BirdTrax: Latest Sightings

January to August 1999

A Magnificent Frigatebird was in various locations 28-30 Mar. A Eurasian Teal was on Devonshire Marsh 20 Apr. A Franklin’s Gull was at Dockyard, Sandys in Feb. Two Glaucous Gulls were at Dockyard in Feb. A Gull-billed Tern was on Warwick Pond 8 Mar. A Black-whiskered Vireo was at Coral Beach Club 30 Mar-1 Apr (AD). A Red-breasted Nuthatch was in Jenningsland, Smiths 4 Aug. A Sharp-tailed Sparrow, the first record for Bermuda, was found in Cedar Grove fields, Southampton 13 Oct (EA).

 

September to November 1999

This year has not produced a classic fall of migrants. Some birders describe this fall as the worst ever, citing the lack of warbler numbers, very few empidonax flycatchers or thrushes, and few migrant sparrows. Part of the reason may lie in unfavourable weather systems to bring us these birds, but one worries about the loss of habitat in the wintering areas of warbler species. Nevertheless, there were some notable observations.

Grebes to Ducks:

A probable Eared Grebe was seen at Spittal Pond on 7th Nov., a species that has only been recorded in Bermuda once before. Cahows were back at their nesting grounds by mid-October just after the last sighting of a Longtail on 8th Oct. Double-crested Cormorants appear to have arrived in good numbers and have been seen throughout the islands. The long-staying White Ibis remains and a Glossy Ibis was seen flying over Camden Marsh on 7th Oct. Apart from the usual early arriving Blue-winged Teal, most ducks didn't arrive until early November, including Wood Duck, American Black Duck, Bufflehead and Common Goldeneye. A probable Eurasian Wigeon was on Nonsuch Island on 10th Nov.

Birds of Prey to Gulls:

Three Northern Harriers on 16th Oct. created a record day count. At Morgan's Point, Marc and Linda Allaire watched one being mobbed by a Merlin and an American Kestrel, while a Peregrine Falcon soared overhead. Two Sharp-tailed Hawks were seen together in Smiths Parish on 20th Oct. Highlights amongst the shorebirds included 19 Whimbrel at the Civil Air Terminal on 16th Oct., a new maxima? (most of these are still present). A Red Knot was located on Riddell's Bay G.C. on 20th Oct., prior to the arrival of Hurricane 'Gert'. The same location provided a range of shorebirds while the fairways remained flooded. Two Eurasian species attracted much attention - a Curlew Sandpiper (Bermuda’s 6th record) was discovered by Andrew Dobson on Mid-Ocean GC on 17th Sept. When it was relocated on Riddell's Bay GC, it was obvious that it was a different bird (Bermuda’s 7th). This was proved to be true when the two were seen together - the first time two have been present together in Bermuda. The last sighting was at Daniel's Head Farm on 1st Oct. Another trans-Atlantic vagrant, a Ruff, arrived in early September and was present until at least the 26th Sept. It was the star attraction for the society's September fieldtrip. Paul Watson flushed a rare American Woodcock from fields in Southampton on 28th Oct. A probable Franklin's Gull was at Dockyard on 11th Nov., while a Lesser Black-backed Gull on 4th Sept. was the earliest fall record ever. At least two Royal Terns arrived. One at Astwood Park on 19th Sept. was no doubt trying to outpace 'Gert', while another unfortunately died in captivity at BAMZ.

Owls to Warblers:

A Short-eared Owl sat close to Steven DeSilva and David Wingate as they scanned for Cahows from the end of Cooper’s Point on 9th Nov. Chimney Swifts are a regular spring migrant, with few being recorded in the fall. Therefore 14 observed on 23rd October was easily a maxima for the fall, including one flock of 12 over Jenningsland and off North Shore. A Great-crested Flycatcher was an exceptional visitor to Jenningsland on 19th Oct, but perhaps no surprise to the Madeiros’ garden! A Western Kingbird stayed near the Martello tower at Ferry Point for at least a week from 31st Oct. Migrant vireos were hard to find, apart from a scattering of Red-eyed Vireos. Two Warbling Vireos at Port Royal GC on 16th Oct. equalled the previous highest day count. The movement of swallows fizzled out after September and the number of thrushes, let alone thrush species, could be counted on one hand. Good numbers of Cedar Waxwings were seen throughout October. Two American Pipits were noted on Horn Rock on 6th Nov. Although there has been a late influx of Palm and Yellow-rumped Warblers in November, the number of all warbler species is generally down. Of 38 warbler species on the Bermuda list, 35 species have been seen this fall. Sightings of single birds have included Yellow-breasted Chat, seen by most members of the Audubon bird camp on Oct.10th at Ferry Point. A Swainson’s Warbler was a new species for a number of local birders at Spittal Pond on 6/7th Nov.

Sparrows to Grosbeaks:

A Clay-coloured Sparrow at Hog Bay Park on 2nd Oct. was fine reward for those who had been making Longtail igloos during the afternoon. A Lark Sparrow on 25th Sept at Southside was a very lucky find for Paul Watson, only the 4th record of this species in Bermuda, but all of them in the 1990’s. One species, which arrived in very good numbers this season, was Indigo Bunting. Over 200 were present in the Talbot Estate fields on 8th Oct., almost certainly a new day maxima. Two Common Grackles provided a tantalising view for Eric Amos as they flew over St. George’s Harbour in Oct. November gales with cold fronts moving off the eastern seaboard often promise good birds, and this year has not disappointed. Penny Soares noted the first Snow Bunting on 8th Nov. near Shelly Bay. Further reports came in from various parts of the island with a flock of 37 at the airport on 9th Nov. There was also an influx of Common Redpolls, 35 being counted at Cooper's Island on 11th Nov. Perhaps the bird of the fall was a 'russet' Pine Grosbeak found by Jeremy and Leila Madeiros at Fort Scaur on 14th Nov. Only the fifth record for Bermuda and the first for 22 years, this exquisite bird provided stunning views.

Longtail in flight Bermuda

Longtails

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Bluebird in flight, worm in mouth, bluebird box

Bluebirds

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Cahow in flight Bermuda

Cahows

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Cockroach Island Bermuda, Audubon Nature Reserve Bermuda

Audubon Nature Reserves

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BHS building Bluebird boxes

Environmental Issues

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Kids' Activities

Kids' Activities

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Acknowledgements:

Photos courtesy of Andrew Dobson, Paul Watson, Chris Burville, Ras Mykkal, Jennifer Gray, Rosalind Wingate, Rick Slaughter and others.

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The Bermuda Audubon Society
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