Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Global Big Day 2017

Sanderling - Calidris alba @ Oistins molting
Here is the break down from the Cornell Global Big Day 2017 held on May 13.  It was a very overcast day, the treat of rain was always around but I registered my first bird at 4:55am and the last one at 5pm turning in seventeen checklists and tallying 495 individual birds.  I recorded 53 species, which was seven species over my previous best in 2016.  This was also the highest individual count, up five from 2015 and the highest Global Big Day count for the island, up one from 2015.  I recorded four year birds moving my year tally from seventy – four to seventy – eight. 

Misses and Surprises

I missed a few birds-
  • Blackpoll Warbler- I knew this would have been a toss-up but after seeing this late migrant one week before I was hoping to see it again but did not.
  • West Indies Whistling Dusk – A single bird at a private pond in St. Philip. This bird was at this location for a few years now it even has ducklings with a Black- whistling duck so I figured that it would have been an easy find but it was not there.

  • Red-billed Tropicbird – I did not see a single RBTB at its nesting cliff.

  • Southern lapwing – This bird was scarce for most of the year but I saw it on May 4th and figured that it was back, but I did not see it on bird count day.

  • Willet – there was a Willet at Chancery Lane for most of the week prior to the count so I was astonished not to see it.

Bank Swallow - Riparia riparia @ Pile Bay a first for the year

  • Bank Swallow – I saw this bird at my second stop of the day, Pile Bay, among a group of Caribbean Martins.
  • Pectoral Sandpiper – I was not expecting to see this bird this early in the year, this is normally seen during the winter migration in the latter part of the year.
Pectoral Sandpiper - Calidris melanotos

It was a most productive Global Big Day even though this is normally the worst birding period of the year.

Here is a full list of birds seen (Year birds are in red) and a link to more images
  1. Black-bellied Whistling-Duck - Dendrocygna autumnalis
  2. Pied-billed Grebe - Podilymbus podiceps
  3. Magnificent Frigatebird - Fregata magnificens
  4. Brown Booby - Sula leucogaster
  5. Great Blue Heron - Ardea herodias
  6. Great Egret - Ardea alba
  7. Little Egret - Egretta garzetta
  8. Snowy Egret - Egretta thula
  9. Little Blue Heron - Egretta caerulea
  10. Cattle Egret - Bubulcus ibis
  11. Green Heron - Butorides virescens
  12. Black-crowned Night-Heron - Nycticorax nycticorax
  13. Common Gallinule - Gallinula galeata
  14. Black-bellied Plover - Pluvialis squatarola
  15. Pacific Golden-Plover - Pluvialis fulva
  16. Semipalmated Plover - Charadrius semipalmatus
  17. Ruddy Turnstone - Arenaria interpres
  18. Stilt Sandpiper - Calidris himantopus
  19. Sanderling - Calidris alba
  20. Least Sandpiper - Calidris minutilla
  21. Pectoral Sandpiper - Calidris melanotos
  22. Semipalmated Sandpiper - Calidris pusilla
  23. Short-billed Dowitcher - Limnodromus griseus
  24. Spotted Sandpiper - Actitis macularius
  25. Greater Yellowlegs - Tringa melanoleuca
  26. Lesser Yellowlegs - Tringa flavipesF
  27. Laughing Gull - Leucophaeus atricilla
  28. Lesser Black-backed Gull - Larus fuscus
  29. Royal Tern - Thalasseus maximus
  30. Rock Pigeon - Columba livia
  31. Scaly-naped Pigeon - Patagioenas squamosa
  32. Eurasian Collared-Dove - Streptopelia decaocto
  33. Common Ground-Dove - Columbina passerina
  34. Zenaida Dove - Zenaida aurita
  35. Eared Dove - Zenaida auriculata
  36. Black Swift - Cypseloides niger
  37. Green-throated Carib - Eulampis holosericeus
  38. Antillean Crested Hummingbird - Orthorhyncus cristatus
  39. Rose-ringed Parakeet - Psittacula krameri
  40. Yellow-crowned Parrot - Amazona ochrocephala
  41. Orange-winged Parrot - Amazona amazonica
  42. Caribbean Elaenia - Elaenia martinica
  43. Gray Kingbird - Tyrannus dominicensis
  44. Black-whiskered Vireo - Vireo altiloquus
  45. Caribbean Martin - Progne dominicensis
  46. Bank Swallow - Riparia riparia
  47. Yellow Warbler - Setophaga petechia
  48. Grassland Yellow-Finch - Sicalis luteola
  49. Bananaquit - Coereba flaveola
  50. Black-faced Grassquit - Tiaris bicolor
  51. Barbados Bullfinch - Loxigilla barbadensis
  52. Carib Grackle - Quiscalus lugubris
  53. Shiny Cowbird - Molothrus bbonariensis

Global Big Day 2017 - Images

Cornell Global Big Day 2017 held on May 13 was a very overcast day, not the best for photography by here are a few images from that excursion.

