Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Bye 2015

Alpine Swift
2015 was a good birding year for the island of Barbados with a total recorded sighting of over one hundred and fourteen (114) species of birds.  One of the most exciting birds for that year was an Alpine Swift (Apus melba), which was seen at Salters, in the central parish of St. George.  This represented only the fourth sighting for the island.  Another was Purple Herons (Ardea purpurea), with two records for 2015, first recorded at The Woodbourne Shorebird Refuge (WSR) early in the year and later in September in the north of the island. These may have represented the fourth and fifth records for the island.    We also saw a few
Franklin's Gulls (Leucophaeus pipixcan), four at one time, this maybe only the second record.  Another bird that made its second appearance was a Striated Heron (Butorides striata), which was seen during the month of September at the local recycling plant and landfill (SBRC). The Eurasian aka Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus) was the only new addition to the growing avifauna of Barbados during 2015.

This year I recorded my highest species count of one hundred and five (105) species for a calendar year, since starting my birding in 2013.  I missed a few birds here and there but recorded twelve lifers in the process.  Dr. John Webster, who classified this year as his best since he started birding, ended the year with 110 species.

Bird of the Year

Bird of the Year
The bird of the year was an easy choice. At different times of the year any of the above mentioned species may have been candidates for Bird of the Year (BOY) but after November 5th only one bird was on the lips of local birders.  When quizzed on their top three birds for 2015, this bird topped the list of all birders asked.  So it is not surprising that the Eurasian Marsh Harrier, first seen by Dr. John Webster on November 5th in the northern parish of St. Philip, was for me the Bird of the Year for 2015.

The Mother of all Big Years

In January 2015 I started to follow the quest of Noah Strycker, through Audubon’s Birding without Borders, as he attempted to become the first person to see 5000 species of birds in one calendar year.  It was intriguing following his quest which started in the freezing water of Antarctica to forty one countries; including our Caribbean neighbour Jamaica.  He saw a whopping total of six thousand and forty-two (6042) different bird species.  Now that is what I call a Huge Year and birding without borders. Congratulations Noah!!  See highlights of his year in this short video here.

On to 2016

I am really planning to take it easy in 2016 but I have as a goal, moving my local lifers count from 126 to 135 species by the end of the year.  My bucket list of birds I am hoping to see includes Tri-coloured and Western Reef Heron, Purple Gallinule, Northern Harrier and Wilson’s Plover.  I will like to devote more time birding for Warblers during their peak periods as I believable we, the local birders, for one reason or another, don't pay that much attention to this area birding. So bye 2015 you were an exceptional year, on to 2016, what will you have in store for us? Only time will tell.

Our Mega-rarities for 2015

Striated Heron

Eurasian Marsh Harrier

Alpine Swift

Purple Herons

Franklin's Gull