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January to February 2011

Highlights of the reporting period included Bermuda’s first Black-tailed Gull and third record of White-winged Dove.

Early news of this year’s Cahow nesting season suggests at least 98 breeding pairs (JM). Two immature Northern Gannets were seen in many locations but appeared to favour the Great Sound mid-Dec-28 Feb+ (WF). The first returning White-tailed Tropicbird was recorded off Church Bay 3 Feb (AD). A Magnificent Frigatebird was in Hamilton Harbour 8-10 Feb (PB). A Glossy Ibis was present in the Somerset area to 28 Feb+ (AD). A Northern Harrier was on the Airport to 28 Feb+ (PA). A single Snow Goose was present at Belmont GC 26 Dec-Feb 28+ (AD) and also Lukes Farm 22 Jan-Feb 28+ (AD). Three Canada Geese were in various locations 29 Nov-Feb 28+ (NM). Seventeen species of ducks were recorded during the winter season including seven Gadwall (16 Jan-28 Feb+), a male Eurasian Wigeon 16 Jan-28 Feb+ (DG) and single Goldeneye at Mangrove Lake and Port Royal GC. Two American Golden-Plovers were on the Airport 2-5 Jan (DBW). A Piping Plover was on Grape Bay 24 Dec-2 Jan (AD). A record number of Killdeer wintered with 504 recorded on 2 Jan (AD et al). Two Red-tailed Hawks remained in Bermuda to 28 Feb+. A single Dunlin was at Spittal Pond 2 Jan (AD), while two were at the Airport 5-15 Jan (DBW). A Black-tailed Gull, the first record for Bermuda, was present in the Great Sound/Mangrove Bay area 8 Jan-28 Feb+(PH) but often elusive. At least three Black-headed Gulls were present to 28 Feb+. A wing-tagged Ring-billed Gull 16 Dec-Feb 28+ (AD) was banded in Massachusetts. A first winter Iceland Gull was at Dockyard 11-15 Jan (AD). Two Forster’s Terns were in Harrington Sound 14 Dec- 9 Jan. A Common Tern was in Harrington Sound to early Jan. A White-winged Dove, the third record for Bermuda, was seen in the Smith’s Hill 2 Jan (JM). A Yellow-billed Cuckoo was at Ferry Point Park 26 Dec-2 Jan (PW). A wintering Ruby-throated Hummingbird was still present in a Smith’s Parish garden to 28 Feb+ (KR). A single Hermit Thrush was at Morgan’s Point 15 Jan (AD, DW).  A Brown Creeper discovered in Nov was still present 13 Feb (NM). Two Golden-crowned Kinglets were present on Morgan’s Point 2-15 Jan (AD, DW). Two American Pipits in the West End 27 Dec (PH) were the first of an impressive 112 noted. Of 21 species of warbler recorded during the period, the most unusual was a Kentucky Warbler at Mid-Ocean GC 15 Jan (DW). Few Snow Buntings were noted this year with up to three in Dockyard and one at Ferry Point Park. A Brown-headed Cowbird was discovered at Westover Farm 2-4 Jan (PH). A White-winged Crossbill was at Cooper’s Island NR 16 Jan (NM). Common Redpolls were seen at Paget Marsh, 3 on 1 Jan (AD), Ferry Point (3) 16 Jan (AD, DW) and Spittal Pond (10) 27 Feb (PW).

Observers: Peter Adhemar, Paul Breen, Andrew Dobson, Wendy Frith, Derek Gibbons,  Peter Hopkin, Jeremy Madeiros, Neal Morris, Keith Rossiter, David Wallace (DW), Paul Watson, David Wingate (DBW).

March to July 2011

Highlights of the reporting period include: the first summering record of Ring-necked Duck; continued Cahow breeding success; rarely seen Audubon’s Shearwater; a record four South Polar Skuas; and Bermuda’s third record of Whip-poor-Will.

