Sunday, 19 April 2015

Birding Five Islands in Six Days - St. Maartens

Here are some of the birds I saw in St. Maarten.


Pearly-eyed Thrasher (Margarops fuscatus) a common bird on the island
Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola) the ones for this island had an grey throat
Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)

Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster)

Brown Booby fishing in the Great Bay Port
Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus)

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)

Heard this guy before I saw him in a car park near the Great Salt Pond

White-cheeked Pintails (Anas bahamensis) @ the Great Salt Pond

Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)(M)

House Sparrow (M)
Laughing Gulls (Leucophaeus atricilla)
Caribbean Ameiva Lizard (Ameiva plei)

This guy was big!!

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Birding Five Islands in Six Days - Dominica

The beautiful island of Dominica provided the best birding of the entire trip.

The hill and mountians of Dominica
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)


A closer look at the Brown Pelican 
The ever present Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens)

Black Swift (Cypseloides niger)?

Black Swift (Cypseloides niger)?
Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)

Tropical Mockingbird (Mimus gilvus)

Lesser Antillean Bullfinch (Loxigilla noctis)

Brown Trembler (Cinclocerthia ruficauda)

Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus)
Antillean Crested Hummingbird (Orthorhyncus cristatus)

Smooth-billed Ani (Crotophaga ani)

A Closer look at the Smooth-billed Ani 

Scaly-breasted Munia - (Lonchura punctulata)

Birding Five Islands in Six Days - St. Lucia

Here are some of the birds I saw while birding on the Caribbean island of St.Lucia on April 9, 2015

Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)

Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)

Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)
Laughing Gull (Leucophaeus atricilla)
Laughing Gull (Leucophaeus atricilla)
Laughing Gulls, Sandwich Terns and Royal Tern
Carib Grackle (Quiscalus lugubris)(F)
Lesser Antillean Bullfinch (Loxigilla noctis)(M)
Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola)
Take note throat color and how it varies from island to island

Tropical Mockingbird (Mimus gilvus)
Tropical Mockingbird preening 
Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)
Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea) in its white phase


An out of focus Black-Whiskered Vireo (Vireo altiloquus)

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Birding April Third



Sora
 With an angry looking sky displaying its many shades of grey suggesting rain was imminent, and with I fighting off a cold, I was ready for my first early morning birding excursion in more than a month.  I had all my bases covered; my camera was packed away from the night before with an empty memory card installed and for the cold I took two teaspoons of cough syrup followed by some vitamin C.  I was so hyped that I even considered taking some of my wife’s concoction of Garlic and Ginger which was sitting in the refrigerator, but I regained my sanity just in time when the smell hit my nostrils and left it where it was.  It was quite chilly outside, so I protected myself with three layers of shirts, packed my breakfast and was out through the door.

I had arranged the night before to meet Dr. John Webster at 6am to bird two locations in the south of the island, first a Private Swamp, which he has permission to visit, and the cliffs where the Red-billed Tropicbirds are nesting.

The Private Swamp

Remains of Common Gallinule
killed by Peregine
This is probably one of the best birding locations on the island.  It consisted of many small ponds which provide varying habitats for different birds.  At the first pond we saw a few bird species including five Soras, a few Blue-winged Teals and a very sleepy Pied-billed Grebe.  The Soras were very tolerant of our presence and allowed us to photograph them foraging on the banks and in the shallow parts of the pond. Flying around a few of the ponds were Swallows, mainly Barn Swallows, but we also saw a small Swallow with a white belly, square tail, a brownish rump and a white forehead.  Dr. Webster identified it as a Cliff Swallow with which my Birds of the West Indies Helm Field Guide concurred.  The Cliff Swallow was a first for me for the year.  A Caribbean Coot which was first sighted in January was still around and the family of Grebes which included three chicks was growing well.  Dr. Webster also showed me the carcass of a Common Gallinule that was killed by a Peregrine Falcon.  He described the attack as relentless.  He said the Raptor never tried to feed on the bird and continued attacking until he was sure the bird was dead and then flew off.  We spent two hours there and saw thirty one species of birds.

The Tropicbirds Cliff


We arrived at our second location for birding at 9am.  The sky was still overcast and grey but the lighting was much better for photography.  As I exited my vehicle I could hear the familiar calls of the Grassland Yellow Finch.  As I walked along the grassy path to the cliffs where the Tropicbirds nested, I saw a Grassland Finch jump from just in front of me, on further inspection I found a nest with three eggs.  I took a few photos of the nest and moved away to allow the bird to return to its
nest.  As I reached the cliffs looking over the sea, I noticed two Tropicbirds to the right of where I was standing. Soon afterward I saw another to my left. This bird appeared to be searching for a nesting hole.  It continually examined the face of the cliff as it flew by sometimes hovering or alighting in a hole or on a ledge for closer inspection.  It was at this point that I realized I was not as prepared as I thought.  My camera battery died.  I forgot to charge the battery the night before.  I swapped the camera for a pair of binoculars and continued to watch this bird work.  It appeared that he found a hole that was pleasing; he landed to check it out and then flew off into the Horizon.  We spent thirty to forty five minutes at that location.


Red-billed Tropicbird on a ledge


The April 3rd, trip to the south recorded thirty-six species of birds with one being a first for the year for me. See the table below for the checklist and click this link to view the photographs from that day.


 TABLE

#
Common Name
Scientific Names
1
Blue-winged Teal
Anas discors
2
Pied-billed Grebe
Podilymbus podiceps
3
Red-billed Tropicbird
Phaethon aethereus
4
Great Blue Heron
Ardea herodias
5
Great Egret
Ardea alba
6
Snowy Egret
Egretta thula
7
Little Blue Heron
Egretta caerulea
8
Cattle Egret
Bubulcus ibis
9
Green Heron
Butorides virescens
10
Sora
Porzana carolina
11
Common Gallinule
Gallinula galeata
12
Caribbean Coot
Fulica caribaea
13
Spotted Sandpiper
Actitis macularius
14
Solitary Sandpiper
Tringa solitaria
15
Greater Yellowlegs
Tringa melanoleuca
16
Least Sandpiper
Calidris minutilla
17
Wilson's Snipe
Gallinago delicata
18
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)
Columba livia
19
Scaly-naped Pigeon
Patagioenas squamosa
20
Eurasian Collared-Dove
Streptopelia decaocto
21
Common Ground-Dove
Columbina passerina
22
Zenaida Dove
Zenaida aurita
23
Green-throated Carib
Eulampis holosericeus
24
Belted Kingfisher
Megaceryle alcyon
25
Caribbean Elaenia
Elaenia martinica
26
Grey Kingbird
Tyrannus dominicensis
27
Caribbean Martin
Progne dominicensis
28
Barn Swallow
Hirundo rustica
29*
Cliff Swallow
Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
30
Yellow Warbler
Setophaga petechia
31
Grassland Yellow-Finch
Sicalis luteola
32
Bananaquit
Coereba flaveola
33
Black-faced Grassquit
Tiaris bicolor
34
Barbados Bullfinch
Loxigilla barbadensis
35
Carib Grackle
Quiscalus lugubris
36
Shiny Cowbird
Molothrus bonariensis