Wednesday, 30 September 2015

September to Remember Continues and Continues ....

And it continues!! This September 2015 has been amazing so far.  After setting a goal of trying to attain seven new "year birds", I reached that goal half-way through the month. I then set a goal of ten species and in the last full week of September I reached and surpassed that goal.

Here are the birds I saw:
  • The Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus) was expected to be arriving at Harrison’s Point around this time, so it was not surprising to see and hear one when we visited that location on the 26th, the first sighting for the year.  These birds are 11-12 inches with greyish brown upperparts and white underparts.  The base of its bill is yellow and it has a yellow eye-ring. This is no doubt the first of many of these we will see in the coming months ahead. 
Ruddy Duck

  • A Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis) was a bird I had missed earlier in the year and was surprised when I saw one at Greenland, St. Andrew, also on the 26th.  This small diving duck was sitting quietly in the pond. 
Striated Heron

  • A Striated Heron (Butorides striata) seen at the Mangrove Landfill on September 27th represented the 2nd record for the island. This bird is a close relative to our Green Heron “Butorides virescens”, locally known as a Gaulin, but while that plumage is mostly brown in colour the plumage of the Striated Heron is grey.

The month of September is proving more productive than I could have ever imagined.  With this being the last day of the month, can I add any more birds to my count? Anything is possible in this September to Remember…

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

September to Remember Continues...

Two new "year birds”  on the afternoon of September 16th tied my September 2014 tally of seven bird species, while two more on Sunday  September 20th  set a new personal record as the September to remember continues.

The birds I saw were:

Buff-breasted Sandpiper 
  1. A Buff-breasted Sandpiper (Calidris subruficollis) which was first seen by Dr. Webster in St. Lucy earlier that day.  I was happy to see that it hung around as it became my 85th bird for the year.  Buff-breasted Sandpipers are 7-8 inches in length, Buff (yellowish-brown) allover hence the name, with a pointed, black bill, rounded head with long yellow legs.  These shorebirds prefer short grassy fields.
    Pectoral Sandpiper
  1.  A Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos) was seen on a flooded road at Vaucluse in the parish of St. Thomas on my way home after seeing the Buff-breasted Sandpiper. The bird was very busy feeding on earthworms along with a pair of Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes). Pectorals are 8-9.5 inches with Yellowish green bills and legs, mottled dark brown to black upperparts while their bellies are white and their breasts are heavily streaked.
    Western Sandpiper
  2. A single Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri) was seen on Sunday morning at the same location, Vaucluse, where I had seen the Pectoral Sandpiper just a few days earlier. These birds can easily be mistaken for Semipalmated and vice versa.  Something that I know oh so well, as it happened to me just last month when I mistook a juvenile Semipalmated with a relatively long bill, for a Western. 
    Common Tern
  3. Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) this medium size Tern was also seen on Sunday morning at Six Men’s Bay in the parish of St. Peter. This became my 88th year bird.   

With a few days remaining I am aiming for a final tally of ten new Year species for the month. Can I do it?  Time will tell but so far it continues to be a September to Remember.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

September to Remember

After a slow month of August, where I registered only two new birds for the year, September is trying to make up for it.  Already I have registered five new birds for the year with one being a lifer.  
The five birds are:

  1. American Golden-Plover ( Pluvialis dominica)which was observed late on the afternoon of September 2nd in St. Lucy.
  2. The Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) I saw this while I was on the Highway on the morning of September 8th.  The bird was not hard to identify as it flew towards me and directly over my car. I noted the dark color, decurved bill and the extended neck position synonymous with an Ibis in flight.  The bird was next seen and photographed by R. Roach on September 13th in the parish of St. Lucy.  Glossy Ibis are considered vagrants to Barbados.
  3. Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) was my second “first for the year” bird I saw on September 8th.  I saw the bird when I checked an irrigation pond on my way home from work.  At first I thought it was a Great Blue, but was not sure so I shared the images with fellow birders and it was Edward Massiah who pointed out that it was a Grey Heron.  He pointed out the white thighs, white headlights (white marks just in front of the eyes), black and white feathering down the plain grey neck.
  4. Red Knot (Calidris canutus) this was seen in the parish of St. Philip by Dr. J. Webster on September 9th.  He alerted the local birders of its presence and I was able to see it that afternoon.
    Photo by R. Roach
  5. Fork-tailed Flycatcher (Tyrannus savanna) a lifer for me, was seen on the morning of September 13th at Harrison’s Point in St. Lucy.  I had a clue that R. Roach and I would have seen something special on that day from the time I took out my camera to take my first shot for the day.  Caribbean Martins were sitting on the power line, but when I went to take my first shot, I realized that I had left my compact flash card at home.  No problem I thought, as I have a backup card, Not!!  That card was also not in the bag but sitting on my desk at home.  Within minutes of packing my equipment back into the car, the Fork-tailed Flycatcher flew overhead.  Luckily Richard was able to get a few shots before it disappeared for good.
With many days still left in this month I will be trying to better my 2014 September tally of seven birds. The Flycatcher was my best for the month so far but the month is still young so you never know what may turn up in this September to remember.

Friday, 11 September 2015

World Shorebird Day 2015

I did my part for World Shorebirds Day by joining in the global shorebirds count on September 6th. I registered four locations.  They were Oistins, Inch Marlow and Long Beach on the South Coast and the Woodbourne Shorebird Refuge (WSR) which was being affected adversely by the low rainfall which the island is experiencing this year.

Birding the South Coast 

Ruddy @ Oistin
I started my count in the popular Oistins area, the home of the world famous Friday Night Fish Fry.  This fishing complex not only attracts hundreds of tourist and locals alike, but also migrating shore and sea birds yearly.  I observed thirteen species of birds, three of which were shorebirds - Spotted Sandpipers (Actitis macularius), Semipalmated Plovers (Charadrius semipalmatus) and Ruddy Turnstones (Arenaria interpres) . (My Ebird's Checklist

My next stop along the South Coast was the surfing hotspot of Inch Marlow.  This location has registered its fair share of shorebirds including rarities.  On this occasion however, I was not that fortunate.  I recorded six species at Inch Marlow of which three were shorebirds.
 (My Ebird's Checklist)  
Whimbrel @ Silver Sands
My most productive stop of the morning was at Long Beach.  Here, various species of shorebirds were busy feeding on a buffet served up by the Sargassum Seamoss which is affecting beaches on the South and East Coast of the island.  I recorded twelve species of birds of which nine were shorebirds.
(My Ebird's Checklist)   
I got a bonus as I was traveling from Oistins to Inch Marlow.  I saw a Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) at De Action Man's Beach, Silver Rock.  This bird was wading in a small pond.

 Woodbourne Shorebird Refuge

Solitary Sandpiper @ WSR
For my final stop I traveled west away from the South Coast to the only shorebird sanctuary on the island, the Woodbourne Shorebird Refuge (WSR).  This year WSR, like the rest of the island is being affected by the low rainfall that was impacting the entire region.  It was not difficult to see the effects as you drove onto the property.  Only two of the trays still contained water and both of their levels were very low.  A few shorebirds were around, mostly Semipalmated Sandpipers (Calidris pusilla).  I observed thirteen species there. 


I was happy to be a part of the second World Shorebirds Day.  I was expecting to see more shorebirds than I did but with the island’s low rainfall it was understandable.  Thirteen species of shorebirds was registered in total with Ruddy Turnstones the most numerous. The  World Shorebirds Day is here to stay and I am looking forward to next years count.