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Annual Bird Reports

January to May 2006

The first five months of the year have once again provided some fascinating records. Bermuda’s first record of a live Grey Heron was confirmed (following the discovery of a dead one last year). The pair of Red-tailed Hawks attempted to breed. Meanwhile, a number of species lingered in Bermuda following the effects of Hurricane Wilma last year, notably Magnificent Frigatebird, Laughing Gull and Royal Tern.

Grebes to Birds of Prey

A pair of Pied-billed Grebe once again bred at Somerset Long Bay. Since the setback in Cahow breeding success following Hurricane Fabian in 2003, this year’s total of 38 chicks is most promising. This year also witnessed the return of the first chicks to have been banded as fledglings, 6 from 2002 and 2 from 2003. Other than Manx Shearwater, few shearwaters were seen before late May. Wilson’s and Leach’s Storm-Petrels were commonly seen well off-shore in Apr and May (AD).  A very early White-tailed Tropicbird was seen at Spittal Pond 30 Jan (PW), but did not return in significant numbers until late February. Two immature Northern Gannets were regularly seen 9 Dec to Mar (PW). A Great Cormorant that wintered in the Great Sound was last seen 11 Mar (AD). Sightings of Magnificent Frigatebirds around the coastline continued until 5 Apr with two over St David’s (GA). A Grey Heron at Spittal Pond 22-27 Apr (DBW) was the first live record for this species in Bermuda. Green Herons are once again actively breeding. A flock of 30 Cattle Egrets were feeding at the Airport in Mar (PW). Several imm. Black-crowned Night-Herons were seen at various locations during the winter months (AD, DBW, PW). Least Bitterns were seen during mid-Apr at Pembroke Marsh (K&RL) and Paget Marsh (DW). Two Glossy Ibis were seen flying over Warwick 8 May and settled at Devonshire Marsh (AD). A Canada Goose was seen over Pembroke Marsh in Mar (TW). Seymour’s Pond hosted a pair of Gadwall 24 Mar- 4Apr (DBW) and a pair of Eurasian Wigeon 29 Dec-11 Mar (AD). A Greater Scaup was on Tucker’s Point GC Pond 13 Mar (EA). A Common Merganser was in Mangrove Lake 13 Jan (JM) and then the Great Sound to Mar (DW). A Red-breasted Merganser was seen at Somerset Long Bay 12 Feb (DW). A Ruddy Duck wintered on Parson’s Road Pond (AD). A Swallow-tailed Kite was regularly seen over Gibbs Hill 7-11 May (TW). Wintering Northern Harriers were last seen at the Airport 5 Apr and Great Sound 7 Apr (AD). The Red-tailed Hawk nest at Morgan’s Point was first noticed in early April (AC). Single Peregrine Falcons were noted 3 May over Flatts Hill (JM) and 15 May over Morgan’s Point (AD).

Shorebirds to Terns

An American Golden-Plover was on mudflats at Stocks Harbour 29 Apr-11 May (EA, PW). Three Semipalmated Plovers and two Piping Plovers wintered at Grape Bay with a Willet. This is the second wintering record of Willet in Bermuda.  Three Piping Plovers were at Grape Bay 1 May (PW). Single Black-necked Stilts were seen at North Pond 23 Mar-5 Apr (GB) and Spittal Pond 22-27 May (PA). A Solitary Sandpiper seen at Jubilee Road 24 Jan (DBW) provided the first winter record for Bermuda. A Red Knot was at Riddell’s Bay GC 4 Dec- 17 Jan (DW).  A Long-billed Dowitcher was at S.Princess Pond mid-Dec to 2 Jan (AD). A smattering of spring shorebirds arrived in May, including a Stilt Sandpiper at North Pond 6 May and single White-rumped Sandpipers at North Pond and Jubilee Road 21 May (AD). At least 20 Laughing Gulls wintered in Bermuda, mainly in the Hamilton Harbour area.  Some were still present into May. A Franklin’s Gull was seen on 11 Feb in Castle Harbour (JM). A Black-headed Gull was last seen 7 Apr in Hamilton Harbour (AD).  There was a movement of Bonaparte’s Gulls in March with 17 seen in Hamilton Harbour 20 Mar (PW). Five Royal Terns wintered, most often seen at Dockyard (AD) with at least three remaining into May. Two Sandwich Terns remained in the Hamilton Harbour area until early February.  Three Forster’s Terns remained in Hamilton Harbour throughout the period (PW).

