BirdTrax: Latest Sightings

December 2004 – February 2005

The winter season began quietly, but as the weather worsened into January and early February, with cool temperatures and high winds, the birding got much better! The 45.8ºF on 24 Jan was the lowest for about 50 years. Highlights of the period included the first record of Kirtland’s Warbler in Bermuda, the second record of American White Pelican, the third and fourth records of Rough-legged Hawk, a Sabine’s Gull and two Horned Grebes.

Grebes to Hawks

Two Horned Grebes were in Castle Harbour 6 Feb (IF, PW). Three American White Pelicans flew along South Shore near Spittal pond, crossing the island to North Shore on 2 Jan (HD, DS). There is only one previous record for this species in Bermuda. A Great Cormorant was in the Great Sound 5 Feb (IF, PW). American Bitterns have been seen regularly at Paget Marsh and Seymour’s Pond. An immature Snow Goose appeared on Warwick Academy sports field 18 Dec (JH), while a Canada Goose briefly appeared at Southampton Princess Pond 23 (AD).  Single Eurasian Teal males were first noted on Southampton Princess Pond 23 Jan (AD, PH) and Parsons Road Pond 30 Jan (TW). Five wintering Common Goldeneye is a new record count, with three at Spittal from 26 Jan (DW) and two more at Mangrove Lake from 1 Feb (DW) Feb including an adult male. Birds of prey have included Osprey, the long-staying Red-tailed Hawks, Northern Harrier (2), American Kestrel and Merlin. But the arrival of two Rough-legged Hawks at the airport 26 Jan (DH, PHol) and 1 Feb (DH) is quite exceptional as there are only two previous records for this species in Bermuda.

Shorebirds to Terns

Of the less common wintering shorebirds, single Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs have been seen, as well as a Red Knot 18 Dec at Spanish Point (BL, JT). An American Avocet at Ocean View GC 21 Jan (RL) was the first winter arrival for this species and a rare Bermuda record. A first-winter Black-headed Gull was in Hamilton Harbour 26 Dec (IF, PW). A high count of up to 30 Lesser Black-backed Gulls this winter was noteworthy, but the unusual gulls arrived during the storms of late Jan/early Feb. An Iceland Gull was seen at Coney Island 27 Jan (PW) and by the first week of Feb had been joined by two more Iceland Gulls and Glaucous Gulls (2) at various locations (IF, PW). A real find was an adult Sabine’s Gull off Cooper’s Point 3 Feb (IF, PW).  A Black-legged Kittiwake passed Cooper’s Point 6 Feb (AD, IF et al) while an adult came inshore 7 Feb (IF, DW). A Forster’s Tern has wintered at Dockyard.

Owls to Redpoll

A Long-eared Owl was reported from Hog Bay Park 5 Feb (LH), while a Short-eared Owl was seen at the airport 13 Jan (DH). Hummingbird species, most likely Ruby-throated were seen 18 Dec at Port Royal GC (EA) and Orange Valley Road (BL), 9 Jan near Astwood Park (TW), and 31 Jan Lighthouse Hill (PT). A Northern Flicker was on Port Royal GC 3 Jan (AD). An Eastern Phoebe was seen at Compston’s Pond 18 Dec (DBW), with a second at Wreck Road 2 Jan (WF). A Yellow-throated Vireo was a rare winter record at Morgan’s Point 1 Jan (AD, PW). A Blue-headed Vireo was seen in Devonshire Marsh 20 Dec (JM). Horned Larks (3) were discovered at the airport 25 Jan (DH). Tree Swallow (2) and Barn Swallow were both recorded 18 Dec at East End Dairy (PW). At least one Hermit Thrush wintered at Hog Bay Park. Six American Robins were at Morgan’s Point 1 Jan (AD, PW). A Northern Mockingbird was banded at the Biological Station in early Dec. A late Yellow Warbler was seen at Waterville 1 Dec (DW). A Townsend’s Warbler was at Orange Valley Road 19 Dec (BL). A Kirtland’s Warbler was found on the CBC 18 Dec (EA) – see separate article. A Swainson’s Warbler was seen 16 Jan at Ocean View GC (AD, TW). Wintering sparrows included a Grasshopper Sparrow at Lover’s Lake  (DW). Dark-eyed Juncos have wintered at Port Royal and Mid-Ocean GC. Snow Buntings (2) have wintered on the Castle Harbour Islands (JM). A Dickcissel was recorded 18 Dec at Talbot Estate (EA). A Common Redpoll was at Cooper’s Island 5 Feb (IF).

