Sunday, 3 December 2017

2017 Photographic Big Year - 93 & 94

It has been a difficult time for me birding in the last couple of weeks.  Car troubles, which impeded my movement for a few weeks, camera troubles, which are still unresolved and relegated me to my less than stellar Rebel XT, which in itself has problems.  These along with a few other factors limited my birding in the latter weeks of October and most of November.  So you would understand my joy to have gotten in a few hours of birding on Thursday November 30th, which was a public holiday for the island’s independence.  
This early morning birding trip took me to the easterly parish of St. Andrew and landed me my 132nd Barbados lifer, 97th year bird, 93rd Image for my 2017 Photographic Big Year and a Mega Rarity for the island.  This bird, a Eurasian Spoonbill93 (Platalea leucorodia), was only the second one ever recorded on the island.  The Spoonbill, a juvenile, was white with patches of black at the edge of its flight feather; its unmistakable spoon shaped bill was yellowish in color with black legs.  Eurasian Spoonbills breed from southern Spain and Netherlands to Korea and from Western Africa through India to China. – The Birds of Barbados – P.A. Buckley et al.  The bird appeared healthy as it waded in water up to its knees.  It was recorded at this same location days after. 
My 94th bird sent me back to images I took in January.  The images were of a Green-winged Teal94 (Anas crecca).  The images were not of the best quality and I was hoping to photograph the bird as it molted into its stunning breeding plumage, which is a combination of shades of blue and brown, but that never happened.  
The task to photograph 100 different birds looks daunting with just four weeks remaining in 2017 but I still believe I can pull it off and will be working tirelessly to do so in the remaining days to come.
Stay tuned and enjoy your birding!

See images below.  See 2017 Photographic Big Year images here.

93 - Eurasian Spoonbill - Platalea leucorodia
94 - Green-winged Teal - Anas crecca

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

2017 Photographic Big Year - 90-92

My Photographic Big Year 2017 moved into the nineties at the end of Week 45. Images of Northern Pintail90, Lesser Scaup91 and Rock Pigeon (Feral) 92 were added bringing the total to 92 different species. Eight more to go!!

See images below.  See 2017 Photographic Big Year images here.

90 - Northern Pintail  Anas acuta
91 - Lesser Scaup Aythya affinis
Rock Pigeon (Feral) Columba livia

Sunday, 29 October 2017

2017 Photographic Big Year - 87 - 89

Week 43 was an active but productive one for my 2017 Photographic Birding Challenge.  I was able to add three more birds to my checklist. We had/have a rare visit of a Tricolor Heron87 – a small to medium size heron which is more common to South America and the Greater Antilles; Wilson Snipe88 – a master of camouflage and a common winter migrant and the Yellow-billed Cuckoo89 another winter visitor seen mostly in the eastern and northern parishes around this time of the year.

With two months left in 2017 I still need to photograph 11 more species which means the pressure is on, no more games, the kid gloves are off – stay tune 😓 – happy birding.

See images below.  See 2017 Photographic Big Year images here.
87 - Tricolored Heron - Egretta tricolor
88 - Wilson's Snipe - Gallinago delicata
89 - Yellow-billed Cuckoo - Coccyzus americanus

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Harrison’s Point 2017: Blackpoll Fall Out

October normally finds local birders, like myself, combing the wooded areas surrounding the old US Naval Base at Harrisons Point (HP), St. Lucy. This is in search of a bird weighing less than an ounce but has one of the longest and most impressive migrations of the animal kingdom.  These birds, Blackpoll Warblers(BLPW) (Setophaga striata), take off from their breeding grounds, in forests of northern North America from Alaska, through most of Canada, the Great Lakes region and New England, on a  journey  of up to 1,500 miles over the Atlantic to their winter grounds in South America. (See migration map).  A study in the 90s done by McNair, Massiah and Frost at Harrisons Point discovered that the area around HP is an important refueling station along the migration route of these birds.  On normal occasions you may see one or two birds but during bad weather the birds on the ground can number into the hundreds.  This is a phenomenon called “fallout”.  It is when adverse atmospheric conditions interrupt migration forcing birds to the ground.  The study by McNair et al. stated that among other things when the barometric pressure is low around the BLPOs peek migration period - between October 15th -25th - that fallout will occur at HP. Saturday 14th was just that, with a barometric reading of 1012mb ( along with winds from the SE and persistence rain.

I left home at 5:45am with my birding buddies, Jason and Sahara (my two children) for the 40 minute drive to HP in the north.  When we arrived, it was still raining and I drove onto one of the new access roads (that’s another story) and parked under a large Tamarind Tree (Tamarindus indica) in hope that it would offer some protection from the rain.  They were many birds around especially seedeaters, like Blackface Grassquits and Barbados Bullfinches who were attracted to the seeding Megathrsus maximus commonly known as Guinea Grass.  Shiny Cowbirds and Carib Grackles were also busy feeding on the grass seeds.  As I exited the car with an umbrella, I caught sight of my first Blackpoll Warbler in the Tamarind Tree.  It was a strange one, something I had never seen until then - this bird was still showing its breeding plumage.  I then saw another, and another and another and by the end of our trip to HP the tally was 15 BLPO warblers and I knew many more were around but after spending one hour  and a half it was time to go. 

I am hoping to visit HP again this coming Saturday. Hopefully the weather is better and the birding is good.