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

New Nature Trail Established in McLean’s Town, Grand Bahama
By H. Rudy Sawyer
Nov 29, 2011 - 6:11:09 PM

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A new birding trail has been established in McLean’s Town, Grand Bahama on Saturday, 26th November, 2011 when nineteen (19) birders from Freeport, along with the principal of the All-age School in McLean’s Town, Mrs. Dorothy Lewis and a student from Grade 6, Georgette Laing joined Mr. H. Rudy Sawyer through the trail that he had developed over the previous three (3) months. Mr. Jock Hall, professional photographer, video taped the expedition. Among the birders were Mrs. Erika Gates of Grand Bahama Nature Tours and top naturalist on the island, who organized the birders and transported them to McLean’s Town from Freeport; Mr. Shamie Rolle, owner of Calabash Tours and a leading naturalist and birder on Grand Bahama; and Ms. Renamae Symonette of the Ministry of Tourism - Sustainable Tourism Division.

Prior to making their way to McLean’s Town, the group of enthusiastic birders stopped off in the pine forest along the Grand Bahama Highway at a site where the very rare Brown-headed Nuthatch, only found on Grand Bahama Island, is known to make its home. They were rewarded when they were able to observe three of that rare specie, which was a first for many members in the group. No doubt their enthusiasm was heightened by this treat. When they arrived in McLean’s Town they were ready to continue birding, but were no doubt feeling that nothing could top having a ‘lifer’ in seeing the Brown-headed Nuthatch. Little did they expect that there would be another star-of-the-day.

Over the 0.8 mile new birding trail, to be known henceforth as the “Crabbing Bay Birding Trail”, the birding ‘flock’ was to identify some twenty nine (29) different species of birds, most of them Bahamian specialty birds, some resident species, and some migrants as well. The excitement could not be contained when the expedition leader announced to the group the sighting of the West Indian Woodpecker! This bird has not been seen on Grand Bahama island since the hurricanes of 2004 & 2005, and, even when seen it was only in McLean’s Town. It was thought that they did not survive the hurricanes and were only occurring on Abaco. Sawyer did report a sighting in the town of McLeans Town on September 23rd, 2011, but had not seen it since until last Saturday with a big group of birders. Was the one seen a survivor or traveler from Abaco? This rare bird on Grand Bahama is a relatively large woodpecker with a bright red crown and even black and white bands over its wings and back; white front; it also has a heavy, pointed beak.

West Indian Woodpecker

The Crabbing Bay Birding Trail starts out at an area dominated with mangroves and a creek. The relatively straight trail running east/west is an unpaved cut, traditional road along the coastline to its south and rich coppice to its north, and particularly thick with its vegetation in spots. It ends at the beautiful beach of Crabbing Bay. This rich, undisturbed habitat acts as a sanctuary for both local and migratory shore and land birds, and since it has not been frequently birded, a number of ‘new’ or unusual species could be expected to be seen at any given time.

Now that the trail is established, more expeditions could be expected to be led not only by Mr. Sawyer, but, also, Erika Gates and Shamie Rolle; and maybe other professional birders, exposing those who may not be birders to the wonders of the natural world of Grand Bahama through birds.

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Bird Talk - Erika Gates
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