Observers: Eric Amos, Heather DeSilva, Andrew Dobson, Ian Fisher, Wendy Frith, Linda Hartley, Junior Hill, Peter Holmes (PHol), Peter Hopkin (PH), Ray Latter, Bruce Lorhan, Jeremy Madeiros, David Smith, James Tatem, Peggy Thompson,  David Wallace (DW), Paul Watson, Tim Wershler, David Wingate (DBW).

March to July 2005

Highlights of this report include: a record shearwater movement; summer records of Merlin and Bonaparte’s Gull; Bermuda’s 4th Bridled Tern; unprecedented numbers of dead Atlantic Puffins; two Rough-winged Swallows and Bermuda’s 4th Brown Thrasher.

Grebes to Ibis

Pied-billed Grebe young were at Parson's Road Pond 27 Mar (AD). Two wintering Horned Grebes were still in Castle Harbour 24 Mar (JM). Another good year for Cahows after the set-back following Hurricane Fabian (2003). A record 71 pairs produced 35 chicks, of which 21 were successfully translocated and fledged from Nonsuch Island (JM). The big Greater Shearwater passage occurred on 3/4 June. By the second day, birds were passing Cooper’s Point at about 1,000 per hour – one of the best-ever counts. Andrew Dobson comments: “I watched from Cooper's Point, Jeremy and Leila was also counting from Nonsuch. During the morning, birds were moving at such a rate that a dozen could be seen in one telescope view! I decided to note the number of minutes taken to count 100 birds. The quickest was 5 mins (1200 per hour) and the longest 8 mins (750 per hour) - and this was going on all morning. So 1,000 per hour won't be far wrong. As to species - the vast majority were Greater. All morning I only noted about 6 Manx, 20 Sooties and about 100 Cory's.” Sooty Shearwaters were peaking at 40 per hour 21 May at Cooper's Point (AD). The first Manx Shearwaters (40) were seen passing Cooper’s Point 29 Mar (PW), with a maximum of 120 per hour 9 Apr at Devonshire Bay (AD). A Canada Goose was briefly present at Spittal Pond 13 May (FH, PS). A pair of Wood Ducks was at Parson's Road 24 Mar (TW). A Eurasian Teal (male) revealed itself at North Pond in Mar (PW) making a record three wintering individuals which remained into Apr. A Greater Scaup was seen in June on Parson’s Road Pond (EA).  The Little Egret was re-located at Paget Island 30 Mar (PW). A Glossy Ibis was at Spittal Pond 3 Apr-13 May (AD).

Birds of Prey to Puffins

Separate Ospreys were present throughout the period at the East End and Castle Harbour area.A Swallow-tailed Kite was over Camp Hill 13 Mar-17 Apr (RP) with two at Riddell’s Bay GC 17 Apr (per. DW).Two Northern Harriers were over the Airport perimeter on 18 Mar (AD). A Sharp-shinned Hawk was seen over Nonsuch Island 4 Apr (DBW) and 16 Apr at Abbott’s Cliff (PW). The two long-staying Red-tailed Hawks were over Morgan's Point 29 Apr (DW). One of the two wintering Rough-legged Hawks was still present at the Airport 3 Mar (AD). A Merlin over Tee Street 3 Jul provided the first ever summer record (AD, PJH). A Virginia Rail was at Spittal Pond 3-6 Apr (AD). Shorebirds noted at Spittal Pond in Apr/May included: Greater Yellowlegs (2), Lesser Yellowlegs (3), Solitary Sandpiper (2), Spotted Sandpiper, Red Knot (2), Semipalmated Sandpiper (10), Least Sandpipers (2), Stilt Sandpiper, and Short-billed Dowitcher. A male Ruff was at Spittal Pond 25 Apr (DBW). A  Wilson’s Phalarope was at Spittal Pond 31 May (DW). A Great Skua passed over Cooper's Point 21 May (AD, PW). A Bonaparte’s Gull seen throughout much of June provided the first summer record for this species (PW). A Gull-billed Tern flew over Bartram’s Pond 20 June (EA). A Royal Tern was seen in various locations 11-20 Apr (DBW, PW). A Roseate Tern was in Castle Harbour 11and 30 May (DBW, PW). The first returning Common Tern was noted in Harrington Sound 31 Mar (JG). An adult Bridled Tern (the fourth record for Bermuda) was seen of the East End 12 Jun (PW). At least nine dead Atlantic Puffins were found at various locations around Bermuda 9 Mar-13 Apr. This unfortunate discovery is remarkable in that there have only been six previously records (also corpses). Cause of death may well have been an intensive low pressure system that forced birds south into poor feeding areas.

