BirdTrax: Latest Sightings

January to May 2008

Highlights in the period included the first record for Purple Sandpiper in Bermuda, the second record of Cave Swallow, a rare sighting of Black Rail, and the first sighting of a Snowy Owl for 20 years.

A pair of Pied-billed Grebes produced five chicks 13 May on the new reserve at Somerset Long Bay (WF). Four Bermuda Petrel chicks which were translocated and fledged from Nonsuch Is. in 2005 returned to prospect on the island in Feb-Apr. It is hoped that they will return to breed next year. This is the first time that birds have returned to Nonsuch Island for nearly 400 years! (JM). Returning White-tailed Tropicbirds were first noted 24 Feb (AD), about a week later than usual. A juv. Brown Pelican was on Pearl Island 26 May (PW). A Great Cormorant roosted at Nonsuch Is. from mid-Feb to May 4 (JM). An American Bittern was flushed from Firefly Reserve 5 Jan (AD, DW). The long-staying Grey Heron was in Tuckers Town Bay 18 Jan (JM). Two Canada Geese were on Port Royal GC 13 Feb (RC) and one remained at North Pond into May, while a Brant (Bermuda’s 9th) was on Tucker’s Point GC 1 Dec-4 Apr (AD). An imm. swan sp. was seen flying over Port Royal GC 14 Jan (DW). Eighteen duck species were recorded during the winter period. A Eurasian Wigeon found in Dec was re-discovered in Harrington Sound 18 Apr, still present 17 May (DBW). A male Eurasian Teal finally revealed itself 20 Jan-2 Mar on Spittal Pond (DBW). A Common Goldeneye was on Parson’s Road Pond 12 Jan-1 Mar (DW). A Swallow-tailed Kite was seen in various locations 10 Mar-2 Apr (RL, KL). A Peregrine Falcon wintered (AD et al). The two long-staying Red-tailed Hawks remained throughout the period and were seen displaying and nest building in Apr (DBW). A Purple Gallinule was at Cooper’s Island N.R. 21 May (JA, BM). A Least Sandpiper was seen at various locations during the winter period (AD, DBW). A Gull-billed Tern was at Spittal Pond 4-10 May (RG). An Iceland Gull was in the Great Sound 2 Feb (AD). At least two Piping Plovers wintered at Cooper’s Is. and Grape Bay (AD). A Purple Sandpiper discovered by AD and DW on the breakwater jetty at Dockyard 6 Jan was the first record for Bermuda (see separate article). A Eurasian Collared Dove (of debatable origin) was near the Govt. Quarry 16 May (PW). A Short-eared Owl was at the Airport 16-18 May (JA, BM), the latest spring date. At least four Common Nighthawks were seen at various locations 13-17 May (JA, PJH, BM, KR). A hummingbird species was reported from a St. Anne’s Road, Southampton garden on 30 Jan and again on 10 Mar (DBW), so it had presumably over-wintered. A Grey Kingbird was at Spittal Pond 31 May (RG). A Tree Swallow was over Somerset on 19 Dec and Ship’s Hill Pond 26-28 Jan (DW). Bermuda’s second Cave Swallow  was discovered at Daniel’s Head Farm on 3 May (WF, DBW). A record four Yellow-throated Vireos were seen this winter at Morgan’s Point 29 Dec (EA), St. Georges 29 Dec (PW), Arboretum 11 Jan (DW) and Botanical Gardens 12 Jan (DW). A Northern Mockingbird spent 18-20 Mar at East Shore Lane, Somerset (PH). Of 22 warbler species recorded during the winter season, the more unusual included Nashville Warbler 24 Jan at Warwick Pond (DW) and Swainson’s Warbler 15 Feb-9 Mar  Riddell’s Bay mangroves (AD, DW). A Lincoln's Sparrow was at Horseshoe Bay dunes 29 Jan (DW). A Grasshopper Sparrow was at Southside 3 Feb (AD). A Dickcissel was photographed at bird-feeder in Warwick 14 Apr providing a rare spring record (JT). A Common Redpoll was at Cloverdale 17 Jan (DW) and seven at Little Head Park 26 Jan (AD). A Summer Tanager was calling in the Arboretum 8-11 Jan (AD).

June to July

The highlight in the period was the first record in Bermuda of Black-bellied Whistling-Duck.