Nighthawk to Waxbills

A Common Nighthawk was over Nonsuch Is. 23 May (PW). A Northern Flicker was at Devonshire Church 1 Mar (SD). A Grey Kingbird was found at Brighton Hill 23 May (DW). A Red-eyed Vireo was at Somerset Long Bay 7 May (EA). A Barn Swallow over Pembroke Dump was unusual 28 Dec-8 Jan (DBW). Flocks of up to 14 birds were noted at several locations 20 Apr (AD, PW). A Veery came to a bird bath in Jenningsland 16 Apr (JM, LM). A Wood Thrush near the railway trail in Somerset provided a rare wintering record 31 Jan- 23 Mar (DW). Two American Robins were seen at Wreck Road 31 Jan (DW). American Pipits have been scarce on the Airport with eight 22 Jan (AD). Few migrant warblers were recorded in the spring, but notable sightings included a Blue-winged Warbler 20 Apr on Paget Is (AD) and Bay-breasted Warbler 7 May on Wreck Road (EA). A Summer Tanager seen in Dec and 24 Feb-12 Mar (SR) certainly over-wintered in the Arboretum. A male Scarlet Tanager was at Somerset Long Bay 2-7 May. A Snow Bunting was present on the Airport 12 Dec-18 Feb (PW).  The largest flock of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks reported was six birds at Emily’s Bay Lane 20 Apr (EA). Indigo Buntings were also common spring migrants in Apr. Bobolinks were scarce migrants with singles at Pitman’s Pond 26 Apr (PJH) and Brighton Hill 20 May (DW). An escaped Black-rumped Waxbill (see photo AD) was seen in Devonshire Marsh 24 Feb-12 Mar (SR)

Observers: Eric Amos, Gerry Ardis, Peter Adhemar, Geoff Bell, Alan Card, Steven DeSilva, Andrew Dobson, Peter Holmes (PJH), Peter Hopkin, Kay & Ray Latter, Jeremy Madeiros, Steve Rodwell, David Wallace (DW), Paul Watson, Tim Wershler, David Wingate (DBW).

June to July 2006

Bermuda’s first live Grey Heron, discovered 22 April was still present. Two Great Egrets and two Little Blue Herons also over-summered (EA). A Tricolored Heron was seen in the East End 24 Jul (PW). Two Glossy Ibis were still present on Jubilee Road 5 Jun (DBW). A late Swallow-tailed Kite was seen at various locations 12-23 June (BL, PH). Five Black-bellied Plovers and one Whimbrel over-summered (PW). A Semipalmated Plover at Long Island 25 June (PW) provided an unusual summer record. An adult Spotted Sandpiper was at North Pond 9 Jun (DBW). Returning shorebirds were at least one week later than usual, appearing in the third week of July (EA, AD). A single Sandwich Tern off Spanish Point and Roseate Tern off North Shore, were seen 20 Jun (PW). A Brown Noddy was in the Hog Fish Channel 15-17 Jun (BL). Sightings of a South Polar Skua may well have been of the same individual 31 May, 6&10 Jun at Cooper’s Point (PW, AD), 2 Jun at Elbow Beach (GA) and 21 Jun off Horseshoe Bay (PW). Amongst returning swallows was an early Bank Swallow at East End Dairy 31 Jul (PW). A Louisiana Waterthrush at Pitman’s Pond 23 Jul (DW) was the first migrant warbler. Common Grackle is very rare in Bermuda. One seen on Nelly’s Is. 31 Jul (PW) had presumably over-summered.

