Thursday, 27 November 2014

Bird #88: Yellow Crowned Night Heron

Common Name: Yellow-crowned Night Heron
Scientific Name: Nyctanassa violacea

24 inches; medium size heron; head black; crown cream/buffy white; eyes red; cheeks white; bill black; plumage slate grey; legs yellow. Breeding: head plumes. Juvenile: brownish-grey; thin white spots; dark grey flight feather.
Habitat: Wooded areas with water; nocturnal

Statue: Regular but uncommon fall* visitor, mostly juveniles. Rare in spring and summer*.
*North American seasons)


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Common Cuckoo in Barbados

The first Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) recorded in Barbados and the Western Hemisphere was shot on November 5th, 1958 at the Graeme Hall Swamp.  The second Common Cuckoo was recorded 56 years and 13 days later on November 18th, 2014 in the parish of St. Lucy.  It was first seen by Dr. John Webster and identification was made by a visiting birder and, I am happy to say a follower of this blog, Steve Bright on November 23rd.  He was also the first person to take a somewhat useable photograph of the bird with his cell phone and a scope, but our local expert needed a good photo of the rump to separate it from the African Cuckoo (Cuculus gularis).   
We got this photograph, finally, on 21st which firmly established the Identification.
The Common Cuckoo formerly known as the European Cuckoo is a medium sized bird, 13-14 inches in length.  It has a long tail, a yellow eye-ring and is barred, black and white, on its chest.  The upperparts of the males are grey and the underparts whitish.  Their bills are pointed and black in color, while their feet are yellow.  Females are of a brownish morph coloring.
Common Cuckoos breed throughout Europe, Africa and Asia and feed on caterpillars and insects.  It is known mostly for the call made by the male which has been adopted by cuckoo clocks around the world.
So far, as we near the end of Rare Bird Month, the Common Cuckoo heads the list for the most exciting bird seen. I wonder what else will turn up.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Birding the Third Weekend of November

The birders on the island had a wonderful weekend with one of them racking up fifty-one (51)species in just a few hours of birding.  His checklist included such rarities as an American Coot, a Grey Heron, a Lesser Scaup, a Ring-necked Duck, a Red Knot, a Long-billed Dowitcher, a Northern Waterthrush and the threatened West Indian Whistling-Duck.  The best part of his checklist is that he was in the company of a visiting birder whose life list may have had a big boost from that outing. 

Another visiting birder, that was with us for a couple of weeks, jokingly allowed me to know that he will soon overtake my year’s list.  His list for Barbados now stands at seventy-one(71) species.  Some of his new lifers are the Barbados Bullfinch, Blackpoll Warbler and Eared Doves. 

My weekend was not as fulfilling.  My species count only totaled twenty-eight (28)species for the two days.  On Saturday I was finally able to get photos of the Long-billed Dowitchers in the east of the island.  On Sunday, my morning started at Six Men’s on the west coast of the island.  Every year a large flock of Sanderlings winter at this location with some tagged ones among the flock.
There were fifty-eight Sanderlings on the beach and among them was
tagged-bird Y2L.  This was the second year I reported Y2L and the third year it was reported in Barbados.  I contacted banded birds ( and reported the sighting.

Another highlight of the trip was the return of the Ruff.  I first spotted it a week or so ago, it was not seen after that, but now it is back.  I also missed a Green winged Teal at that same northern location.  It was only realized by another birder/photographer, as he was reviewing his photographs from that day.

All in all, it was a fair weekend of birding for me.

 Table below of the birds seen this weekend

Common Name
Scientific Name
Coereba flaveola
Barbados Bullfinch
Loxigilla barbadensis 
Black-bellied Plover
Pluvialis squatarola
Black-faced Grassquit
Tiaris bicolor
Blue-winged Teal
Anas discors
Carib Grackle
Quiscalus lugubris
Caribbean Martin
Progne dominicensis
Cattle Egret
Bubulcus ibis
Common Gallinule
Gallinula galeata
Common Ground-Dove
Columbina passerina
Eurasian Collared-Dove
Streptopelia decaocto
Grassland Yellow-Finch
Sicalis luteola
Gray Kingbird
Tyrannus dominicensis
Greater Yellowlegs
Tringa melanoleuca
Lesser Yellowlegs
 Tringa flavipes
Little Egret
Egretta garzetta
Peregrine Falcon
Falco peregrinus
Pied-billed Grebe
Podilymbus podiceps
Calidris alba
Scaly-naped Pigeon
 Patagioenas squamosa
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Calidris pusilla
Shiny Cowbird
 Molothrus bonariensis
Short-billed Dowitcher
Limnodromus griseus
Snowy Egret
Egretta thula
Stilt Sandpiper
Calidris himantopus
White-rumped Sandpiper
Calidris fuscicollis
Wilson's Snipe
Gallinago delicata
Zenaida Dove
Zenaida aurita