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Columns : Bird Talk - Erika Gates Last Updated: Feb 13, 2017 - 1:45:37 AM

Grand Bahama Birding Group conducts Caribbean Waterbird Census
By Erika Gates
Mar 13, 2014 - 11:22:36 PM

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Grand Bahama Birding Group surveying Discovery Beach (Delores Kellman, Judy Bierma, Marian Chamberlain, Barbara Zill, Erika Gates, Candice Woon, Chas Tuchel, Duncan Mullis, Tiggy Cunningham, Rudy Sawyer, Penny Ettinger (Photo: Dr. Clarence Green)

Freeport, Bahamas - The Grand Bahama Birding Group gathered on three different days for the fourth annual Caribbean Waterbird Census. This project is organized by Birds Caribbean (formerly the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds - SCSCB) and is conducted throughout the Caribbean and the Bahamas. The goal of the program is to learn
more about the distribution, status and abundance of waterbirds in the region so that conservation planning and habitat management for these beautiful birds can be improved.
The program is co-sponsored by Cornell University's Lab of Ornithology, an institution that interprets and conserves the earth's biological diversity through research, education and citizen science focused on birds. By their participation in this annual event, Grand Bahama Birders are given the opportunity to make a significant contribution to Cornell's database and to conservation.
The group surveyed 7 sites, among them a Reef Golf course pond, the pond at the abandoned Emerald golf course, 2 ponds at the Ruby as well as shorelines at Williamstown and Discovery. The most productive site proved to be the Emerald pond with 16 species and a total of 61 birds. This pond was declared a birding "HOTSPOT" by Cornell University several years ago due to its annual abundance and variety of resident and migratory species. Visiting birders will always include this site when they come to Grand Bahama and the Birding community hopes that the land owner will continue to preserve this special place!
The Emerald Pond, one of the most abundant sites in the count

At Emerald Pond: Blue-winged Teal, female, Blue-winged Teal, male, Greater Yellowlegs, Black-necked Stilt and Lesser Scaup sunbathing with Red-eared Slider Turtles

Delores Kellman, Jordan Davis, Jill Cooper, Recorder, Tiggy Cunningham, Barbara Zill and Christopher Baker on the Ruby pond (Photo: Erika Gates)

The endangered Piping Plover wintering on Grand Bahama Island (Photo courtesy of Dr. Lisa Sorenson)

Amongst the shorebird sites, Discovery Beach was an exciting spot with over 120 birds of 10 different species. The most abundant was the wintering Black-bellied Plover. However, without a doubt, the sighting of 13 endangered Piping Plovers was the highlight for the group. This bird will be extensively studied during the 2016 International  Piping Plover Census by the National Audubon Society right here on Grand Bahama and the Bahamas in general. During the recent Bahamas Natural History Conference in Nassau the Bahamas National Trust applied to the Bahamas Government for the creation of another national park, especially to protect this endearing little bird!
After all sites had ben surveyed the species and number of birds were entered into Cornell University's eBird. Duncan Mullis, the IT specialist in the group supervised this task. Erika Gates encouraged members of the Grand Bahama Birding Group to list all their bird observations with Cornell's on-line checklist. EBird provides a rich data source for bird information, abundance and distribution and it is becoming one of the largest growing biodiversity resource in the world.

The Emerald Pond, one of the most abundant sites in the count

Duncan Mullis supervises the group in entering the CWC results into eBird (Photo: Erika Gates

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Bird Talk - Erika Gates
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