Friday, 28 October 2016

October at Harrison's Point

Blackpoll Warbler - Setophaga striata

For most weekends during the month of October the birders on the island usually turn their attention to the decommissioned US Naval Base, at Harrison’s Point (HP) in the northern parish of St. Lucy.  We were not there to reminisce on the glorious or darker days of this location, or to enjoy the beautiful view of the northern coastline, not even to explore the impressive lighthouse which now stands in a state of disrepair.  We were there for one reason, birding, and specifically birding for migrating warblers, with the star being the Blackpoll Warbler.

The first couple weekends we visited, starting from October 1st, was uncharacteristically quiet.  No calling of Yellow Warblers, Black-whiskered Vireos or Caribbean Elaenias.  There were also no Yellow-billed Cuckoos sighted.  What was also noticeably missing, which may have been the reason for the seemingly low number of birds in the woods at Harrison’s Point, were butterflies, moths and caterpillars which is the main food source of these  migrating birds at the Point.

This was not the case when I visited on October 22nd with Dr. John Webster.  I arrived at HP just before 6:00 am.  Outside was very overcast with dark threatening clouds hanging overhead.  As soon as I parked and exited the car I could hear birds calling around me but was attracted to a strange call just behind the car.  There, forging close to the ground were a pair of Blackpoll Warblers.  It looked like an adult searching for bugs and feeding a noisy juvenile.  I tallied six birds all forging close to the ground before I moved to a different area.  
I was happy to finally see the warblers at Harrison’s Point and hope we see more as the month goes on.