Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Hurricanes and Birds Part 2: How Do Caribbean Birds Survive?

Can Caribbean bird populations survive hurricanes? Or perhaps we should ask, how do they manage to live through the storms’ fierce onslaught as well as survive the aftermath when there is little food and shelter?

In Part 1 we looked at the terrible damage caused by Hurricane Matthew to the human life, infrastructure, wildlife and ecosystems on some of our islands. Matthew arrived just a couple of months ago. Some communities are only just picking up the pieces, and for many, life remains a struggle.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

My 2016

I had a good time as usual, birding in 2016.  I tallied 100 species for Barbados the third year in a row, which included 5 lifers, one of which was a first for the island.  I had a very rewarding birding trip to Trinidad and Tobago which added 97 species to my international checklist.  Here are a few of my highlights for 2016.


Great Kiskadee @ Hilton on February 08th 
Purple Gallinule @ St. George on February 11th

Greater Shearwater “Ocean” on June 09th  
Brown Pelican @ Pyle Bay on October 1st
Tricolor Heron @ Chancery Lane on October 13th

Trinidad Trip    

The family and I vacationed in Trinidad and Tobago from August 1st to 8th.  We visited iconic birding hotspots like Asa Wright Nature Centre, Caroni Swamp and Aripo Agriculture Station.  We also hooked up with one of the island’s top birders and wildlife photographers, Wendell Reyes, for a wonderful week of birding and photography.  In that one week I tallied 141 species, 97 of which were lifers.  This increased my world life count to 241 species.  Here are a few images from that trip.

As 2016 fades into history I look forward to a fun time in 2017.


Wednesday, 4 January 2017

My 2016 checklist

Here is a slideshow of 97 of the 100 birds I saw in 2016.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

2016 Review:Barbados

Drought was the main problem for 2016 on the island.  This spilled over from 2015 but the rain came in a big way during the latter quarter of the year hopefully signaling the end of these extreme dry weather conditions and low rain falls we have been having for at least a year and a half.  In spite of these conditions the island recorded 105 bird species one of which was a new species and it also includes a few rarities.

New Species for the Island 

In the month of February a new bird was added to the local avian checklist.  It was the Great Kiskadee.  This bird was seen by a visiting birder on the grounds of the Hilton Hotel.  The bird hung around for a couple of weeks before disappearing.


Some of the rarities from 2015 stayed with us into 2016.  A Eurasian Wigeon in St. Andrew,  and a Grey Heron at Chancery Lane,  Lesser Blackbacked Gull at Oistins and the Marsh Harrier.  A West Indian Whistling-Duck in St. John could be considered a resident since it was here for a couple of years now and is reported to have its second brood of hybrid ducklings with a Black-bellied Whistling duck.
The island has a few species of rare birds that are becoming yearly visitors such as the Glossy Ibis, Gray Heron, Ruffs, Fulvous Whistling Duck and Wood Sandpipers.  Other species of interest recorded during 2016 that can be considered rare were the Pearly-eyed Thrasher, Tricoloed Heron, Brown Pelicans, Purple Gallinules and Striated Heron.  
The two birds I considered to be the mega-rarities for 2016 were a Greater Shearwater, which strolled into a hotel on the south coast one night, (follow these links to see the postings 1, 2) and  a White-crowned Pigeon which was photographed by a resident in the Warrens, St. Michael area.
Birding Aboard, a program which seeks to mobilize the worldwide boating community to document ocean bird sightings for the sake of conservation, added a few pelagic birds to the island’s checklist.  The vessel Delphinus on a transatlantic voyage from Cape Verde to Barbados recorded sightings of White-tailed Tropicbird, Leach's Storm-Petrel and a Pomarine Jaeger to mention a few.

We can add to this list a few special birds that were seen during 2016.  A Pink Cattle Egret which was seen in St. Philip, we also had a Eurasian Whimbrel seen at Chancery Lane and a suspected Lesser Antillean/ Barbados Bullfinch hybrid seen in St. Peter. 
There were a few unconfirmed sightings for example a White-cheeked Pintail seen at Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary which most likely was one of the caged pintails kept at the sanctuary and another was of a flock of Gadwalls which were seen after a rainstorm.  If there is any confirmation of these two birds, I’ll let you know. 

Wild Bird Rehabilitation found a Home on the island

During 2016 we had two occasions where wild birds needed emergency medical attention and on both occasions a friend was found in the local RSPCA.  The first occasion was a Great Blue Heron with a broken wing which arrived at the Barbados RSPCA in November 2015 and was released in February 2016 (Click Link).  The second bird was a Greater Shearwater, nicknamed Ocean (see here), who strolled into a south coast hotel on the night of June 8th.  Ocean was unable to fly but showed no signs of injury.  Dr. John Webster took him to the Barbados RSPCA where the staff worked assiduously to nurse Ocean back to health but sadly he died (See here). A Big thank you to all involved.

This is the 2016 record what will 2017 bring…