August to December 2006

Fortunately Bermuda was spared any severe storms this season, with Hurricane Florence giving us a close shave on 10th September.  So there was no repeat influx of birds that occurred following Hurricane Wilma last year. There were some notable sightings this fall, including potential first records of MacGillivray’s Warbler and Western Tanager. Bermuda’s third Sandhill Crane put in a very brief appearance. A record four Northern Wheatears and three hummingbirds were seen. Long stayers include Bermuda’s first live Grey Heron and two Red-tailed Hawks.

Tropicbirds to Terns

A late White-tailed Tropicbird was over Darrell’s Island 22 Oct (AD, PW). Three Masked Boobies were seen off the East End 14 Sep (PW) – probably the result of Hurricane Florence passing on 10 Sep. Another was seen 17 Oct, also off the East End (PW). An American Bittern was at Cloverdale 14 Oct (DBW) and in Paget Marsh 29 Nov (DW). Two Least Bitterns were seen at Pitman’s Pond 14 Oct (AD) and Cloverdale 24 Oct (AD). The long-staying Grey Heron was present throughout the period, mainly in the Tuckers Town area. An immature Black-crowned Night-Heron was seen at Spittal Pond during October (AD, PW). A Brant Goose was present at Daniel’s Head 31 Oct (DW). An immature male Surf Scoter was discovered on Mangrove Lake 27 Nov-31 Dec (EA). The same bird was probably in Castle Harbour 24 Nov (JM). Single Ospreys were seen throughout the period at both ends of the island. A Northern Harrier first was noted at the Airport 15 Oct-31 Dec (PA). A Sharp-shinned Hawk was over Cemetery Hill 28 Oct (DBW). The two long-staying Red-tailed Hawks were present throughout the period. Peregrines were seen at various locations in October. A Virginia Rail was flushed from Kindley Field mangroves 8 Oct (AB, PW). Bermuda’s third Sandhill Crane flew over Long Island 22 Oct (NB, AD, PW). A flock of 23 Semipalmated Sandpipers was unusual at Riddell’s Bay GC 18 Sep (DW). Piping Plovers were noted at a number of locations during the fall and two have over-wintered at Grape Bay and Cooper’s Island respectively. Upland Sandpipers were noted at the Airport 21 Sep (DBW), St. Georges GC 27 Sep (PW), and Heydon Trust 12 Oct (DW). An oiled Baird’s Sandpiper was on Riddell’s Bay GC 10 Sep (DBW, EA). A Dunlin was at the same location in early mid-Sept and another at Spittal Pond 24 Oct (DBW). Buff-breasted Sandpipers appeared at a number of locations. A Long-billed Dowitcher was at Jubilee Road 17 Oct (EA). An adult light phase Pomarine Jaeger flew past Ruth’s Point 11 Sep (PW) following the passage of Hurricane Florence. A Common Black-headed Gull was on the Causeway 29 Oct (AD) while two have been at Dockyard since 15 Nov (PW). A Bonaparte’s Gull was also at Dockyard 15 Nov (PW). At least three Royal Terns were present in the early fall with at least one remaining into December.

