Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The Northern Trip


It has been a while since I was out birding and I was eagerly looking forward to this northern trip.  At the end of September I was sitting on ninety-one birds for the year and coming to the end of October it remained unchanged.  I was sure that by the end of the day I would at least record one bird, a Godwit.  For the past week, two Godwits were hanging around one of the swamps in the north; this would be a new year-bird for me.  The prospect of recording migrating warblers at their main landfall location, Harrison’s Point, was also adding to the excitement for the trip.

Harrison’s Point

I was on my way at 5:30am to meet Edward Massiah at Harrison’s Point (HP) at 5:45am; with a 30-35 minute drive ahead of me I knew I was going to be late.  When I reached HP at about 6:00am Edward was already there and we both began a search of the foliage for these tiny birds.  We worked our way north to the lighthouse recording mainly common birds such as Yellow Warblers which were singing sweetly, Grey Kingbirds, Shiny Cowbirds and Antillean-crested Hummingbirds to mention a few.  Flying above our heads back and forth were Barn and Cliff Swallows.  On reaching the lighthouse I noted a number of Swallows were sitting on the powerline to the east and I went for a closer look.  As I came to the powerline, a flock of birds flushed from a grass field just in front of me.  The flight calls of these birds (clink clink, in single notes) were new, but straight away I knew that they were Bobolinks.  It was a small flock of about sixteen birds feeding on grass seeds and I was able to get a few photos.  Bobolinks were my 122nd Barbados lifer and my 92nd species for the year.  It was about this time that we were joined by Dr. John Webster and Mr. Richard Roach, both of them made their way to see and photograph the bobolinks.  

John told us of a Blackpoll Warbler he saw just a few minutes previously so I went off in search of it.  
Blackpoll Warbler
I have been practicing my Pishing for a couple months now and it works well with the common birds now I have to see if it will work with these migrants.  I found what I thought was a good location, an opening among the trees and started my calls.  Straight away I drew the interest of a few birds, one of them being… yes, a Blackpoll Warbler.  That became my 93rd bird for the year.  We left Harrison’s Point at 7:50am for our next location at Bright Hall for the Godwit.

Bright Hall

American Wigeon
This was my first visit to this location for the year and it was clear to see that this wet area was also suffering from the ongoing droughts.  There were many shorebirds on the mudflats and wadding in the low water.  A few ducks were also there but as I scanned the area, it was clear to see the Godwit was no longer there.  However eight Blue-winged Teals and an American Wigeon were present, which I tried to photograph.  Stilt and Pectoral Sandpipers were also there busy searching for food.  That was about it, so I moved on to my final stop at Greenland.


This irrigation pond at Greenland, St. Andrew is one of the few wet areas showing little or no effect from this prolonged drought.  This pond is deep and rarely attracts dabbling ducks, such as Teals, which are the main type of migrating ducks we see.  It does not have much of a mudflat and for that reason does not attract many shorebirds.  It attracts divers like Grebes, Masked and Ruddy ducks etc. but I visited because it was on my route to home.  I was surprised to see a Yellow-billed Cuckoo as I walked in.  Another surprise was to see that the Ruddy Duck I first recorded in September was still there.  The family of three Grebes who live in the pond was nosily making their presence known.  I did not see the forth one which I first noted last month.  This may have been a migrant which had moved on.

At the end of that northern excursion I claimed one lifer, Bobolink and a year bird (Blackpoll Warbler).  I missed the Godwit but hopefully one is still around and just moved to a different location.  It was a pleasant outing and I look forward to doing it again.  

List of the birds seen during the trip

1.       American Wigeon - Anas americana
2.       Blue-winged Teal - Anas discors
3.       Ruddy Duck - Oxyura jamaicensis
4.       Pied-billed Grebe - Podilymbus podiceps
5.       Magnificent Frigatebird - Fregata magnificens
6.       Snowy Egret - Egretta thula
7.       Cattle Egret - Bubulcus ibis
8.       Common Gallinule - Gallinula galeata
9.       Semipalmated Plover - Charadrius semipalmatus
10.   Spotted Sandpiper - Actitis macularius
11.   Greater Yellowlegs - Tringa melanoleuca
12.   Lesser Yellowlegs - Tringa flavipes
13.   Stilt Sandpiper - Calidris himantopus
14.   Least Sandpiper - Calidris minutilla
15.   White-rumped Sandpiper - Calidris fuscicollis
16.   Pectoral Sandpiper - Calidris melanotos
17.   Semipalmated Sandpiper - Calidris pusilla
18.   Wilson's Snipe - Gallinago delicata
19.   Scaly-naped Pigeon - Patagioenas squamosa
20.   Common Ground-Dove - Columbina passerina
21.   Zenaida Dove - Zenaida aurita
22.   Yellow-billed Cuckoo - Coccyzus americanus
23.   Green-throated Carib - Eulampis holosericeus
24.   Antillean Crested Hummingbird - Orthorhyncus cristatus
25.   Caribbean Elaenia - Elaenia martinica
26.   Gray Kingbird - Tyrannus dominicensis
27.   Black-whiskered Vireo - Vireo altiloquus
28.   Caribbean Martin - Progne dominicensis
29.   Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica
30.   Cliff Swallow - Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
31.   Yellow Warbler - Setophaga petechia
32.   Blackpoll Warbler - Setophaga striata
33.   Bananaquit - Coereba flaveola
34.   Black-faced Grassquit - Tiaris bicolor
35.   Barbados Bullfinch - Loxigilla barbadensis
36.   Bobolink - Dolichonyx oryzivorus
37.   Carib Grackle - Quiscalus lugubris
38.   Shiny Cowbird - Molothrus bonariensis