Erika Gates with (from left to right seated)Tony White and
Bruce Hallet and Dr. Bracy and Bruce Purdy (standing)
Freeport, Bahamas - The 10th annual Christmas Bird Count for the year 2010 was held this past
Wednesday, January 5th, 2011.
The Grand Bahama birding community enthusiastically participated in the
count and joined visiting birding experts to form five teams that observed,
identified and recorded species from sunrise to sunset.
The count was fortunate to have Bruce Hallet from Atlanta participate.
Bruce recently published the most comprehensive photographic birding field guide
for the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands. A twenty-five year interest and
preoccupation with birds has taken him to some of the more remote regions of the
world. For the past several years, he has concentrated his travels to the
islands of The Bahamas. He is currently a member of the first Bahamas Avian
One of the rare species of the 2010 count was a Ruddy Duck on
the Ruby Golf Course
Dr. Elwood "Woody" Bracy, a retired medical doctor who makes his home in
Treasure Cay, Abaco, was also one of the team leaders. Woody is considered
the foremost authority on sea and shorebirds in the Abacos and he enjoys
watching birds from his boat together with his wife Betsy. His expertise and
enthusiasm is always appreciated when he joins Grand
Bahama's Christmas Bird Count. Dr. Bracy is the compiler and organizer of
the annual Abaco Christmas Bird count.
Everybody welcomed back Anthony White from Bethesda, Maryland. Tony is
a retired Naval officer and has studied birds in the Bahamas for over
30 years. He brought birding into the local communities by
introducing Christmas Bird Counts throughout the Bahamas over ten
years ago. He is the author of the "Birder's Guide of the Bahama Islands"
and a member of the American Birding Association's Board of Directors. Tony
compiled 10 ABA regional checklists for North America and one for the Bahamas
and Turks and Caicos. He has advised the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism on matters
concerning birds, birding and conservation. His Bahama list records over 220
Participants of bird count during briefing at Garden of the Groves
It was one of the best days in the history of Grand Bahama's bird
counts. The weather was a balmy 75 degrees with winds around 10 mph -
prerequisites for perfect birding. Five teams with over 30 birders went into the
designated areas from dawn to dusk. When the recorded species were read out loud
by each team during the "tally rally" at Garden of the Groves that evening more
than 100 species had been seen. The exact number of species will be determined
within a couple of days when additional species are added that are observed
within the count week. Bruce Purdy, a former resident of Grand Bahama, came back
from his new home in Destin, Florida, to be the official compiler for the count.
Bruce has made a tremendous contribution to birding on Grand Bahama
while residing here. He birded many times a week and frequently
guided young Bahamians into the field to introduce them into the
fascinating world of birds. During his outings he would patiently seek and
photograph birds never recorded here. Bruce would report them to the American
Birding Association and thereby increase the species account for the
island. His expertise and enthusiasm will be missed but his return to this
year's count was appreciated by all.
The graceful and delicate Black-necked Stilt was observed on
the Emerald pond
Erika Gates, who has organized the Grand Bahama Christmas Bird Count over
the years, was delighted about its outcome and commented: "I am happy that we
were able to observe and record such a large number of species. The count will
make a significant contribution to environmental assessment and
future conservation. When our observations are entered into the largest database
in ornithology, declines and increases in bird populations will
be determined. These findings can then indicate environmental
degradation of bird habitats through pollution, deforestation or
development that will affect human quality of life as well."
Christmas Birds Counts are conducted on one day during a four week period
in December/January throughout North America, Central America, The Caribbean and
South America with over 60.000 persons participating. In the Bahamas counts take
place on New Providence, Grand Bahama and Abaco.
Erika Gates –
of Kayak Nature Tours (one of the first Eco-Tour businesses in The
Bahamas); co-founder of the Ecotourism Association; a published writer;
and a Cacique award winner! Her column
Bird Talk will enlighten and educate us about birds of The Bahamas, as well as the importance of Ecology. Erika can be reached at
email@example.com or (242) 373-2485
It has been observed that Yellow-billed Cuckoos are now
nesting on Grand Bahama. The species was observed at Garden of the
Groves during this year's count