Wednesday, 7 October 2015

September! New Rarities Month?

In 2015, September is making a credible attempt to replace November as Rarity Month after putting up a number of rarities and even a few mega-rarities. 

The second day of the month set the tone for things to come. I was finally able to see up-close and photograph a bird, which I first saw flying high over St. Lucy, our most northern parish, in the latter part of August.  The bird was white, with black patches by its eyes and flew like a tern.  I was able to get a couple poor quality photographs before it disappeared. I shared the images with a few birders but we were unable to make a definitive identification.  I was about to give up on being able to ID this bird when two local birders, Dr. Webster and Mr. R. Roach, discovered a Gull-billed Tern, around the same area.  There was no doubt that this was the bird I saw earlier.  Even though we recorded this species here on the island in the last few years, in some quarters it is still considered a rarity. 

Three other birds were seen during September, some may differ on their status as rarities.  They were a Red Knots, a Grey Heron and a Glossy Ibis.  September was like the month for
Knots with confirmed sightings of two in the eastern parish of St. Philip and unconfirmed reports of a small group at a swamp in the parish of St. Lucy.  I was able to see and photograph one of the two in St. Philip.  I saw a Glossy Ibis while on the Highway 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 colour, decurved bill and the extended neck position synonymous with its flight.  The bird was next seen and photographed by R. Roach on September 13th in the parish of St. Lucy. The Grey Heron was an unexpected surprise.  I was on my way home from work one afternoon when I saw it in an irrigation pond in the parish of St. George.  This Eurasian heron is becoming a regular visitor to our shores, this being the second consecutive year it was recorded.  

The parish of St. Lucy continues to attract rarities with two Collard Plovers on September 2nd , a Fork-tailed Flycatcher, a lifer for me, on the 13th,  and the bird of the month (even though I did not get to see it), a juvenile Purple Heron, our second for the year.  The trend of rarities
continued right into the last weekend of the month, with two more bird sightings, one can even be considered a mega rarity.  First, on Saturday 26th, a quick stop at one of the irrigation ponds at Greenland, St. Andrew, turned up a single female Ruddy Duck and on the following day a Striated Heron was seen at the Mangrove Landfill in the parish of St. Thomas.  That sighting represented the second record of this species for the island.  This bird is a close relative to our Green Heron, locally known as a Gaulin, but while the Green heron's plumage is mostly brown the Striated one is grey.

The month of September was outstanding, can November measure up? Time will tell.

Here is the list of the rare birds seen in the month of September:

  1. Glossy Ibis - Plegadis falcinellu
  2. Grey Heron - Ardea cinerea
  3. Red Knot - Calidris canutus
  4. Fork-tailed Flycatcher - Tyrannus savanna
  5. Ruddy Duck - Oxyura jamaicensis
  6. Striated Heron - Butorides striata
  7. Collared Plover - Charadrius collaris x2
  8. Gull-billed Tern - Gelochelidon nilotica 
  9. Purple Heron - Ardea purpurea