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