Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Six for November

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferous)

At the start of the month of November reaching 100 species of birds in Barbados for 2016 was looking difficult.  I needed seven more species, which normally would not have been a problem, but with a poor to average birding year I could not envision what these species would be.  Now at the end of the month and entering the last month of the year with just one more species needed it is looking possible.  Yes six species in November.  There were Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus) on the 1st, Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica) 4th, Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster) 19th, Killdeer (Charadrius vociferous) 22nd, Ruff (Calidris pugnax) on the 24th and a Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola) on the 28th.

94. Lesser Black-backed Gull (LBBG)

Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus)
This bird was first seen by Ed Massiah at the world famous Oistins.  I saw this first yearling bird on November 1st at the same location among Laughing Gulls both mature and juveniles. The LBBG stood out because of its pinkish leg.   These birds are 21-25 inches in length with the first year juveniles being mottled brownish with a black bill. 

95. Hudsonian Godwit

Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica)-back
This large shorebird was first reported on by Dr. John Webster while he was visiting the shorebird refuge at Woodbourne, St. Philip.  While Hudsonian Godwits are considered rare to the island we have come to expect at least one every year.  I saw the bird on the morning of November 4th while it was busy feeding with other shorebirds including Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs.  Hudsonian Godwits, as we see them in nonbreeding plumage are 13-16 inches in length with a greyish upperpart and white underparts, a long slightly upturned pinkish bill and a white rump with a black tail.  It was good to see the WSR hosting such a bird.

96. Brown Booby

Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster)
There were reports and even photographs of Brown Booby sightings on both the west and south coast of the island from late October into November, so I was not too surprised when I saw these birds.  I was on my way to explore the watery deep on board the Atlantis Submarine, which surfaces about ¾ of a mile off the west coast, when I saw the birds sitting on a buoy not too far from our rendezvous point with the sub.  Later while examining the photograph, which was taken with a point and shoot camera, I noticed that the bird in the center had a band on its left leg.  I tried but was unable to read the code on the band because of the poor quality of the image.

A Brown Booby is a large seabird 30” in length, with a wingspan of 57”.  Adult upperparts and chest are brown with white underparts and a yellow bill.  The juveniles, like the one I saw, are brown all over.

97. Killdeer

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferous)
This shorebird, which got its common name “Killdeer” from its call notes, is commonly seen around this time of year in ones or twos.  Its distinctive double breast band makes it easily recognizable among the group of other plovers. This one was seen on a road, flooded from the increase rainfall we had in the month of November.
Killdeers are 10.5” in lengths, brown upperparts, white upperparts and a brownish-orange rump.  It has a white collar and a double breast band.

98. Ruff

Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster)
This was a bird I thought I had in the bag months ago, so you can imagine the surprise on checking my tally of birds for the year on, the home of all my list, and realizing that it had increased my year count by one (1) after my latest update.  This extra unexpected bird was a Ruff.  This was surprising because we had multiple sightings of Ruffs throughout the year.  These shorebirds are considered rare to this region and are known to breed in Northern Eurasia.  They are 11–13” in length, long necked, short billed with white underparts and greyish upperparts.   Ruffs, and Reeves the feminine gender, can be identified by their erect posture. 

99. Wood Sandpiper

Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)
I saw this bird while on an after work excursion in the north of the island.  While birds were not plentiful in this part of the island I did find a shallow pond with over twenty Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs.  A bird, just smaller than a Lesser Yellowleg with an unfamiliar call, caught my attention.  It was just after 5:00pm and the sunlight was fading fast, so I booted my camera’s ISO up to 1600 and tried to get as many images as possible.  On examination of the images I noted it had strong supercilium that ran from the base of the bill and continued pass the eyes.  This was something I looked for in a Wood Sandpiper.  On arriving home I played the call for Wood Sandpiper and it was identical to the call the bird made.  I then shared a photo on the local bird alert web and it was confirmed as a Wood Sandpiper.
Wood Sandpipers are 7-8” in length, with dark grey-brown upperparts, light flecks or spots, and white underparts.  Their legs are yellow-green.  Wood Sandpipers breed widely across the north of Europe and Asia, mostly in Scandinavia, Baltic countries and Russia and are vagrant to Barbados.

 The goal now will be to find that 100th bird asap to make it three consecutive years of 100 Barbados bird species in a calendar year.  Will I make it? Stay tuned!