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!