BirdTrax: Latest Sightings

January to May 2004

January and February were particularly stormy, with frequent low pressure systems moving off the East Coast. As a result, the range of northern species occurring in Bermuda has been noteworthy. March and April remained cool, but the lack of any strong south-easterly winds so far this season and a huge high pressure system sitting over Bermuda for much of May, prevented the influx of most spring migrants and put paid to any chance of sea-watching for pelagic migrants. Highlights have included: Three Northern Gannets (a maxima); twenty species of wildfowl (including 10 Snow Geese, Eurasian Teal, Eurasian Wigeon and two White-winged Scoters - Bermuda’s 3rd and 4th); Glaucous Gull; 3 Short-eared Owls (a maxima); Bohemian Waxwing (Bermuda’s 2nd record); Lapland Longspur. From the south, we’ve had Glossy Ibis and Purple Gallinule. From the east a Little Egret (Bermuda’s 3rd) and a possible Grey Heron (a potential ‘first’). Finally, another new species for Bermuda, an adult California Gull, a species that should have been wintering on the Pacific Coast.

Petrels to Ducks

A shearwater sp. (probably Manx) crossed the Causeway during a gale on 28 Jan (EA).  Manx Shearwaters were passing Elbow Beach 16 Mar (AD), but the subsequent shearwater passage has been very sparse due to unfavourable winds. An early White-tailed Tropicbird was seen off the east end of Bermuda 2 Jan (GA). A Northern Gannet at Ferry Reach 8 Jan (PH) was the first of three immature birds to appear in Jan. There are only a handful of previous records for this species.  One of the immature Northern Gannets seen during the winter months was still present in Bermuda waters up to at least 18 May. The long-staying Snow Goose remains at Outerlea Farm despite the other six geese leaving in mid-March. A possible Grey Heron (photo) has sparked much debate since being noticed at Spittal Pond 7 May (EA). If consenus can be reached on separating it from Great Blue Heron, it will be another new record for Bermuda. Bermuda’s third Little Egret was discovered at Spittal Pond 5 Feb (IF) and again present in mid-May despite wandering the island. A Glossy Ibis was present at Kindley Field to at least 19 Mar (AD). Five wintering Canada Geese was a record high for Bermuda, with four at Spittal Pond and one at Jubilee Road 11 Dec-Mar (AD). A female Eurasian Wigeon was at Warwick Pond 1 Feb (EA). Between 30-40 American Black Ducks arrived following a storm on 15 Jan (AD). A male Eurasian Teal stayed on Warwick Pond 25 Jan-Mar (SR). A female Northern Pintail was still at Spittal Pond 8 May (AD). A White-winged Scoter was found at Fairylands Creek 22 Jan (DW) but was picked up dead on 24 Jan. Another White-winged Scoter (1st winter male) appeared at Somerset Long Bay NR 25 Jan –29 Mar (AD, SR). These two birds represent only the third and fourth records for Bermuda. Fourteen wintering Hooded Mergansers is a Bermuda record, with 12 at Spittal Pond and 2 at Warwick Pond (AD). A female Common Merganser was at Watford Bridge 25 Jan (PJH).

Hawks to Puffins

A Sharp-shinned Hawk was a surprise over the Hamilton Harbour Islands 9 May (PW). The second buteo hawk reported in the last newsletter was confirmed as another Red-tailed Hawk. Much excitement has followed with the two birds seen displaying together regularly over Morgan’s Point since mid-March. A Purple Gallinule was on Paget Marsh Pond 6 Jan-Mar (AD). A migrant Killdeer was at Outerlea Farm 8 May (JO, DBW). Two Black-necked Stilts arrived at Spittal Pond 7 May (EA) increasing to a maximum of 8. An Upland Sandpiper (photo left) at East End Dairy 25 Apr (DBW) was a nice spring surprise. A flock of 18 Sanderling at Marley Beach 6 Jan was unusual (AD). Few other migrants shorebirds were recorded, but included Solitary, Semipalmated, Least and Pectoral Sandpipers. A Red Phalarope was picked up injured from Point Finger Road 31 Jan (JG) and died shortly after.  The paucity of shearwaters so far this spring has also been mirrored by jaegers. Both Pomarine and Long-tailed Jaegers were seen past Elbow Beach 27 Apr (AD). An adult Laughing Gull was seen in various parts of the island in early May. Of the smaller gulls to arrive, a first-winter Black-headed Gull was at Rockaway 28 Jan (IF, PW) and a flock of 15 Bonaparte’s Gulls was over Spittal Pond Jan (JM, SR). but the gull of the season was Bermuda’s first California Gull, an adult, at Dockyard 1-8 May (PW). A first-winter Iceland Gull was in Hamilton Harbour 3-8 Mar (AD, PW, DBW). A Glaucous Gull flew along North Shore on 15 Jan (JM). A dead Atlantic Puffin was discovered on the beach at Tobacco Bay 14 Mar (PW).