A male Wood Duck summered on Mid-Ocean/Tucker’s Point G.C. to 4 July (GB). A male Eurasian Wigeon was present 23 Jan (Jubilee Road) to 27 Feb (Spittal Pond) (DBW). Two Ring-necked Ducks on Tucker’s Point G.C. provided the first summer record for Bermuda. The male was last seen 27 June and had been banded on 5 Mar 2008 in Skaneateles, Onondaga Count, New York. The female was still present 9 Jul (AD). The Cahow breeding population continues to increase, with the number of nesting pairs (producing an egg and/or chick) at a new record of 98, which is 6 more than last year, and a record number of 57 successfully fledged chicks, 5 more than last year. This includes 4 chicks successfully fledged from the new colony at Nonsuch Island. Three chicks which had been prematurely abandoned by their parents were starving and had to be taken into care, of which two did not make it, and one was nursed back to health and recovered enough to successfully fledge out to sea (JM). Cory’s Shearwaters were moving at 100+ per hour off Cooper’s Point 6 Mar (PW). A Great Shearwater wasphotographed flying around the National Stadium floodlights at night 30 Jun (CB). This bird was obviously dis-orientated by the bright lights. Sooty Shearwater passage peaked at 70 per hour off Devonshire Bay 18 May (AD). An Audubon’s Shearwater was picked up at 9-Beaches Resort 5 May (NP) and after being checked at the Bermuda Aquarium Museum and Zoo was released into a burrow on Green Island. It remained overnight and flew off the following day. It represents only the 3rd or 4th record since the species was extirpated as a Bermuda breeding bird in the early 1980s.  One of the two wintering Northern Gannets was last seen 9 Mar (PW). A Lesser Yellowlegs at  Seymour’s Pond 7 Jul was the first returning fall shorebird (DW). Three Whimbrel remained at Stocks Harbour to 8 July (PW). A late White-rumped Sandpiper was at Tucker’s Point G.C. 26 Jun (AD). A female Wilson’s Phalarope was on Spittal Pond 4-7 June (BB). An adult Black-headed Gull in St. Georges Harbour 26-28 Apr (PW) was the first spring record for Bermuda. Two Laughing Gulls, one at Ferry Reach and one at Flatts Inlet were seen the 18 Jun (JM). Bermuda’s first Black-tailed Gull was last seen 28 Apr (PH). Arctic Tern passage peaked in mid-May with 12 passing Devonshire Bay 18 May (AD). Two Forster’s Terns were seen south of Bermuda at N31 39, W064 09 on 16 Jun (DBW). Four South Polar Skuas were seen 30 miles south-west of Bermuda 16 May (DBW). Seven Pomarine Jaegers were seen off Cooper’s Point 23 Apr (AD, PH). Single Swallow-tailed Kites were seen over Devonshire and Smiths 21-25 Mar (PHo) and Botanical Gardens 14-15 Apr (LM). A Yellow-billed Cuckoo was in Hamilton 16 April (PW).  A Whip-poor-Will was flushed at Stokes Point N.R. 4 Mar (DBW), only the 3rd Bermuda record. A wintering Ruby-throated Hummingbird in Smiths was last seen 18 Mar (KR). A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker on Nonsuch Island 17-19 Jun (JM) provided the first June record for this species. The same bird may also have been seen a few days later at Walsingham. A Downy Woodpecker was a surprise find on St. Georges G.C. 1 Mar (PW). The latest ever record of Tree Swallow was at Spittal Pond 19 June (DBW). An American Robin was on St. Georges G.C. 13 Mar (PW). A partially leucistic Grey Catbird was at Elbow Beach Hotel 4-11 Jun (BB). A Summer Tanager was in St. David’s 8-9 Apr (WS). A Prairie Warbler returned to Hinson’s Island for a second summer and was last heard singing 26 Jun (JH). A Red-winged Blackbird was near Pembroke Marsh 22 Mar (PW).

Observers: Geoff Bell, Bart Brown, Andrew Dobson, Janice Hetzel, Peter Holmes (PHo), Peter Hopkin (PH), Jeremy Madeiros, Leila Madeiros, Nigel Pollard, Keith Rossiter, Wolfgang Sterrer, David Wallace, Paul Watson, David Wingate (DBW).

August to November 2011

Highlights of the fall period in Bermuda have included: the first record of Hairy Woodpecker; the third record of Fork-tailed Flycatcher; fourth record of Wood Sandpiper; sixth record of Garganey; significant fall-out of shorebirds and an unprecedented number of Yellow-billed Cuckoos.