Hummingbird to Dickcissel

Hummingbirds were reported from Devonshire 15 Oct (RM), St. David’s 9-31 Dec (LO), and Botanical Gardens 29-31 Dec (LC, AD). As wintering hummingbirds on the US East Coast in winter are invariably Black-chinned rather than Ruby-throated, it is hoped that confirmation of species can be made from photographs. Perhaps as many as 15 Empidonax flycatchers were reported in October, mainly of the Alder-Willow variety. Scarce vireo species recorded included Yellow-throated, Blue-headed, Warbling and Philadelphia. A single Golden-crowned Kinglet was seen at Ferry Point Park 27 Oct-11 Nov (DW) while Ruby-crowned Kinglets were seen at many locations including six on 11 Nov (DW, PW). A record year for Northern Wheatears reflected similar sightings along the Eastern Seaboard. Four birds were seen, with singles at the National Stadium 9 Sep (AD), Heydon Trust 23-24 Sep (DW), St. Georges GC 13 Oct (DBW) and Lukes Farm 6 Oct (DBW). Thrushes were once again thin on the ground. A Swainson’s Thrush was on Nelly’s Island 22 Oct (AD, PW). Hermit Thrushes were scattered widely with at least 12 individuals 28-29 Oct (AD) and there was a small influx of American Robins noted in late October with five on 27 Oct in the East End (PW). At least three Northern Mockingbirds were reported (a rarity in Bermuda). One was at Boaz Island 20 Sep to late Dec (PH), a ‘tail-less’ bird was seen at Tee Street 16 Oct (PJH) and again St. Georges 17 Oct (PW), while a third was discovered in Somerset in Dec (PH). American Pipits arrived from 24 Oct on Cooper’s Island and 28 Oct at Brighton Hill (DW) with a small flock wintering at the Airport (DW). Thirty-four species of warbler were recorded during the season, with a notable fall involving hundreds of Blackpoll Warblers 12 Oct (EA, PW et al). A potential first for Bermuda was a MacGillivray’s Warbler 28 Oct at Paget Marsh (PH). The three-second view allowed Peter Hopkin to note some detail, but it has not been seen again. First year or adult female bird perched up in the dead cedar at the very end of the Paget Marsh boardwalk. At first side-on at the back of the tree, it moved to the front where it was above me looking down. It took a good look at me for about three seconds at 4m range then plunged back into the swamp vegetation. Fortunately I have seen many in Colorado, British Columbia and Costa Rica so it was no problem to identify.The main feature was the broken eye-ring, which was clear white and heavy, rather like a Laughing Gull, above and below the eye, broken front and back. It contrasted strongly with the dark grey lores and greyish ear coverts and bright enough that at such close range I could see the ring with naked eye. Face and breast cold olive-grey beige, much cooler in colour than Connecticut, although darker area around the eye and lores very small. Sharp division on lower breast between breast and with reasonably bright, but not vivid, yellow belly. The underparts were duller between the legs and then brighter cleaner yellow undertail coverts, which were short compared to the tail; thus the bird looked slimmer and better proportioned than the rather stubby Connecticut Warbler. Upperparts were plain brown, quite warm, and with no wing bars, tertial fringes or spots on the ends of the remiges noted. Tail was slightly raised away from me so I did not see the underside, or note the leg colour. Bill short and pale brown, at least on the underside. Size comparison was possible with Yellow-rumped Warblers; it was slimmer and perhaps slightly shorter; a neater bird.

Another potential first for Bermuda was a Western Tanager seen by David Wingate at Ferry Point Park 21 Oct. This bird hung around for some 10 mins, allowing the following description. David wrote: As this is a first Bermuda record and I didn't have digiscope to photo it, here is my descriptive documentation as written in my field notebook BEFORE I returned to the car to check the National Geographic Guide. "Size and greenish yellow head and underparts colour of Scarlet Tanager, but possibly bigger with yellowish rump. Typical tanager bill, pinky yellow, darker above and on tip. Darkish legs. Diagnostic feature was two bold wingbars on otherwise grey green wings. Bold yellowish front wing bar and narrow whitish rear wing bar, those coverts distinctly white tipped. Also white edges on tertials. Back slightly darker mottled grey green, not the smooth green of a Scarlet." I did not know (or recall) before I checked the guide that Western IS slightly larger than Scarlet and does have a paler yellowish rump, so noting these features without that awareness corroborates the diagnostic field mark which was the bold wing bars. Neither did I recall that the fore and aft wingbars are differently coloured, so my noting this is further support of correct identification. Indeed the field marks were so clear and distinctive that it was most likely an immature male if not even an adult male in winter plumage! In all other respects it was classic tanager jizz including the fact it was apparently catching and eating Polistes wasps which were common in the area. I encountered it at 1100hrs on the railway trail where the path from main road crosses it into the enclosed yellow fever cemetery. It was at eye level on dead snag and then in Jumbie Bean, all in full sunlight with sun at my back at 20' - 25' range. I had excellent repeated views for next 5 -10 minutes before it moved deeper into the thicket and I became distracted by a cell of migrants, mainly Indigo buntings moving through the same area.