One breeding pair of Pied-billed Grebes produced five young on Pitman's Pond (DBW). Recovery of the endangered Bermuda Petrel continues with a record 85 breeding pairs raising a record 40 fledglings (JM). A Magnificent Frigatebird was seen at various locations 2-7 Jun (WF, PH). A Masked Booby was at Sally Tuckers, off the west end of Bermuda 7 Jul (CB). Summering heron species included Great Blue Heron, Great Egret (2) and Snowy Egret (1), while an ad. Tricolored Heron was at Spittal Pond 11-12 July and ad. Cattle Egret at Spittal Pond 21 Jun-11 Jul (DBW).  A Black-bellied Whistling-Duck found at Somerset Long Bay Pond 30 Jun (DBW) was the first record for Bermuda. It was last seen at Spittal Pond 5 Jul (EA). A male Eurasian Wigeon at Spittal Pond and male Ring-necked Duck at Ship’s Hill Pond both summered (AD). One or two Ospreys were present in the summer with frequent sightings in the Great Sound and Harrington Sound. Less than 20 nesting pairs of Common Moorhen survive on 11 ponds and their breeding success is poor since the establishment of the Red-eared Terrapin as an invasive species in the 1980s. Both food competition and predation of new hatched chicks may be involved (DBW). Two American Coots over-summered at Spittal Pond (DBW). Three sub-adult Semipalmated Plover summered at Spanish Point (DBW). As usual a few Ruddy Turnstones and Black-bellied Plover also remained during the summer, as did one imm. Great Black-backed Gull. Early shorebirds included an ad. male Wilson's Phalarope at Warwick Pond 11-23 Jul (DBW), Lesser Yellowlegs (4) 17 Jul at Spittal Pond, Least Sandpipers (8) and a Stilt Sandpiper at North Pond 24 Jul (EA). One ad. Laughing Gull was seen in various locations during Jun and Jul (AD, JM, DBW). A Gull-billed Tern was at Spittal Pond, 23-25 Jul (DBW). Single Sandwich Terns were seen 15 Jun at Ferry Point (PW) and 3 Jul in Harrington Sound (DBW). The Bermuda Common Tern population continues to be very marginal since hurricane Fabian in 2003. 14 Adults of which only 3 were males reared only three broods totalling 8 fledged young this summer (DBW). The first returning Belted Kingfisher arrived 28 Jul on Nonsuch Is. (JM). An early Red-eyed Vireo was at Jenningsland 9 Aug (JM). An American Redstart on Nonsuch Is. 9 Aug (JM) was the first fall warbler (JM). A first-summer male Red-winged Blackbird at North Pond 15 Jun was the first June record for 30 years (RC, AD).

August to December

Yet another first record in Bermuda - Ross’s Goose. However, this rare sighting failed to hide the fact this year’s fall migration was very poor. There were noticeably lower numbers of warblers. Only 34 of the 39 warbler species on the Bermuda list were seen this fall and for at least 10 of these species, less than six individual birds were seen.