Petrels to Terns

Pelagic trips in November produced a record count of 28 Cahows at sea 25 Nov (HS). These trips also produced Bermuda’s first ever fall records of Great Shearwater obtained 19 (DBW) and 21 Nov. Also recorded 21 Nov were Cory’s Shearwater (2) and Leach’s Storm-Petrel (AD, BF, HS, DBW). A Masked Booby was seen 5 miles off Bermuda 21 Aug and an imm. 17 Nov (DBW). An  ad. White Ibis first seen flying over St Georges GC, 2 Oct (PW) was seen in various locations to 22 Oct. An imm. White Ibis at Cooper’s Island, 4 Oct (DP) was seen at various locations to 30 Nov+. A Northern Harrier was at Ferry Point, 25 Sep (NM). A Garganey, the 6th record for Bermuda, was discovered at Cloverdale, 21-23 Oct and present Devonshire Marsh to 19 Nov (AD, DW). A Sharp-shinned Hawk was seen at Spittal Pond, 12 Oct (BF). An imm. Purple Gallinule was at Parson’s Road Pond, 12 Oct (NM) with a second at Somerset Long Bay NR 23- Oct (PH). Bermuda witnessed one of the best fall-outs of shorebirds seen for many years. Over 100 American Golden-Plover were present at the Airport and Port Royal GC, 17 Sep (AD, PW). During Sep record numbers of Semipalmated Sandpipers were recorded – with estimates of over 1,000 birds. Counts of over 100 birds were common on golf courses and farms. Two Piping Plover were at Horseshoe Bay, 12 Sep (LM). Bermuda’s fourth Wood Sandpiper was at Warwick Pond 12 Nov (AD, PW). Four Willet at Ferry Point Park, 17 Sep were unusual (AD). A Eurasian Whimbrel was at Port Royal GC 28 Aug-21 Sep (NM). A Hudsonian Godwit was discovered at Port Royal GC, 17-24 Sep (NM). A Red Knot was present on Port Royal GC, 10-28 Sep (AD) and another at Mangrove Bay, 4 Dec (DW). A record 180 Pectoral Sandpipers were seen in the west end on 15 Sep as T.S. Maria passed (DBW). A Ruff was on Mid-Ocean GC, 29-30 Sep (AD, PW). A Wilson’s Phalarope was at Spittal Pond, 17 Sep (TW). A Great Skua was 5 miles off Bermuda 19 Nov (DBW). A Roseate Tern was noted amongst 50 Common Terns in Harrington Sound, 3 Sep (DBW). Two Least Terns were seen roosting at the Airport with American Golden Plovers 4 Sep (DBW). A Black Tern (JM) with a flock of Common Terns (20+) in Castle Harbour, 4 Sep (JM) was re-located in St. Georges Harbour 5 Sep (PW). Following T.S. Maria on 15 Sep., tern passage peaked on 16 Sep with Sandwich (3), Roseate (2), Common (100), Arctic (1) and Forster’s Terns (2) all in Harrington Sound (PW). In Castle Harbour, there were additionally Common (4), Least (6) and Black Tern (2) (JM). A pelagic trip off Bermuda produced an imm. Brown Noddy 17 Aug and an imm. Sooty Tern 18 Aug (DBW). Another Brown Noddy was seen at Ferry Point, 23 Oct (PW).