Scarce sparrow species included Clay-coloured (6-12 Oct Pitman’s Pond (DBW); Song Sparrow at Bailey’s Bay 13 Nov (PW); Swamp Sparrow and Dark-eyed Junco 22 Nov Ferry Point Park (PW). A Snow Bunting was discovered on Castle Island 17 Dec (JM, LM). Dickcissels were present at Cedar Grove 30 Sep (EA), Paget Island 8 Oct (AD, PW), Port Royal GC 16 Oct (AD) and Lukes Farm 17 Dec (EA).

Photographic proof of a significant Bermuda record has just been received. On Jan 2, 2005 an American Visitor, David G Smith, reported what he was sure were three White Pelicans flying east to the north of Spittal Pond. He gave a detailed account of them. And that same day Audubon member Heather DeSilva reported three white pelicans flying towards the east. Eric Amos recently received a digital print sent to him by a resident of Southampton (off Buck Island). It is dated 1 Jan 2005 and clearly shows three White Pelicans.

Observers: Gary Allport, Eric Amos, Peter Adhemar, Nicholas Barton, Ann Brown, Lisa Clark, Andrew Dobson, Peter Holmes (PJH), Peter Hopkin (PH), Kay & Ray Latter, Bruce Lorhan, Jeremy Madeiros, Leila Madeiros, Robin Maraira, Louise Olander, David Wallace (DW), Paul Watson, David Wingate (DBW).

The Bermuda Audubon Society has just completed its 32nd annual Christmas Bird Count. Twenty members of the Society counted every bird from dawn to dusk on 17th Dec as well as adding any additional species seen during the week. Nearly 7,000 individual birds were recorded of exactly 100 species. Mr. Andrew Dobson, who coordinated this year’s count, stated, “Some unusual species were seen this year. New species for Bermuda’s count included a Grey Heron at Tucker’s Town Bay, a bird that is common on the other side of the Atlantic. A Northern Mockingbird on Boaz Island was also a new, a species that is very common in North America, but rarely seen in Bermuda. Other unusual species included a Snow Goose on Belmont golf course, a hummingbird in St. David’s (photo by Andrew Dobson) and a Surf Scoter on Mangrove Lake. Two globally endangered species of birds were recorded, our own national bird, the Cahow, and the Piping Plover, a small shorebird which breeds in the eastern US and Canada. However, 52% of all birds recorded were starlings, kiskadees or sparrows – all invasive species which shouldn’t really be in Bermuda and they have certainly had an impact on our local birds. The low numbers of migrant warblers continues a depressing downward trend in the population of these species. It is a reflection of loss of habitat in summer (breeding grounds) and wintering areas and in some cases the effects of global warming. “Mr. Dobson went on to say: “Citizen Science is a way for people to connect with the natural world through fun activities that generate vital information for the conservation of birds. This partnership benefits us all: observers learn about birds by taking part in these science-based activities, and Audubon's science staff gains invaluable information. Most importantly, the birds benefit because it helps Audubon focus on those birds and habitats that need our help most.” Count results will be available as they are entered onto the National Audubon website www.audubon.org/bird/cbc  

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).

Twenty members of the Bermuda Audubon Society counted every bird they could find from dawn to dusk on Dec 29th 2005 as part of a survey of bird populations throughout the Americas. The first count took place in the US 105 years ago as an alternate to a seasonal bird shoot. Now the annual census nvloves thousands of people and adds to our knowledge of changes in bird populations. This year was Bermuda’s 31st count. With good coverage of the island by about ten different groups, it was not surprising that we recorded one of our highest counts – 103 species of birds on the day. Many seabirds remained in Bermuda after being blown here by Hurricane Wilma in October 2005. They included a Magnificent Frigatebird and four Sandwich Terns, both new count day birds, and record numbers of Laughing Gulls and Royal Terns. Also new to the count was a Willet (only the second occasion this shorebird has wintered in Bermuda) and a wren species (probably a Winter Wren). Results of the Bermuda CBC are available to everyone at www.audubon.org/bird/cbc

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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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