Wednesday, 1 April 2015

State of my Birding: First Quarter 2015

Purple Heron

I would describe my birding for the first three months of the year, as uneventful, but a few highlights can be mentioned.  At the end of March, my year count stood at 62 bird species, three of which were lifers, moving my life count to 117.  The status of my birding trips moved from very active in January to barely birding in the month of March.  Here are some of the highlights for each month.


I started the year full of enthusiasm after an outstanding 2014.  I had already recorded forty species after the first seven days and by the end of the month fifty four species.  That fifty four includes one lifer, an American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla).  The bird was spotted while birding in the woods of Turners Hall on January 4th. That excursion into those densely vegetative woods in search of warblers not only added a new phrase to my birding vocab, ‘warblers neck’, but it also got me hooked on birding for warblers.  It is the most challenging type of birding I have done so far, but still very rewarding.  I visited Turners Hall on other weekends during the month.  Some of the noteworthy birds for January other than the Redstart were some West Indian Whistling Ducks (Dendrocygna arborea), an American Wigeon (Anas americana), a Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis) and an Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga).


Red-billed Tropicbird

Even though I recorded two lifers in the month of February, one will be my bird of the quarter.  This bird could even be my bird of the year.  Of course I am speaking about the Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea) which I eventually recorded on February 7th.  The other lifer was a Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea) seen at Turners Hall Woods on February 8th.  The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) was another highlight for the month. This was the second year that I participated in this international bird count.  Over the three days, I recorded forty four species of birds.  Another big occasion was the arrival of the Red-billed Tropicbirds to their nesting grounds in the cliffs on the South-East coast of the island in late February.  Other notable bird sightings were a Caribbean Coot (Fulica caribaea) and Ring-necked ducks (Aythya collaris).


Peregrine Falcon

My birding was reduced tremendously during the month of March because of a number of commitments I wanted to fulfill.  I was unable to bird during the weekends, but made a few stops during the week at a few birding areas.  The Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) was the star bird of this month with photographs appearing on Facebook from a few persons who saw the bird, this generated much hype.  People were even surprised to know that this Raptor and others visited the island yearly.  The other birders and I were happy to share information about our migrating birds.


Caribbean Coot
The first quarter of 2015 did not throw up many surprises in terms of birding.  In 2014 at the end of March I had sixty four species registered (to my current sixty-two), so I am basically on par.  The birds I missed thus far were a Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola), a Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea), Bank Swallows (Riparia riparia) and a Green Winged Teal (Anas carolinensis).  However with the northern (spring) migration here, anything can pop up, so stay tuned.