Saturday, 2 April 2016

The Birds of Greenland 2015/16

The pond at Greenland

The low rainfall that affected the island in 2015 and so far into 2016 has caused the loss of many of the wet areas which depend on rainwater as its source.  Places such as Bayfield Pond, the home of the masked ducks, and most of the northern ponds such as Chance Hall, Hope Pond and most of the private hunting swamps are now mostly dry.  The deeper ponds, such as Greenland Irrigation catchment, are suffering from low water levels, thus providing easy access to the underwater vegetation enjoyed by many species of birds especially dabbling ducks.  In 2015/16 these ducks rushed to this St. Andrew wet area like I have never seen before.

My tally of uncommon birds to this location for 2015/16 are:

  • 9 species of ducks; Blue and Green-winded Teals, American and Eurasian Wigeons, Ringed-necked Ducks, Lesser Scaups, Northern Pintail, Ruddy Duck and Masked Ducks.
  • 2 species of coots; Caribbean and American Coots.
  • 1 species of warblers; Northern Waterthrust.  

This may seem like a small thing but to get a clearer picture of the role this pond played during 2015 and continues to play during the 2016 migration period take a look at the statistics.

The Numbers

I first visited Greenland on July 29th and then again on August 1st, 2013 at the height of the Big Year that brought this blog to life.  On those occasions only one bird mentioned above, namely a Masked Duck, was seen.
I visited the location twice in 2014 during the months of October and November, deep in the southern (winter) migration period.  On those visits I did not record any migratory ducks, coots or warblers that were uncommon to this location.
The earlier part of 2015 followed suit with 2013 and 2014 but as the southern migration commenced, as early as September I recorded a female Ruddy Duck.  While I did not expect to see this species of duck here I was not altogether surprised as it was the type of habitat this bird enjoys, but I was more surprised to find fifty-four Blue-winged Teals during November.
As the northern (spring) migration gets on its way, most of our waterfowls have started to make their exodus to start a new generation of globe trotters.

The peak numbers from November to April:

  • Blue-winged Teals – 109 birds
  • Ring-necked Ducks -  17 birds
  • Lesser Scaups – 4 birds
  • American Wigeons – 3 birds
  • Green-winged Teal – 2 birds
  • Eurasian Wigeon – 1 bird
  • Northern Pintail – 1 bird
  • Ruddy Duck – 1 bird
  • Masked Duck – 1 bird
  • Caribbean Coot – 2 birds
  • American Coot – 1 bird
  • Northern Waterthrust-1 bird
  • Yellow-billed Cuckoo – 1 bird
  • White-winged Tern – 1 bird

While it was good to see this assortment of birds congregating at this location the circumstances that mostly drove them here is one I would like to see an end to.  Here is hoping for rain rain rain and more rain!   For the island really needs it and the birds do too. 

Photograph of birds seen at Greenland between November 2015 and April 2016
Caribbean Coots x2
Caribbean Coot
Eurasian Wigeon Drake
Blue-winged Teal
American and Eurasian Wigeons