Swifts to Buntings

The first Chimney Swift was noted over Jenningsland 18 Apr (JM) with a maximum of seven at St. Georges GC 25 May (PW). There were several reports of a summering Belted Kingfisher in June.  An Eastern Kingbird was at Clearwater 30 Mar-6 Apr (AD), with another at Wreck Hill 4 May (WF). A Yellow-throated Vireo was seen at Stokes Point Reserve 17 Apr (DBW). Yellow-throated and Red-eyed Vireos were at Fort Scaur 24 Apr (WF, DW). Two Purple Martins were over Astwood Park 16 Mar (AD). Two Tree Swallows at the Airport 10 Mar provided the first of our land-based migrants. Spittal Pond hosted a variety of swallow species, including: two rare Rough-winged Swallows (a Bermuda maxima) 26 Apr (DW), a Bank Swallow 30 May-2 June (DW) and a Cliff Swallow 24 Mar (AD). A Swainson’s Thrush was seen at Bartram’s Pond 2 May (EA). A Brown Thrasher (see photo) was almost certainly a ship-assisted arrival in the City of Hamilton 2 May (GG). Cedar Waxwings were commonly observed, with large flocks at Spittal Pond (35) 23 Apr (AD) and Wreck Hill (50) 4 May (WF). A Golden-winged Warbler provided a rare spring record at Fort Scaur 10 Apr (WF). A Magnolia Warbler was at Fort Scaur 1 May (AD). The wintering Townsend’s Warbler was last seen in Orange Valley Road 3 Mar (BL). A Palm Warbler was noted at Fort Scaur 5 May (AD). A Bay-breasted Warbler was at Fort Scaur 24 Apr (WF). A Prothonotary Warbler was on Nonsuch Island 2 Apr (JM) with other sightings during the month. A Northern Waterthrush 1 Jun (latest spring date) at Somerset Long Bay NR (DW) provided a very rare June warbler record. A Louisiana Waterthrush was at North Pond 2 Apr (EA). A Kentucky Warbler was seen at Hungry Bay 5 Apr (GH). A Scarlet Tanager was at Fort Scaur 24 Apr- 4 May (WF). A Chipping Sparrow was at Fort Scaur 5 Mar with two Dark-eyed Juncos (AD). A Swamp Sparrow was at Somerset Long Bay NR 26 Mar (AD). A Lapland Longspur at Astwood Park 16 Mar (TW) was a rare spring record. There were numerous reports of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and Indigo Buntings during April and May. A male Blue Grosbeak was seen in Paget 20 Apr (AD).

Observers: Eric Amos, Andrew Dobson, Wendy Frith, Gertrude Gierlinger, Jennifer Gray, Gene Harvey, Felicity Holmes, Peter Holmes (PJH), Peter Hopkin (PH), Bruce Lorhan, Jeremy and Leila Madeiros, Ron Porter, Penny Soares, David Wallace (DW), Paul Watson, Tim Wershler, David Wingate (DBW).

August to September 2005

The season’s highlights included the first record of Grey Heron in Bermuda; the second records of Garganey and White-winged Dove; two Eurasian Wigeons, Black Rail, 70 Magnificent Frigatebirds, Hudsonian Godwit, Baird’s Sandpiper, record gull and tern counts, Caspian Tern (Bermuda’s 3rd record), record Chimney Swifts, two Northern Wheatear, three Winter Wrens (Bermuda’s 6th, 7th, 8th records) and Townsend’s Warbler.