Cuckoo to Bobolink

A Yellow-billed Cuckoo was at Spittal Pond 18 Apr (DBW). At least three Short-eared Owls wintered, with three seen together at the Airport 2 Jan (PW). One of the Short-eared Owls was still at the Airport 18 Apr (DWal). An Eastern Kingbird was seen at Parson’s Road Pond 23 Apr (G&SH). Single Yellow-throated Vireos were seen at Botanical Gardens 13-21 Apr (AD) and AB Smith Reserve 14 Apr (SR). The first of 3 Horned Larks was at Bermuda Airport 31 Jan (EA). American Pipits (14) remained at the Airport 6 Mar (AD). A Bohemian Waxwing was an exceptional find on Port Royal GC 18 Jan (SR), the only record of this species other than a flock of five in 2001. A Yellow Warbler was on St. George’s GC 10 Jan (PW).  Few spring migrant warblers were recorded. A Palm Warbler at Marsh Lane 7 May (AD) was a noteable exception. A Swainson’s Warbler on Morgan’s Point 4 Mar (AD, PS) had probably over-wintered. A Wilson’s Warbler was in the Smiths Hills 4 Mar (DWal).  One Summer Tanager was recorded (DBW) 10 Apr at Pilchard Bay. Two stunning male Scarlet Tanagers (photo) were seen individually at Tamarind Vale 28 Apr (BH) and again in Warwick 6 May (WF). While scanning through a dozen Savannah Sparrows at Kindley Field 19 Mar, a Vesper Sparrow was heard singing and photographed (AD). The last date of the wintering Swamp Sparrows was one recorded at Spittal Pond 28 Mar (AD). A Lapland Longspur was at Bermuda Airport 7 Feb (AD). The first of a small influx of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks was noted at Compston’s Pond 25 Apr (AD). A Blue Grosbeak was at Spittal Pond 18 Apr (DBW). A Bobolink was singing from a fence post at Spittal Pond farm 8 May (SR).


The Greater Flamingo, ‘Flo’, has been sighted all around Bermuda, even making a low-level pass along Front Street during the morning rush-hour 15 Apr (LM). A Sulphur-crested Cockatoo was flying around the Bailey’s Bay area on 22 May (AD).


Observers: Eric Amos, Gerry Ardis, Andrew Dobson, Ian Fisher, Wendy Frith, Jennifer Gray, John O’Halloran, Gene and Susan Harvey, Peter Holmes, Peter Hopkin (PJH), Bertie Horsfield, Ray and Kay Latter (R&KL), Jeremy Madeiros, Leila Madeiros, Steve Rodwell, Keith Rossiter, Penny Soares, David Wallace (DW), Paul Watson, David Wingate (DBW).



The highlight of the season has been the successful translocation of Cahow (Bermuda Petrel) chicks to a new breeding site. Translocation had been agreed upon even before Hurricane Fabian (Sept 2003) destroyed a number of nesting burrows. Of 29 fledglings this year, 14 chicks were translocated to Nonsuch Island and all fledged successfully. The same practice will be continued in coming years and gives hope to a continuing increase in breeding pairs in more suitable habitat.

A pair of Pied-billed Grebes again nested at Somerset Long Bay N.R. Bermuda (DW). An ad Red-tailed Tropicbird was seen at Nonsuch Is. Bermuda 21 Jul (JM), possibly the same bird as in 2001 and 2003. Green Herons, which were first proved breeding in Bermuda in 2002, bred in a number of new locations, with a total of about 12 pairs (AD). A Snow Goose remained at Outerlea Farm, Bermuda to 31 Jul+(AD). A male Wood Duck was at Pembroke Marsh, Bermuda 20 Jun (PH, SR). A female Hooded Merganser at Spittal Pond, Bermuda 28-31 Jul+ (DW) provided the first-ever summer record. The pair of long-staying Red-tailed Hawks was seen throughout June over Morgan’s Point, Bermuda (AD, DW). A Purple Gallinule was found dead in Southampton, Bermuda 23 June (DW). Summering shorebirds on Bermuda included Black-bellied Plover (3) and Whimbrel (4) at Bermuda’s airport (EA, PW), single Sanderling on Nonsuch Island (JM, DW) and the first summering record for Pectoral Sandpiper at Spittal Pond (AD, EA). Black-necked Stilts departed North Pond, Bermuda 23 Jul (DW). Bermuda’s first fall shorebirds were noted in early July with Lesser Yellowlegs at Spittal Pond 3 Jul (EA), Spotted Sandpiper in St David’s 10 Jul (PW), Western Sandpiper at Spittal Pond 19 Jul (DW) and Pectoral Sandpiper at Compston’s Pond 9 Jul (AD). Three imm Laughing Gulls were at Dockyard, Bermuda 6 Jun (AD).  A Franklin’s Gull was picked up dead at Clearwater Beach, Bermuda 1 Jun (GP). A Gull-billed Tern was at North Pond, Bermuda 18-21 Jun (EA). A Roseate Tern was in Castle Harbour, Bermuda 10 Jul & 21 Jul (DW, JM). Hurricane Fabian, which hit Bermuda 5 Sep 2003, must have devastated the local breeding population of Common Terns because only 6 of the 17 pairs returned in 2004 and these failed to breed. This is the first record of total breeding failure in 50 years of observation (DW).