A pair of  Cahows were found in a burrow on Nonsuch Island 10 Nov (the first occurrance  for 400 yrs). By the month’s end, six burrows had been prospected (JM). Single Magnificent Frigatebirds were over Spittal Pond 7 Oct (Bill) and Government House grounds and North Shore 20 Nov (RG, HW). An imm. Brown Booby  at dusk on the Warwick Long Bay stack 1 Sep (JMe) was last seen 11 Oct at Achilles Bay (AD). Possibly the same bird was seen off Hog Bay Park 29 Nov (AD). An imm. Brown Booby and a Northern Gannet were off Daniel’s Head 24 Dec (PW). An American Bittern was on Pembroke Marsh 19-26 Nov (DW). An imm. Black-crowned Night-Heron was at Spittal Pond 24 Oct-26 Nov (PW).  Two Snow Geese were seen flying strongly west over Cloverdale 22 Nov (AD). They were later discovered at Government House grounds. Another flew in off the sea at Cooper’s Point 23 Nov (AD) and probably the same bird was present at Port Royal GC from 26 Nov. Bermuda’s first record of Ross's Goose 26 Oct near Gibbit's Bay (B&SB) was re-discovered on Belmont GC 25 Nov-Dec (DW, ph.AD). A Canada Goose was discovered at Freer Cox NR 10 Dec (KR, DBW).  Five Wood Ducks were at Port Royal GC 26 Nov (DW). The long-staying male Eurasian Wigeon and a male American Wigeon male were at South Pond 11 Nov (AD). A Northern Pintail 15 Aug at Spittal Pond was the earliest fall record by 15 days (EA). A flock of 16 Ring-necked Duck were at Trott’s Pond 22 Nov(AD). A record 21 Lesser Scaup were recorded 22 Nov, with 14 at Spittal Pond (the largest single flock ever recorded in Bermuda) and 7 at Trott’s Pond (AD, PW). A male Long-tailed Duck was present on Ship’s Hill Pond 20-22 Oct (DW), the first record since 1990 and only the 6th record for Bermuda. A Bufflehead arrived on North Pond 11 Nov (DW). A record 17 Hooded Merganser were seen at various locations 26 Nov (DW). A male Sharp-shinned Hawk was over Port’s Is. 24 Dec (PW). A Cooper’s Hawk flew over Mid-Ocean GC 19 Nov (PW). A record 10 Semiplalmated Plovers were at Spanish Point 27 Dec (AD). Single Piping Plovers were seen at Horseshoe Bay 3 Oct (JM) and Cooper’s Is. 13 Oct (AD). A Willet was seen at North Pond 14 Aug (EA). An Upland Sandpiper was noted in Botanical Gardens 3 Aug (K&RL). Five Red Knot were seen 11 miles NNE of Bermuda 27 Oct (PW). A Buff-breasted Sandpiper on Port Royal GC 11 Sep was joined by another 13 Sep(AD). Two Short-billed Dowitchers were on Port Royal GC ponds 18-27 Dec (AD). Four Pomarine Jaegers were seen from the St. Georges Ferry off North Shore 6 Oct (WS). Two Jaegers were seen at distance on a boat trip off Cooper’s Is. 15 Nov (AD). A Black-headed Gull 23-24 Sep was the earliest fall record by about one month (PW). Another was seen at Dockyard 14 Dec (DW). An imm. Sabine’s Gull was found dead in sargassum in Flatts Inlet 21 Nov (CF). A Black Tern was present on Spittal Pond 2-7 Oct (KR). A Black-billed Cuckoo was seen at Pokiok 7 Oct (PH). A late influx of Yellow-billed Cuckoos included three in the West End 17 Dec (DW, K&RL). A Short-eared Owl was seen at the Airport 27 Dec (DBW). Several Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were notedone was in a St. George’s garden 16 Oct (PW),two were seen at Barngrove, Tee Street 3 Oct (WS), one was present 2-20 Nov in a Smith’s Parish garden (J&K L)  and on at least one date, two birds were seen. An Eastern Phoebe was seen at Spittal Pond 29 Nov (DBW). Single Great Crested Flycatchers were seen 7 Nov at Whale Bay Fort (DW) and Wreck Hill (WF). A Grey Kingbird at Somerset Long Bay NR 14 Aug was the earliest fall record by 21 days (PH). A Horned Lark was on the Airport 26 Sep (PW). A late flock of 16 Tree Swallows was at the East End dairy 10 Dec (DO). A Golden-crowned Kinglet was on Morgan’s Point 27 Dec (EA). A Northern Wheatear was on the Airport 21-26 Sep (DBW) and another was in a Hamilton Parish garden 16-19 Oct (PA). Two American Robin noted on the grass perimeter of Bermuda Airport on 23 Nov were the prelude to a number of sightings in Bermuda (AD). An American Pipit was on the Airport 9 Dec (JM, PW). A Golden-winged Warbler was in Shelly Bay fields 5-7 Oct (DBW). A Cerulean Warbler was seen on St. Georges GC 3 Oct (EA). A late Prothonotary Warbler was seen in Hog Bay Park 29 Nov (AD). A Connecticut Warbler was at Wreck Hill 7 Oct (WF). Single Yellow-breasted Chats were seen at Shelly Bay Park 17 Sep (DBW), Ferry Point Park 4-6 Oct (DBW) and Wreck Road 10 Dec (DW). Single Summer Tanagers were seen at Mid-Ocean GC 6 Dec (DBW), Tudor Farm 10 Dec (DW), and Jenningsland 14 Dec (JM). Single Lincoln’s Sparrows were found at Lukes Farm 1 Dec and Spittal Pond 16 Dec (DW). A White-throated Sparrow was in Hog Bay Park 29 Nov (AD). A Lapland Longspur was heard overhead at the Airport 10 Dec (PH). Two Dickcissel were seen on St. Georges GC 3 Oct (EA) and a further two at Hog Bay Park 11 Oct (AD, DW). A Bobolink was seen at Boaz Is 26 Dec (PH). A first year male Red-winged Blackbird was in Riddell’s Bay mangroves 27 Nov (DW). A juv. Common Grackle was seen at Riddell’s Bay mangroves 10 Oct (WS, PW). A Brown-headed Cowbird 14 Aug at North Pond was the earliest fall record by 6 weeks (EA).


The mystery of several calling Northern Bobwhites during Aug/Sept in Devonshire was solved. Eight birds had escaped from captivity in Orange Valley Road (BL).


Peter Adhemar, Eric Amos, Julian Avery, Beverley & Stephen Barton, Chris Burville, Rob Chandler, Andrew Dobson, Chris Flook, Wendy Frith, Richard Gozney, Peter Holmes (PJH), Peter Hopkin (PH), Kay & Ray Latter, Bruce Lorhan, Jade & Keith Lovell, Jeremy Madeiros, Blake Mathys, John Meadows (JMe), David O’Neill, Keith Rossiter, William Stone, James Tavares, David Wallace (DW), Paul Watson, Harry Whitcher, 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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Cockroach Island Bermuda, Audubon Nature Reserve 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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