Birds of Grand Bahama February 20-22,
On this trip we had another great group of birders, we saw most
of the endemics and saw many nice West Indian birds. We missed a few,
it is always hard to get them all. The weather was very cool on this
trip compared to last year. The birding was better than last year with
a good number of species seen. On the way out of Port Everglades we
saw the Great Cormorant which has returned for its second year.
Great Cormorant on the right next to a Double-crested Cormorant.
It was neat to see the Pilot Boat come and get the captain, who guided the
ship out of the harbor.
On the cruise over we had a couple of distant Jaegers in U.S. waters and
then one or two in Bahamian waters.
Eagle-eyed Carl saw a gull with a little different "Jizz" than
the Ring-billed Gulls that we had been seeing. When we were able to
get a closer look, we
turned it into a Black-legged Kittiwake! This was in Bahamian waters,
a first for me! This was a great find and an exciting find.
The Black-legged Kittiwake followed the ship for a while,
before alighting on the water. We did not see it the rest of the trip.
We did not see any other neat species and were excited to be on land for
some nice birding. My friend picked us up at the terminal, we started
birding at the Rand Nature Center. This is always a good area for some
of the local birds. We saw the first of many Cuban Emeralds here
as well as Cuban Pewee, Hairy Woodpecker,
Western Spindalis, Thick-billed
Red-legged Thrush and two Hooded Warblers.
While passing by one of the many
roundabouts, we saw this Loggerhead Kingbird in
the middle of one. It posed for some photos, it was one of several
that we saw. This bird seemed to have
more yellow on the underside than most.
We stopped by the landfill to look for Bahama Swallows but did
not have any luck. This is always a tough bird in the winter months.
We checked into our hotel and then birded one of the gulf course ponds.
We had some Pied-billed Grebes, American Coot, Blue-winged Teal, Common
Moorhen and two SNOW GEESE! This was the first time for me
seeing Snow Geese in the West Indies which was exciting. We also had
one Barn Swallow and a Northern Rough-winged Swallow. The Northern
Rough-winged Swallow was also new for my West Indies list.
We had a very early start on day two in hopes of finding Key West
Quail-Dove. There is no easy way to see these birds, they are very
skittish and flush or run away as soon as they see you. We drove one
of the coastal roads that goes through some coastal coppice. We did
not see any along this road. We walked into one of the hammocks where
I had seen one in past years. We struck out here as well and did not
see any on this trip. We drove north from the coast on Owl Hole road
and birded another nice area of coppice habitat. We had the first of
many Greater Antillean Bullfinches here, last year we hardly saw any.
In fact we almost missed them which would have been a first.
Greater Antillean Bullfinch
At Owl Hole we did not see any Barn Owl as in previous years, cave divers
may have upset them. There were two eggs under a ledge that looked
abandoned. You can see that the ladder going down into the Blue Hole
goes right past the nest site.
Barn Owl eggs
Here is a sign of the times I guess, this is a new sign warning those thrill
seeker cave divers. You can see Barn Owl white wash on the sign.
Owl Hole Sign
While we were at Owl Hole this cool day flying moth landed on Warren.
Moth, what species?
We had a Black-faced Grassquit near Owl Hole, this was the first
of several that we saw. We continued birding east in the direction of Mclean's Town at
the east end of the Island. We saw several of the resident race of
American Kestrel (Bahama race)
Notice the lack of heavy streaking on the sides like the mainland
race. They are smaller as well, a very pretty bird.
American Kestrel (Bahama race)
We traveled into the pinewoods on several different roads, we
were able to see many different Olive-capped Warblers. These are
always nice to see, they have a very pleasant song.
Olive-capped Warbler showing its olive cap.
While cruising the pinewoods we looked for Brown-headed Nuthatch, this is a
tough bird to see on Grand Bahama.
Typical pinewoods road
This is also the only Island in the West Indies that have Brown-headed
Nuthatch. It is a species that is being considered a different species
from the mainland form. We were very, very lucky to find two birds
north of the main highway on Owl Road. I find it always exciting to
see them, we were not able to find them last year. We drove for many
miles through suitable habitat last year but just could not find one.
Brown-headed Nuthatch (Bahama race)
We also were able to get great looks at the resident race of Yellow-throated
Yellow-throated Warbler (Bahama race)
This is another candidate for a new species as it looks different and acts
different than the mainland race. We also had several different La
Sagra's Flycatchers, this is such a neat myiarchus flycatcher with a very
La Sagra's Flycatcher
After searching the pinewoods for a while we decided to move on. On the
way towards High Rock, I spotted some Bahama Swallows flying low over the
pinewoods. We were able to stop in time to get very good looks at
them. We had two or three birds.
We were very fortunate to see these birds as we did not see any the rest of
the trip. The birds seem to be spread out at that time of year, with
perhaps some birds migrating farther south. When we got to High Rock we went
to one of my favorite restaurants on Grand Bahama the Diamond Sunrise
Diamond Sunrise Restaurant
The food was excellent as always, I had the Cracked Conch which
was as good as ever. After a good meal we cruised another beach road
looking for Bahama Yellowthroat. After quite a bit of searching we
were all rewarded with an excellent view of a male. We had this Pine
Devil Moth sitting on the side of the Diamond Sunrise Restaurant, a very
Pine Devil Moth
Lighthouse at High Rock
We also had our first good looks at a Bananaquit, these birds are not as
common as they used to be. I think that the hurricanes that hit a few
years ago really hurt their numbers. I remember finding them without
any problem prior to the hurricanes, now you have to search a lot more for
them. I think that we had about four in total.
We finally made it to Mclean's Town where we found a Great
Black-backed Gull as well as an American Oystercatcher. This may be
the first American Oystercatcher for Grand Bahama. I don't know
for sure though, it is the first one that I have seen there.
We headed back to Freeport after a long day of birding, we had dinner at
Zorba's Greek Restaurant. Always
excellent food with many local dishes. On our last day of birding we
searched some of the pinewoods areas for Zenaida Dove. We did not have
luck finding one, but we saw another Bahama Yellowthroat as well as many
other local birds. We then went to Garden of the Groves for some
excellent birding and a great lunch. We went to a private residence to
look for a Bahama Woodstar but we could not find one. However, we did
see two Ruby-throated Hummingbirds which are rare in the Bahamas!
We also checked out one of the Gulf course lakes
for waterfowl. We had many Least Grebes and a Sora Rail which
was nice. The Sora feed out in the open.
We had a Canada Goose at the same course which was nice.
We had 90 species including 20-species of warbler!
A list of birds seen are below, this was another great trip!
||LA SAGRA'S FLYCATCHER
|GREAT CORMORANT (Ft. Lauderdale)
||Northern Rough-winged Swallow
|Great Blue Heron
|Little Blue Heron
||Cape May Warbler
||Black-throated Blue Warbler
||Black-throated Green Warbler
||Yellow-throated Warbler (both races)
|GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL
||GREATER ANTILLEAN BULLFINCH