Bird Talk - Erika Gates
Out West, the Birding is Great!
By Erika Gates
Apr 3, 2014 - 12:53:28 PM

Pair of Swallow-tailed Kites at West End pond

The recent field trip by the Grand Bahama Birding Group to the western end of the island resulted in several "life birds" for members of the group.

Mr. Derek Gape, director at the Ginn development at West End had opened up the property to the birders to survey the many ponds in the area. Among the 40 species recorded that morning, a Northern Harrier Hawk was one of the new birds to be recorded swooping low over one of the ponds

The group then became mesmerized by a pair of rare Swallow-tailed Kites sitting side by side in a Casuarina tree, allowing everybody to get excellent views for at least 15 minutes. One of the birds circled slowly over the birders then returned to its mate!

If you are interested to know all 40 species recorded that morning, please check with eBird ( for submitted observations on March 15th, 2014 for the following locations: Holmes Rock Wetlands, Grand Bahama Westend. eBird is a real-time, online checklist program which has revolutionized the way that the birding community reports and accesses information about birds. Launched in 2002 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, eBird provides rich data sources for basic information on bird abundance and distribution. If you are not a member of eBird yet, just ask to be registered when you go on the site. eBird will add a new dimension to your birding experiences.

A large number of 83 Royal Terns were observed along the West End shoreline and the unusual sighting of so many birds of that species was even questioned by Cornell University when the group later submitted their observations into the eBird database of that institution! Several photos taken of the terns substantiated the sightings! 

To round off a wonderful morning of birding, everybody enjoyed lunch at Old Bahama Bay's restaurant on the beach. Erika presented two of her annual  "Basic Birding Class" students with certificates of BIRDS OF THE BAHAMAS for accomplishing birding milestones: Marian Chamberlain's life list  had reached 101 species and Michael Flowers's recorded 55 to date! The program is sponsored by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and encourages residents as well as visitors to get out there and record as many birds as possible while visiting or living in the Bahamas.

Also, we invite you to get out there, enjoy our beautiful environment, make new friends and learn about birds, just join us on our next fieldtrip on Saturday, May 3rd! We will explore Grand Bahama Nature Tours' trail along Gold Rock Creek as well as Gold Rock Beach and enjoy a light picnic lunch afterwards compliments of Grand Bahama Nature Tours! Meet at Garden of the Groves at 8 am.

Northern Harrier Hawk -

Grand Bahama Birding Group surveying ponds at West End

Swallow-tailed Kite in flight (Photo: Chris Baker))

Marian Chamberlain and Michael Flowers are presented with Birding Certificates by Erika Gates, cert. Bahamas Birding Guide

Large numbers of Royal Terns could be observed along West End shoreline

Birding group along West End shoreline

Erika Gates is 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 or (242) 373-2485

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