Monday, 25 July 2016

Red Red Knot

Red Knot in Breeding plumage

No bird epitomizes the drastic change that takes place in birds during breeding season than the Red Knot (Calidris canutus) .  This bird completely transforms from a drab grey and white, its non-breeding colour seen during the months of September to April, into a fiery reddish colour plumage during its breeding season which is during the months of May to August.  The two times I have seen this bird here in Barbados was first in 2014 in the month of November and 2015 in the month of September, both in its non-breeding plumage, but for the first time on our shores, I was privileged to see one in breeding plumage.
Red Knot in non-breeding plumage
The red knot is a medium-sized shorebird measuring 9 to 10 inches.  It breeds in the Canadian Arctic and winters in South America.  Red Knots are one of the many shorebirds whose population is in decline because of loss of habitat, climate change, human developments and over harvesting of its main food source, Horse-shoe Crabs.  This caused it to receive special protection as a threatened species and put efforts in motion to stop the decline.  Let us hope that all efforts to save these birds are successful. 

Thursday, 14 July 2016

The 2016 Southern Migration Season

Mallard X @ Lears Gap, St. Michael
July 1st is traditionally considered the start of the southern migration season among local birders and so far it is proving to be exciting.  The rains are here and with heavy rainfalls, ponds and wet areas were created and replenished.  The hunting season is also due to start tomorrow, July 15th and the preparation and flooding of these man-made wetlands provides additional attraction to the migrators, but sadly many will not survive the experience.   
The first sign that the migration was on its way was the sighting of the first migratory shorebirds for the season, a Pectoral and Spotted Sandpiper.  Both birds were seen on the 6th of the month.  I had a surprise on July 9th when I saw a large duck swimming in a pond created by three days of rainfall. From the photos I took it was concluded that it was a hybrid Mallard.  It was even more surprising when another Mallard (hybrid?) was seen on the 12th along with a Red Knot in breeding plumage. Knots in their reddish breeding plumage and Mallards, are very rare for the island.  On July 13th, a report of a Roseate Spoonbill was heard, but this is yet to be confirmed. This bird was spotted east of the island and efforts are being made to locate it.

It is unbelievable that this much excitement is being generated with the 2016 Southern migration season just beginning.  If it continues like this, I will be one happy birder with plenty to blog about.

 Stay tuned!
A rarity to Barbados a Red Knot in Breeding Plumage @ Chancery Lane Swamp

PS. I saw the Red Knot at Chancery Lane on the afternoon of July 13th. This bird brings my 2016 checklist to 79 species for the year.