Sanderling - Calidris alba @ Oistins molting
Bank Swallow - Riparia riparia @ Pile Bay a first for the year

Lesser Black-backed Gulls - Larus fuscus

Lesser Black-backed Gull - Larus fuscus

Short-billed Dowitcher - Limnodromus griseus & 
Stilt Sandpiper - Calidris himantopus

Pectoral Sandpiper - Calidris melanotos
Magnificent Frigatebird - Fregata magnificens
Black-bellied Plovers - Pluvialis squatarola
Juvenile Little Blue Heron - Egretta caerule

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Lifer, Mega-rarity and Non-rare Rarity

What a week of birding I had!  And Thursday was Super Thursday because I had a lifer which turned out to be a mega rarity and especially for this time of year.  
At the end of the 18th week of 2017 my year check list moved from 70 to 74 and my photographic big year tally from 59 to 60.  My life list moved up one from 242 to 243 whilst my Barbados life list increased by 1 to 129 species.

Lifer and Mega-rarity  

Pacific Golden-Plover - Pluvialis fulva
I saw this bird on Thursday in the parish of St. Philip while on lunch.  At first I thought it was an American Golden Plover, a migratory shorebird normally seen in the latter months of the year, but rarely if ever recorded this early in the year.  I shared the photographs later that night with fellow birder Ed Massiah (Birds of Barbados…) suggesting yes it maybe something special, pointing to another golden plover species the Pacific Golden Plover.  He forwarded the photos to noted Ornithologist and author P. A. Buckley (Birds of Barbados…) and with the help of renowned photographer and co-author of The Shorebird Guide Kevin Karlson confirmed Pacific Golden Plover.
Pacific Golden Plovers are 9-10 ½ inches in length, nest on Arctic and subarctic Alaskan tundra, and may winter on islands in the Pacific Ocean as far south as Australia.  They have dark brown upperparts, spangled with gold to pale yellow or white.  A white stripe extends from the forehead, over the eyes, to the wings.  Breeding males are solid black from chin to under-tail coverts.  Females are duller in colour. They are similar in appearance to American Golden-Plovers, but have shorter wings, brighter yellow markings on their upperparts, and mostly white under-tail coverts and sides.  Non-breeding adults have yellow-edged upperparts and yellowish heads and necks.  Juveniles have a golden cast to head and neck and spotted upperparts.  This was the fourth record of this bird on the island.

Unexpected Rarity

Blackpoll Warbler - Setophaga striata
I spent most of April and thus far May in search of migrating wood warblers at the Graeme Hall Swamp. My focus was on three main species, Prothonotary , Myrtle Warbler and Northern Parula but of course any other would have done quite well but I did not expect to see the Warbler I saw.  A bird that is more commonly seen during the month of October and in the northern parish of St. Lucy.  This bird was a Blackpoll Warbler.  The warbler, which was in the process of molting to breeding plumage, was first seen on the 8th and again on the 9th busily scouring the trunk and leaves of an Acacia tree for insects.

Other Year Birds

Orange-winged Parrot - Amazona amazonica
The other two year birds seen during the week were Orange-winged Parrot seen on May 1st and a Southern Lapwing on May 4th moving my year total to 74 species.

2017 Photographic Big Year 60-63

The additions to my 2017 Photographic big year were the Orange-winged Parrot60, Blackpoll Warbler61, Pacific Golden Plover62 and Magnificent Frigatebird63.  This took my total to 63.
Week 18 was without a doubt my best week of birding for the year let us hope it sets the tone for the remainder of the year.  Enjoy your birding!
60 - Orange-winged Parrot - Amazona amazonica
61 - Blackpoll Warbler - Setophaga striata
62 - Pacific Golden-Plover - Pluvialis fulva
63 - Magnificent Frigatebird - Fregata magnificens

Saturday, 6 May 2017

The Cornell Global Big Day

The Cornell Global Big Day will take place on May 13, 2017.  I will be seeking to break the 50 species mark, something I am yet to do. Please join me and birder worldwide to be part of this Big Day.

Pass Records
2015 - 44 species 
2016 - 45 species
2017 - ??

Monday, 1 May 2017

2017 Photographic Big Year 58 & 59 - Two New Year Birds

My 2017 year and Big year Photographic challenge list increased by two at the end of week 18. That week was ambling along until Wednesday 26th when I registered the two sightings, the first in morning the other afternoon, on opposite sides of the island.  The first bird was a Brown Pelican58, a rarity, which was seen fishing in the bay at Six Men’s St. Peter.  The other bird, a Willet59, was at Chancery Lane, Christ Church. These birds brought the tallies for my year and big year list to 70 and 59 respectively.

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

58 - Brown Pelican - Pelecanus occidentalis
59 - Willet - Tringa semipalmata

See 2017 Photographic Big Year images here.