Cahow to Gallinule

The first returning Cahows were noted 19 Oct. A Leach's Storm-Petrel was seen off-shore 28 Oct (PW). An immature Masked Booby was photographed off West Whale Bay in early Sep., and another died in captivity at BAMZ 4 Aug (JG). An immature Northern Gannet was seen off North Shore 9 Dec and 22 Dec (PW). A Magnificent Frigatebird was over castle Harbour 4 Sep (KD, AD, JM). Following the record influx of about 70 Magnificent Frigatebirds from Hurricane Wilma, a single frigatebird was seen as late as 21 Dec (FH). An American Bittern is wintering in Devonshire Marsh (DBW). A Least Bittern was at Riddell’s Bay GC 14 Sept (JM) and Paget Marsh 15 Nov (AD). A record 28 Great Blue Herons were seen at Frank’s Bay 26 Oct (DW). Bermuda’s first Grey Heron (moribund) was found at Kindley Field 7 Oct (DW). A possible adult Grey Heron was at Spittal Pond 11 Dec (DBW).There was a noticeable arrival of herons and egrets about 22 Oct prior to the passage of Hurricane Wilma. Thirty Cattle Egrets were at the Airport 24 Nov (PW). A Black-crowned Night-Heron flew into Flatts 20 Nov (PH). Three Snow Geese were on the Airport 11-13 Dec (EH, SH). Two Eurasian Wigeon arrived at Spittal Pond 20 Oct (DBW). A Northern Shoveler was on Parson’s Road Pond from 29 Oct (DBW). A Northern Pintail was on the Princess Pond 2 Nov (DW). Another Eurasian vagrant, a Garganey (Bermuda’s 2nd record) was identified by PW, present at Spittal Pond from at least 10 Oct. The long-staying Red-tailed Hawk was seen over the Hamilton Harbour Islands 17 Nov (DBW). Sharp-shinned Hawks and Peregrine Falcons were reported from both ends of the island in October. Paul Watson flushed what was almost certainly a Black Rail from the edge of North Pond 24 Nov. There have only been a couple of similar brief sightings of this tiny bird since recorded by Hurdis in Bermuda in 1851! Paul commented: “Seen at a distance of about 15-20 feet as it flew from the SE corner of the pond onto one of the small islands on SE corner, very small all black bird about the size of a very dumpy sparrow, white spots on lower back seen, and large trailing feet noted in flight. The bird flew into long marsh grass on island, and it did not come out ….” Virginia Rails were seen at Wreck Hill (WF), Heydon Trust (AD) and Spittal Pond (RL, KL) in Oct. A Purple Gallinule was reported from Spittal Pond 20-21 Oct (DBW).

Shorebirds to Terns

At least 27 species of shorebirds have been recorded this fall. With high water levels on most ponds, the birds have been mainly found on golf courses and farm fields. A record 50 Semipalmated Plover on 17 Sep, including 25 in one field at Lukes Farm (AD).  Piping Plovers were at Cooper’s Island (1), Grape Bay (2) and one seen into Dec at Spanish Point.  A shorebird with red legs flushed from White’s Island 1 Oct gave brief views, but enough to suggested Spotted Redshank, a species never before recorded in Bermuda (PW). A late Willet was at Hungry Bay 20 Nov (GH). One Upland Sandpiper was recorded from Tuckers Town GC on 11 Sep (JM).  A Hudsonian Godwit was discovered at Pitman’s Pond 7 Sep-Oct (AD). A Red Knot was at Riddell’s Bay GC 4 Dec (DW). A record 35 White-rumped Sandpipers were at various locations 18 Sep (AD). A Baird’s Sandpiper was on Port Royal GC 19-20 Sept (AD). A Dunlin was at Daniel’s Head 20 Sept (DW). Several Buff-breasted Sandpipers were recorded during the fall. Hurricane Wilma produced a record 30 Laughing Gulls at various locations 4 Nov (AD), and a record 5 Franklin’s Gulls at Ferry Point 4 Nov (PW). A Franklin’s Gull was still present in Hamilton Harbour 3 Dec (AD). A Black-headed Gull was present 13 Nov-Dec (AD, NB) at various locations. A Caspian Tern (Bermuda’s 3rd record) passed Elbow Beach 27 Oct (PH) and Ferry Point 31 Oct (PA). Royal Terns (28) and Sandwich Terns (200) were extraordinary record counts following Hurricane Wilma. A few birds remained into Dec. A Roseate Tern was at Ferry Point 29 Oct (AD) and joined by a second bird. A record six Forster’s Terns were together in Hamilton Harbour 27 Nov (PW). A Bridled Tern was at Charles Island 26 Oct (JM). A Sooty Tern was off Ruth’s Point 28 Oct (PW). Single Bridled and Sooty Terns were seen together in the Little Sound 7 Nov (TW). A Black Tern was in Hamilton Harbour 1 Nov (PW).