Cuckoos to Sparrows

During the first week of October there was a massive fall-out of 1000+ Yellow-billed Cuckoos. Birders and members of the public reported them from all over the island including the business district of the City of Hamilton. Bermuda has experienced falls of cuckoos before, but the number on this occasion was unprecedented. There were reports of “ten cuckoos in one tree” and flocks of up to 20 cuckoos feeding on fairways of golf courses. One small pumpkin field held 30+ cuckoos. Golf courses provided easy observation of the birds where they didn’t appear exhausted but were actively feeding and approachable. The event might be explained by hurricane Ophelia which passed 120 nautical miles to the east as a category 4 storm on 1 Oct. A likely migrant Barn Owl was mobbed by 4 American Crows at Lovers Lake, 17 Sep (DBW). The only Chimney Swift recorded this year was over Wreck Hill 26-27 Oct (DBW). The first of three Ruby-throated Hummingbirds was discovered at Coral Beach Club, 18 Oct-14 Nov (PH). Two were seen there the following day and thanks to numerous photos, a third was confirmed 22 Oct. One was present to 11 Nov (AD). A Hairy Woodpecker, the first record for Bermuda was seen at St Georges GC 30 Oct (PW). This may well have been the result of the very early snow storm in the US. A Northern Flicker was seen at the Alfred Blackburn Smith NR, 19 Oct (AD) and a second discovered on Mid-Ocean GC 20-28 Nov (GB). A Yellow-bellied Flycatcher was seen at Government House, 20 Oct (RG). A Least Flycatcher was seen at Tudor Farm, 6 Oct (PH). A Great Crested Flycatcher was a good find at Springfield NR, 2-4 Oct (AD). BIOS hosted a Grey Kingbird 23 Sep (PW) with another on Wreck Road, 7 Oct (WF). A Fork-tailed Flycatcher was photographed (NM) 5 Sep at Kindley Field, the third confirmed record for Bermuda. A Ruby-crowned Kinglet was on St Georges GC, 8 Oct (DBW). A Northern Wheatear was discovered on Port Royal GC, 1 Oct (WF). Single Veery were seen at St Georges GC 2 Oct (PW) and Wreck Road 6 Oct (WF). A small passage of Swainson’s Thrushes occurred in the first week of October with one at Coral Beach Club 3 Oct (AD); four seen in one tree in the Arboretum, 4 Oct (DW); three on Wreck Road 6 Oct (DW) and Morgan’s Point 8 Oct (AD). Single Warbling Vireos were at Wreck Road 10 Oct (WF) and Ferry Point Park 15 Oct (AD). One Philadelphia Vireo was seen at Fort Scaur, 9 Oct (DBW). At least 36 species of warbler were recorded during the season in Bermuda. The highlights being Golden-winged Warbler at Coral Beach Club 10 Oct (AD), Cerulean Warbler at St Georges GC 8 Oct (DBW), Swainson’s Warbler at Port Royal GC 11 Sep (AD), Connecticut Warbler at Ferry Point 9 Oct (PW) and Yellow-breasted Chat off Wreck Road 21 Oct (AD). A Dickcissel was on St Georges GC, 8 Oct (DBW). A Grasshopper Sparrow was at Alton Hill, 20 Oct (DW).  A Swamp Sparrow was at Ferry Point Park, Bermuda 9 Oct (PW). The only White-crowned Sparrows were at Wreck Road 10 Oct (WF) and Mid-Ocean GC 12 Oct (AD).

Observers: Geoff Bell, Andrew Dobson, Bob Flood, Wendy Frith, Richard Gozney, Peter Hopkin, Jeremy Madeiros, Leila Madeiros, Neal Morris, Drew Pettit, Hadoram Shirihai, David Wallace (DW), Paul Watson, Tim White, David Wingate (DBW).

December 2011

Highlight of the month was undoubtedly the discovery of Bermuda’s second MacGillivray’s Warbler

A Northern Gannet was seen off Warwick Long Bay 30 Dec (RP). Single American Bitterns were seen at Pembroke Marsh 27 Dec (NM) and Mid-Ocean GC 28 Dec (AD). A Least Bittern was on Mid-Ocean GC 29 Dec (GB). The immature White Ibis remained at Spittal Pond to Dec 31+ (AD). The long-staying Garganey was still present in Devonshire Marsh to 27 Dec (BL, JT). A Hooded Merganser was at Pembroke Marsh 3 Dec-31 Dec+ (NM). At least one Osprey was present at various locations throughout Dec. (AD). A Peregrine Falcon was seen at various locations in Dec (JM, DBW et al). Two Greater Yellowlegs and two Lesser Yellowlegs were present at Port Royal GC and Spittal Pond throughout the month (AD). A Red Knot was at Mangrove Bay 5 Dec (DW). A record number of Sanderling (28) was at Grape Bay 6 Dec (AD). A first winter Iceland Gull was at various locations 22-27 Dec (JM). Three Yellow-billed Cuckoos were found wintering together in the Smith’s Hills 27 Dec (JM). A Nighthawk sp. was seen over St. Georges GC 29 Dec (PW). Single Eastern Phoebes were at Spittal Pond and Botanical Gardens 14 Dec (AD, NM). A Ruby-crowned Kinglet was seen in the Smith’s Hills 27 Dec (JM). A Swainson’s Thrush was seen in St. Georges 27 Dec (PW). A Hermit Thrush was seen at Morgan’s Point 6 Dec (DW). An American Robin at was at Government House 6-16 Dec (RG). A Swainson’s Warbler was seen at Morgan’s Point 6 Dec (DW). A MacGillivray’s Warbler was at Spittal Pond 27-31 Dec (AD, RG, KR). A Swamp Sparrow was seen at Devonshire Marsh 11 Dec (AD) and 27 Dec (JM). A Blue Grosbeak was seen on Port Royal GC 27 Dec (PH, NP).

Observers: Geoff Bell, Andrew Dobson, Richard Gozney, Peter Hopkin, Bruce Lorhan, Jeremy Madeiros, Neal Morris, Ron Porter, Natasha Power, Keith Rossiter, James Tatem, David Wallace (DW), Paul Watson, David Wingate (DBW).

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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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