Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Checklist update 2019

My first Checklist update for 2019 starts the year with 61 species. This list for the first half of January includes a few stayover rarities and a bird I missed last year, Killdeer (Charadrius vociferous). I added a few more color-coded keys to better decipher the list at a glance, highlighting rare birds in Blue font color, mega-rare birds in Purple and my Lifers will remain Dark Red.  I am looking forward to an exciting year of birding you can follow my progress here.

Here are a few images of some of the bird on this checklist.

55.  Glossy Ibis - Plegadis falcinellus

61.  Killdeer - Charadrius vociferus

51.  American Coot - Fulica americana

42.  Gray Heron - Ardea cinerea

52.  Eurasian Spoonbill - Platalea leucorodia

17.  Blue-winged Teal - Spatula discors

46.  Laughing Gull - Leucophaeus atricilla (rare for this time of year)

50.  Pied-billed Grebe - Podilymbus podiceps

40.  American Wigeon - Mareca americana

Monday, 7 January 2019

Barbados - A Year of Rare Birds and more

Birding in Barbados in 2018 meant a year of mega-rarities, rarities, and birds aplenty.   The mega-rarities included a first and a few seconds recorded for the island.  We also tallied one of, if not the highest, year species count, recording overall more than 120 species, with Dr. John Webster recording the highest individual local count of 109 species according to bird recording website ebird. For the second year running, we saw a few pelagic birds represented on the checklist.  Let us look at some of the year's highlights.

Mega-rare Birds

One new bird was added to the island’s checklist during 2018.  That bird was a Bat Falcon (Falco rufigularis) which is a small South American raptor that specializes in preying on bats.  The bird was first reported on by Grete Pasch at Sion Hill, St. James.  This was believed to be the first confirmed record for the West Indies.  We also had a few second record birds.  The January record of a female Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) in Christ Church represented the first record since December 1996*.  This was followed by a juvenile American Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) at Chancery Lane in February, this was the 1st record since May 2004*.  White-crowned Pigeon (Patagioenas leucocephala) was first recorded on the island in 2014 and made a big return in 2018 when multiple birds were spotted all over the island.  Other
Dead American Kestrel
Mega-rare birds that were reported on throughout the year was a Black Tern (Chlidonias niger) at Pile Bay, St. Michael,  Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus) at Graeme Hall Swamp, Pacific Golden-Plover (Pluvialis fulva) in St. Philip, a second Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) at Walkers, St. Andrew, the 3rd confirmed record for the island.  The sighting of the House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) on the island, the first time in nearly two decades was surprising.  It was made by a visiting team of experienced birders at Sunbury, St. Philip.  The saddest of all our rare bird sightings for 2018 was the recovery of a dead American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) in Christ church.  The bird was involved in an accident and did not survive.  These sightings emphasized the type of year we had and it was made even better by the reports of pelagic bird sightings by a few visitors to the island.

Pelagic Birds

Visiting birder, Andy Keister, “lucked out” while on a fishing trip just off the west coast in March.  He reported seeing pelagics such as Leach's Storm-Petrels (Oceanodroma leucorhoa), Pomarine Jaegers (Stercorarius pomarinus), Bridled Terns (Onychoprion anaethetus) and Brown Boobys (Sula leucogaster).  Another visitor reported and shared photographs of two Masked Boobys (Sula dactylatra) he saw while sailing out of the island.  I must agree with Andy when he suggested that more attention should be paid to sea watching and pelagic trips.  It is an area that is ignored by local birders.

We had our customary run of rare birds, Gray Heron, Ruff, Purple Gallinule, Black-headed Gull, Bobolinks etc. yes we saw birds aplenty in 2018 we look forward to the coming year.

*The Birds of BarbadosP.A. Buckley, Edward Massiah, Maurice Hutt, Francine Buckley, Hazel Hutt

Rare Birds 2018

American Flamingo - Phoenicopterus ruber

Hooded Merganser - Lophodytes cucullatus

Lesser Black-backed Gull - Larus fuscus

Purple Gallinule - Porphyrio martinica

White-crowned Pigeon - Patagioenas leucocephala

Fork-tailed Flycatcher - Tyrannus savana

Pacific Golden-Plover - Pluvialis fulva

American Kestrels - Falco sparverius

Black-headed Gull - Chroicocephalus ridibundus

Collared Plover - Charadrius collaris

Eurasian Spoonbill - Platalea leucorodia

Black Tern - Chlidonias niger

Least Tern - Sternula antillarum

Gull-billed Tern - Gelochelidon nilotica

Bank Swallow - Riparia riparia

Prothonotary Warbler - Protonotaria citrea

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Bird of the Year

Deciding on my bird of the year was not easy; after all I had five lifers.  So I decided to ask some of my friends about their bird of the year and why it was.

Bat Falcon photograph by Grete Pasch
The Bat Falcon (Falco rufigularis) recorded in March was the Bird of the Year for both Ed Massiah and Grete Pasch.  It was a lifer for both of them, and me, but also the first confirmed record for the West Indies.  As for Grete, who is a new birder on the island, finding a new species for the island was a big deal.
Whistling Warbler photograph by Judd Patterson
Another birder, writer and outstanding wildlife photographer I met last year was Judd Patterson.  He travels the world creating images of many beautiful creatures and I was surprised to learn that his bird of the year was an endemic from our region.  It was the elusive Whistling Warbler (Catharopeza bishopi) from the neighboring island of St. Vincent. Read more about his trip here.
Two of my family members began ebirding this year and both had birds of the year. 
Puerto Rican Tody
 My wife, Sophia, fell in love with the Puerto Rican Tody (Todus mexicanus) while my son choose the Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea).

American Flamingo
The difficulty in highlighting a bird of the year emphasizes the kind of year it was.  I had five remarkable lifers.  Four in the first three months, but my bird of the year would have to be the American Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber). Flamingos are glamourous birds known and celebrated by birders and non-birders alike so it was good to see one here.

What will this year bring?  Only time will tell.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019