Observers: Eric Amos, Andrew Dobson, Peter Hopkin, Jeremy Madeiros, Steve Rodwell, Paul Watson, David Wingate.


July to November

The fall period in Bermuda starts in July, with the first shorebirds heading south, and continues through to November with ducks and sparrows. All observers agree that this has been a very poor year in terms of total numbers of birds seen. Although weather systems were not favourable over Bermuda for much of the peak migration period, alarm bells have been sounding for some time on the North American continent for the decline in breeding birds. Nevertheless, a large variety of birds was recorded in Bermuda this fall.


Petrels to Terns

The first Cahow returned 14 Oct (JM). About 16 Cahows were seen from Cooper’s Point late afternoon 3 Nov (AD, PH). Double-crested Cormorants were not noted 25 Oct (EA). An American Bittern was at Seymour’s Pond 3 Nov (EA). The long-staying Little Egret was at Hungry Bay 6 Sept (DBW). A Canada Goose seen over St.David’s 4 Oct (GA) settled at Outerlea Dairy. A male Eurasian Wigeon joined American Wigeons at Spittal Pond 25 Oct (EA). A flock of 12 Ring-necked Ducks was on Parsons Road Pond 1 Nov (DW). A summering Hooded Merganser remained into the fall. October birds of prey included at least two Ospreys and four or five Peregrine Falcons. One of the ‘resident’ Red-tailed Hawks was photographed 13 Sept at Ports Island (DW). A Virginia Rail was taken into captivity at BAMZ 8 Nov (JG). Summering Black-necked Stilts remained into mid-July. The shorebird passage was not as dramatic as in some years. The lack of mud-flats at either Spittal or Warwick Ponds did little to attract birds. The first shorebirds arrived in early July. Notable sightings included: Willet 4 Sept at Dockyard (AD), Western Sandpiper 19 Jul (DBW), Baird’s Sandpiper 12 Sept at East End Dairy (DBW) and 23 to 26 Sept at Astwood Park (AD), and a Curlew Sandpiper at Spittal Pond 17 Oct (AD). A Black-headed Gull 29 Oct to17 Nov was first seen in Castle Harbour (DBW). Most other gulls, including Lesser Black-backed, arrived in late Oct and Nov. A Black Tern was seen off Cambridge Beaches 29 Sept (PW).


Nighthawks to Buntings

A flock of six Common Nighthawks was over Belmont Hills GC 17 Oct (AD). A Ruby-throated Hummingbird was a lucky find at Stokes Point NR 27 Sept to 15 Oct (AD). A Northern Flicker was calling loudly at Port Royal GC 29 to 30 Oct (DW). It has been a good year for flycatcher records. More than a dozen Eastern Wood-Pewees were scattered widely. Amongst the empidonax species, there was one Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 17 to 21 Oct at Coral Beach Club (DW) and two Acadian Flycatchers at Ferry Point 16 to 18 Oct (AD) and Hog Bay Park 18 Oct (AD). A Great Crested Flycatcher remained at Stokes Point Reserve 29 Sept to 3 Oct (DBW). A Yellow-throated Vireo was at Coral Beach Club 17 Oct (DW), while a Blue-headed Vireo was in Walsingham Jungle 15 Oct (JM). The number of swallows has been disappointing. A Northern Rough-winged Swallow was at Wreck Road 5 Oct (EA, DW). A late Bank Swallow was over Daniel’s Head Farm 6 Nov (AD, DBW). A Red-breasted Nuthatch video-taped at Fort Scaur 16 to 17 Oct (EA). Single Golden-crowned Kinglets were at Fort Scaur 13 Oct (DW) and the Arboretum 16 Nov (DW). Thrushes are now so scarce that it will soon be possible to record all sightings in the report. An early American Robin was at Port Royal GC 16 Oct (DW). A Northern Mockingbird was a surprise at Spittal Pond 17 Oct (DBW). An American Pipit was seen at the Airport 3 Nov (PW). Although 35 warbler species have been recorded this fall, their numbers have been depressingly low. Two Golden-winged Warblers were reported, at Cemetery Hill 16 Oct (AD) and Riddell’s Bay GC 30 Oct (DW). A smattering of migrant sparrow species arrived in October as well as a Snow Bunting 30 Oct on Horn Rock (JM). Indigo Buntings have been very common, with one flock containing about 150 birds at Heydon Trust 18 Oct (DW).

Observers: Eric Amos, Gerry Ardis, Andrew Dobson, Wendy Frith, Jennifer Gray, Peter Hopkin, Jeremy Madeiros, David Wallace (DW), Paul Watson, David Wingate (DBW).

Longtail in flight Bermuda


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Bluebird in flight, worm in mouth, bluebird box


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Cahow in flight Bermuda


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

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