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Columns : Bird Talk - Erika Gates Last Updated: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:32:04 PM

Birds Outnumber Birders at Recent Walk at Garden of the Groves‏
By Erika Gates
May 30, 2011 - 12:00:24 AM

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Although the group of birders was small, they were rewarded with a spectacular array of birds at the Garden of the Groves during May's bird walk.

Freeport, Grand Bahama Island - Birds outnumbered birders on our recent field trip.  However, those who participated were treated to unexpected sightings.

One of the highlights of May's bird walk was a female American Widgeon that had settled in with the resident flock of ducks (photo compliments of Charmaine Hall)

A migratory American Widgeon looked quite comfortable among a crowd of exotic Ringed Teals, Fulvous Whistling Ducks and a male Mandarin.

It was 8 am Saturday and the ducks were going about the business of getting themselves pretty and waterproof for a day at the Garden ponds by preening and zipping up their feathers with "grease" (like one of the young birders commented!)

We thought that we had already bid our winter visitors good-bye during our April fieldtrip, however stragglers like Northern Parula, American Redstart, Ovenbird and Northern Waterthrush were fuelling up on the Garden's insects for their long journey home. Two Great blue Herons could also not make up their mind to travel due to the abundant fish supplies at the Garden.

Blackpolls indicate that migration northward has come to an end

We all sadly realized that migration northward was about to end when flocks of female and male Blackpoll Warblers  fed frantically on insects that surrounded ripe figs and other berries.

The tiny Blackpolls had come as far as Argentina, stopped over to rest and recover at the Garden and will then continue their flights to nesting grounds as far as Canada!

And then, suddenly melancholy turned to joy when we noticed that migration had begun again two of our summer migrants had arrived. Black-whiskered Vireo and Grey Kingbird come here early summer to raise a family and then return further south for the winter when their offspring is ready to travel; kind of migration in reverse! We could hear the monotonous three-syllable calls of the Black-whiskered Vireos all over the Garden.

The Yellow-billed Cuckoo is a permanent but secretive resident at the Garden

As usual, the resident Yellow-billed Cuckoo played the hide and seek game and would only let us hear his call. He seemed to accompany us on our walk throughout the morning though! Everybody proceeded to the Garden Cafe, filled in checklists (we decided not to enter the Cuckoo by sound) over coffee or cold chocolate, then walked out to the parking lot and drove off! Only Geana Knowles and myself remained and chatted when we saw something moving in the Seagrape tree in the parking lot. it was the Yellow-billed Cuckoo and he showed himself to us in all his glory with that beautiful long black and white scalloped tail and rufus wings!

Sarah Knowles and Candace Woon came running off the playground and were fortunate to see him as well. They were delighted that they could put him on their checklist now!

We had decided that it was a very productive morning!

A Yellow Warbler had never before been seen at the Garden of the Groves.

Our June fieldtrip promises to be an unusual and exciting one as well we will be going by kayak to Peterson Cay and survey the seabird nesting area. We will be looking for species that will have arrived by then, such as the Bridled Terns, Least Terns and others. The birds spend their life at sea but come to offshore cays to lay their eggs and raise young. We will be reporting our findings to the SCSCB as one of our fieldtrips during the conference in July will go to Peterson Cay. Dr. Sorensen will post our sightings on the conference website so that visiting birders can get excited about this trip.

We plan this fieldtrip for Saturday, June 18th, weather permitting. Max. capacity 12 persons. I will ask one of our Grand Bahama Nature Tours guides to come along for safety reasons (he or she will be Lifeguard, First Aid, British Canoe-Union certified) There is a $ 8.00 fee per person to pay the guide's salary; we will be riding on the company's bus to the site (no charge!). Meet at GBNT's base at 8 am. Please call early to reserve your space!

Erika Gates – Bird Talk: owner 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 gbntours@hotmail.com or (242) 373-2485

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Bird Talk - Erika Gates
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