Monday, 20 June 2016

Bye Ocean!!

This update was taken from the Facebook page of the Barbados RSPCA 

A tremendous thank you to our wonderful boss, Mrs. Charmaine Hatcher. Last week a Great Shearwater Bird washed up on our shores. No one is certain how or why she ended up here. These birds spend their lives in the great oceans, only coming to land to breed.We are no experts on these birds, so quite a bit of research was done in short order. For the first few days Mrs. Hatcher had to force feed her. Despite having not eaten for God knows how long, her instinctual fear of humans was clearly displayed with her curved beak. It was fascinating to see this bird only after a few days pick up the routine feeding time and even became excited to see Charmaine during the morning feeds.
Charmaine would fetch her a five gallon container of sea water daily, to pour into a wading pool.
Lo and behold, this girl became so comfortable she began “diving” and fishing on her own. No more force feeding.
We were ecstatic!!!
She appeared strong enough to be released and this weekend was going to be her big day. A fishing vessel owned by a family member was going to be her ride out into deep water, saving her energy and time heading into the open ocean. 
On Friday morning our hearts sunk… overnight she had taken a most dreadful turn for the worse. We are completely baffled at the turn of this event.
We took her up to the surgery to stomach feed her. Even before we got started, she quietly passed away in Mrs Hatcher's arms.
Sometimes in life no matter how hard you try or how much you may want…you cannot save them all.
We, over the many years have painfully learned this.
Thank you for all your efforts and attempts to restore a balance in this girl’s life.
RIP “Ocean”

Sunday, 12 June 2016

A Pelagic Surprise

Our mystery bird as we first saw it
The island of Barbados is a dream location for many vacationers. Blue waters, white sand, beautiful people and world class hotels.  It seems though, that the birds are getting in on the action as well.  Do you remember the Peregrine I wrote about in 2014 that loves to stay at the Barbados Hilton? (See the post here) Well in 2016 he is back again but this time not alone, he has company, female company.  While staying in his usual suite on the Hilton sign, another visitor was also enjoying the hospitality of the Hotel’s lush surroundings.  This bird, a first for the island, was a Great Kiskadee. (See the post here).

 My 126th Barbados Lifer

mostly white underparts, brownish upperpart, black bills, pink legs
The bird which became my 126th Barbados lifer was not to be left out.  It was found walking around the entrance of a four star south coast hotel called Oceans 2 on Wednesday June 8th. The bird seemed unable to fly and was captured by hotel employees who then contacted Dr. John Webster to identify it.  Early the following day I met Dr. Webster at the hotel, both of us were surprised to see that the bird was a large pelagic bird.  Its upperparts were brownish, mostly white underparts, with a black cap, black bill, pink feet and a white rump.  We were able, with the help of field Guides, to identify the bird as a Greater Shearwater- Ardenna gravis.  The bird still appeared unable to fly but looked healthy and was very alert.   Dr. Webster took the bird to The RSPCA where it was thoroughly examined.  We were happy to hear it had no broken bones and that the vet would be holding it for observation for a couple of days, hopefully it will be able to fly by then.  

Greater Shearwater in Barbados

being examine by the Vet at RSPCA
Greater Shearwaters, at 19”  in length, are one of the two largest shearwaters found in the West Indies. (Helm Birds of the West Indies). These birds spend most of their lives at sea, breed on islands in the South Atlantic, they have migration routes which bring them close and through the West Indies, with peak periods in the month of June.  There were five records of Greater Shearwaters in Barbados and its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) before this one, this being only the second one recorded on land. (Birds of Barbados)

Hopefully I will be able to share photos of the Shearwater flying off into the sunset.  I would like to say thank you to the wonderful staff at Oceans 2 Hotel for catching the bird and keeping it safe, also to the staff at RSPCA for doing what they do best, help all creatures great and small and to Dr. Webster who is becoming the unofficial bird rescue guy on the island, a role which he performs without fanfare.  Keep it up guys!  

Here are a few images of the shearwater from Dr. John Webster’s IPhone. Enjoy!

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Five Year Birds for May

Willet-Tringa semipalmata
The rain that was promised in the month of May seems to be showing up as the month comes to an end. Will it stay as we enter the month of June which normally signals the start of the rainy season? I hope so but time will tell.  Surprisingly though, as I reminisce on my birding last month the stats do not look that bad.  I tallied fifty species for the month, thanks to the Global Big Day held on May 14th, five of which were first for the year, with two being considered rare birds.

Rare Birds  

Striated Heron - Butorides striata
The two birds that may be considered rare were a Striated Heron - Butorides striata and a Glossy Ibis - Plegadis falcinellus.  The Striated Heron is making its third appearance on the island since it was first sighted in July 2013. The other times were at the pond of the local recycling plant - SBRC  in September 2015 and this year. The Striated was seen on May 19th.

Glossy Ibis - Plegadis falcinellus
The Glossy Ibis was seen in the Northern Parish of St. Lucy.  This species is becoming a regular migrant to our shores with sightings in 2013, 14, 15 and now 2016.

Black Swift - Cypseloides niger
The other first for the year were Willet- Tringa semipalmata ,  Yellow-crowned Parrot - Amazona ochrocephala , thanks to the Global Big day, and Black Swift - Cypseloides niger.

As we go into what is traditionally the rainy season and another slow month, I am hoping the promised rain will come ushering in plenty of birds.  Do enjoy your birding!

You can follow my year count by clicking (here).

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Caribbean Birders Help Set New Global Big Day Record by Bird Caribbean

More than one hundred Caribbean birders participated in this year’s Global Big Day, helping to set a new world record of 6,299 species, as well as set a new Global Big Day record for the Caribbean itself! In order to break the old record, birders all over the world spent the 24 hours of May 14 observing and counting as many species as possible—jointly recording over 60% of all living birds in only one day and passing the old record by 141 species! 

BirdsCaribbean is the largest regional organization dedicated to the conservation of wild birds and their habitats in the insular Caribbean (including Bermuda, the Bahamas and all islands within the Caribbean basin).