Doves to Buntings

Bermuda’s second White-winged Dove was discovered in St. George’s 5 Dec (PW). Mid-October saw the arrival of several dozen Yellow-billed Cuckoos. Black-billed Cuckoos were reported from many locations including a late record at Pembroke Marsh 29 Nov (PW). Only a few Common Nighthawks were noted. Up to ten Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers also appeared at various locations and Hurricane Wilma produced record numbers of Chimney Swifts (100+). Three well-watched swifts at Cooper’s Island 1 Nov (PW) suggested Vaux’s Swift, a species not previously recorded in Bermuda. It has not been a notable year for flycatchers. Eastern Wood-Pewee was first noted 8 Oct at Cooper’s Island (AD, PW). An Acadian Flycatcher was on St. Georges GC 26 Oct (PW). There were few records of other empidonax species. Eastern Phoebes have been seen in Nov and Dec at Spittal Pond, North Pond and Jubilee Road. A Western Kingbird was at Kindley Field 5 Dec (PW). A Blue-headed Vireo was at Port Royal GC 4 Dec (AD, PA). A Warbling Vireo was at Fort Scaur 2 Oct (AD) and also with a Philadelhia Vireo at the Biological Station 18 Oct (AD). Three Winter Wrens were discovered at St. Georges GC 26-28 Oct (PW), Port Royal GC 28 Oct (AD) and 15 Dec (EA) and Ferry Point 4 Nov (PW). A Northern Rough-winged Swallow was at East End Dairy 29 Nov (AD). All the regular swallow migrants were recorded, with a large influx of Barn Swallows in mid- Oct, including 50 at Outerlea Farm 15 Oct (AD). A Ruby-crowned Kinglet was at the Biological Station 18 Oct (PW). A Northern Wheatear on St. Georges GC 27-28 Aug (PW) was an exceptional find, being three weeks in advance of the earliest record. Another was found on Horn Rock 24 Oct (JM). There was a better showing of thrushes than in recent years. A Veery was discovered on St. Georges GC 8 Oct (DBW). Veery, Grey-cheeked Thrush and Swainson’s Thrush were all feeding on a fruiting ficus tree at the Biological Station in mid-October. The same tree also hosted five species of vireo, numerous warbler species, Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Baltimore Oriole! Hermit Thrushes were seen in St. Georges Cemetery 21 Nov (PW) and Jenningsland  7-10 Dec (JM). An American Robin was at Cedar Grove 22 Oct (AD). American Pipits have been scarce on the Airport, but were also reported from Belmont GC 9 Oct (2) and Penhurst Park 25 Nov (PA). Cedar Waxwings were at the Heydon Trust 17 Oct (AD). Following worries about the lack of warbler species this fall, good numbers finally arrived in mid-October and 36 species have been recorded, including single sightings of Cerulean Warbler 17 Oct St. Georges GC (PW), Townsend’s Warbler 24 Oct at Scaur Hill (AD), Kentucky Warbler in Jenningsland 12 Nov (JM) and Yellow-breasted Chat in Walsingham 2 Nov (JM).  A Mourning Warbler 4 Sep (DBW) may have been the earliest ecord. Summer and Scarlet Tanagers were recorded from various locations. A late Blue Grosbeak was seen at Parson’s Road 8 Dec (DW). Late fall saw the arrival of a number of the rarer sparrow species including: Clay-coloured Sparrow 18 Oct at Ferry Point (PW); Vesper Sparrows at Parson’s Road 3 Nov (DW), Port Royal GC 4 Dec (AD, PA) and Ferry Point 9 Dec (EH, SH)and Dickcissels at St Georges GC 16 Oct (PW) and Cedar Grove 22 Oct (DW). A Dark-eyed Junco was at St. George’s Cemetery 8 Oct (PW). A Lapland Longspur was on the Causeway 13 Nov (AD, NB). A Snow Bunting was seen at the Airport 12 Dec (PW). A Common Grackle was seen at Paget Marsh 13 Nov (KL, RL).

Observers: Peter Adhemar, Eric Amos, Ned Brinkley, Andrew and Katrina Dobson, Wendy Frith, Jennifer Gray, Gene and Susan Harvey, Felicity Holmes, Peter Holmes (PJH), Peter Hopkin (PH),  Kay and Ray Latter, Jeremy and Leila Madeiros, David Wallace (DW), Paul Watson, Tim Wershler, 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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