hill and mountians of Dominica
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)

A closer look at the Brown Pelican 
The ever present Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens)

Black Swift (Cypseloides niger)?

Black Swift (Cypseloides niger)?
Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)

Tropical Mockingbird (Mimus gilvus)

Lesser Antillean Bullfinch (Loxigilla noctis)

Brown Trembler (Cinclocerthia ruficauda)

Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus)
Antillean Crested Hummingbird (Orthorhyncus cristatus)

Smooth-billed Ani (Crotophaga ani)

A Closer look at the Smooth-billed Ani 

Scaly-breasted Munia - (Lonchura punctulata)