Thursday, 21 April 2016

April's Eastern Trip

Short-billed Dowitcher - Limnodromus griseus
It was good to be heading out on an early morning birding trip once again; I have not done this in over a month.  My journey began at about 5:30am.  On hearing a report the day before of shorebirds aplenty at one of the wet areas in the eastern part of the island, I made this my main stop.  Birding was so lean over the past few weeks that seeing a few shorebirds on the ground was exciting.  As I got on my way the birds I saw while driving were busy, Carib Grackles were searching for food along the road and in nearby fields, Cattle Egrets were gracefully moving from roost to their first feeding stop for the day.  Some were harassed by Grey Kingbirds as they flew past over parcels of air space marked out as their territory.  I was distracted by the sunrise over the misty Redland’s Valley and replaced the super telephoto lens on my camera with a wide angled one and spent a few minutes capturing this moment.  I was then off to my intended stop, Conga Road.

Congo Road

Least Sandpiper - Calidris minutilla
I arrived at Congo Road at 6:30am. The sun was now fully awake and the day promised to be as beautiful as the day before.  There were many shorebirds and a few herons wading in the low water and mudflats as I drove in.  Straight away I noticed a group of Least Sandpipers and two Greater Yellowlegs probing close by.  My target bird was a Short-billed Dowitcher which was reported as molting into breeding plumage. While Short-Billed Dowitchers are common during southern (winter) migration when its plumage is greyish in colour, they are not as common during the northern (summer) trek when they are more colourful.  It was only near the end of my visit that I located this bird and I was able to get some pleasing photographs. Other shorebirds seen in numbers were Semipalmated Plovers and Sandpipers, Black-bellied (Grey) Plovers and a flock of Shiny Cowbirds.  The males were making a busy display hoping to land an adoring mate.  I spent close to an hour at Congo Road and registered twenty-three species with the SB Dowitcher being a first for the year.

Red-billed Tropicbird

Caribbean Martin - Progne dominicensis
My next stop provided me with my second target bird for the morning, the Red-billed Tropicbird.  It nests along the rugged east coast of the island at this time of the year.  Unlike the SB Dowitcher which I saw at the end of my visit to Congo Road, I saw this bird as soon as I drove into park my car but did not see it again after that.  I spent close to forty-five minutes sea watching and only saw a few Caribbean Martins, who also nest in the cavities along the seawall.  I registered six species with the RB Tropicbird being a first for the year. 

My tally for this Eastern April trip was twenty – seven species including two first for the year.  As the northern migration moves into full swing I will be hoping for a few warblers to add to my life list. You can keep track of my year list here.

Here is a list of the birds and images from that day

Red-billed Tropicbird - Phaethon aethereus
Great Egret - Ardea alba
Little Egret - Egretta garzetta
Snowy Egret - Egretta thula
Cattle Egret - Bubulcus ibis
Green Heron - Butorides virescens
Common Gallinule - Gallinula galeata
Black-bellied Plover - Pluvialis squatarola
Semipalmated Plover - Charadrius semipalmatus
Greater Yellowlegs - Tringa melanoleuca
Least Sandpiper - Calidris minutilla
Semipalmated Sandpiper - Calidris pusilla
Short-billed Dowitcher - Limnodromus griseus
Scaly-naped Pigeon - Patagioenas squamosa
Common Ground-Dove - Columbina passerina
Zenaida Dove - Zenaida aurita
Eared Dove - Zenaida auriculata
Green-throated Carib - Eulampis holosericeus
Caribbean Elaenia - Elaenia martinica
Gray Kingbird - Tyrannus dominicensis
Caribbean Martin - Progne dominicensis
Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica
Grassland Yellow-Finch - Sicalis luteola
Black-faced Grassquit - Tiaris bicolor
Barbados Bullfinch - Loxigilla barbadensis
Carib Grackle - Quiscalus lugubris
Shiny Cowbird - Molothrus bonariensis