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Columns : Bird Talk - Erika Gates Last Updated: Jan 13, 2017 - 7:59:54 PM
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Columns : Bird Talk - Erika Gates
Annual Grand Bahama Birdcount involves visiting and local birders - Jan 13, 2017 - 12:36:08 PM

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For the past 16 years, Grand Bahama has participated in the so-called “Christmas Bird Count”, a census that began 116 years ago in the United States and now includes all the Canadian Provinces, the Caribbean, Bahamas, South America as well as several Pacific islands.

Last year’s count shattered records and resulted in 2408 counts where 71659 observers recorded over 66 million birds of 2403 species!

Between December 15th and January 5th on one chosen day, birds are counted within a 15 mile circle from sunrise to sunset...
Community : Grand Bahama
Lucaya International School receives Wildlife Habitat Certification - Jun 25, 2016 - 1:39:13 PM

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To help reconnect today’s students to the outdoors, the National Wildlife Federation assists schools in developing outdoor classrooms where educators and students learn how to attract and support local wildlife.

These wildlife habitats become places where students not only learn about wildlife species and ecosystems, but they also hone their academic skills and nurture their innate curiosity and creativity.

To meet the criteria for certification the students had to create a Wildlife Habitat that provides a number of specific elements for each of the followings habitat essentials...
Columns : Bird Talk - Erika Gates
Grand Bahama Birders participate in Global Big Day - May 20, 2016 - 12:34:44 PM

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Freeport, Bahamas - Once again Grand Bahama Birders were given the opportunity to participate in Global Big Day, an event organized by Cornell University’s Ornithology Department.

The Bahamas was one of 144 countries from around the world where birders went into the field all day on May 14th counting and recording birds and submitting them to eBird, the world’s largest ornithological data base.

On that day, globally, 15767 participants recorded 6230 species. The Bahamas recorded 120 species for the day which represented an encouraging increase of 40 species over last year. The honour of having observed most species...
Columns : Bird Talk - Erika Gates
Grand Bahama Birdcount unites local birders and visitors - Jan 29, 2016 - 11:44:45 AM

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For the past 15 years Grand Bahama Island has participated in what has become known as “Christmas Bird Count” a census that began 115 years ago in the United States and now includes Canada and the Bahamas. Between December 15th and January 5th birds are counted within a circle of 15 miles from sunrise to sunset. This year over 60.000 participants observed and recorded birds in their respective countries thereby contributing valuable information to the longest running database in ornithology.

The primary objective of the annual count is to monitor the status and distribution of bird populations across the Western Hemisphere. When results of the count are entered into the Audubon database we begin to gain a clearer picture how bird populations have changed over the years...
Columns : Bird Talk - Erika Gates
Grand Bahama Birding Group visits Freeport Sites - Dec 8, 2015 - 11:00:17 PM

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During the groups November fieldtrip several sites within the Freeport area were visited and exciting new finds were recorded.

At the Ruby Golf Course a new bird for most of the participants was a Savannah Sparrow, a small seed-eating migrant that may begin its fall journey as far north as Alaska or the arctic circle and travel all the way to Southern California, Mexico, Florida and the Bahamas to spend the winter. Everybody had a good view of this long-distance traveler as it perched comfortably in a small bush for the longest time. 16 species were observed at the Ruby...

Columns : Bird Talk - Erika Gates
Grand Bahama Birding Group following Spring Migration - May 29, 2015 - 11:10:31 AM


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The May fieldtrip of sixteen birders from the Grand Bahama Birding Group led by Erika Gates, resulted in 34 species and mixed emotions about several of the birds observed during their trip to the eastern part of Grand Bahama.

Their first stop at the Pelican Point settlement evoked excitement as many in the group had not seen the striking male Bobolinks which travel in flocks from their wintering grounds in the Argentinian grasslands and grain fields to the Northern U.S. and Canada to raise their families. They only linger a few days on Grand Bahama, passing through to rest and feed on seeds and berries, their favourite food easily crunched up with their conical bills. The birders were able to observe a mixed flock of 35 males and females.

Another happy sight was the circling of endemic Bahama Swallows over Pelican Point...
Columns : Bird Talk - Erika Gates
Fall Migration in Full Swing at Garden of the Groves - Nov 13, 2015 - 12:48:57 PM

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Freeport, The Bahamas - Members of the Grand Bahama Birding Group were treated to a variety of magnificent species during their October fieldtrip at Garden of the Groves. Erika Gates, who was leading the group explained that several of the birds observed, only remain on Grand Bahama for a short time to feed and rest before they continue their migratory journey further south to the South American continent.

Among these enjoyed by the group were the brilliant-yellow Prothonotary Warbler, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Hermit Thrush while the Black-throated green Warbler can be seen on Grand Bahama all winter long...
Columns : Bird Talk - Erika Gates
Birding – Better in the Bahamas - Sep 25, 2015 - 11:25:02 AM

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Throughout the summer the Bahamas received increasing attention as a birding destination through a variety of events staged by people as well as birds!

For the first time in 51 years Woodstorks were seen on Grand Bahama Island! Another rarity was the Roseate Spoonbill. Both species enjoyed the rain-filled wetlands at the Freeport Pine Ridge Landfill. They were first observed by Lou Carroll, the General Manager of the facility who is making sure that birds and their habitat are respected by his staff and given a wide berth by heavy equipment!
Columns : Bird Talk - Erika Gates
Birding Fieldtrip to West Grand Bahama - Apr 9, 2015 - 6:44:58 PM


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The recent fieldtrip by the Grand Bahama Birding Group, led by Erika Gates, took enthusiastic participants to several productive birding sites in the western part of Grand Bahama Island.

The first stop was the mangrove wetland between Paradise Cove and the Westend Highway where 14 species were observed. A Reddish Egret and a Tricolored Heron were exciting new species for several of the birders...

Columns : Bird Talk - Erika Gates
Grand Bahama Bird Count unites local birders and visitors - Jan 21, 2015 - 11:01:00 PM

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For the past 15 years Grand Bahama Island has participated in the so-called “Christmas Bird Count” a census that began 115 years ago in the United States and now includes Canada, the Bahamas, Caribbean, South and Central America. Between December 15th and January 5th on one chosen day, birds are counted within a circle of 15 miles from sunrise to sunset. This year over 60.000 participants observed and recorded birds in their respective countries thereby contributing valuable information to the longest running database in ornithology.

The primary objective of the annual count is to monitor the status and distribution of bird populations across the Western Hemisphere. When results of the count are entered into the Audubon database we begin to gain a clearer picture how bird populations have changed over the years. The information is also vital for conservation.
Columns : Bird Talk - Erika Gates
Garden of the Groves concludes International Migratory Bird Events of 2014 - Dec 31, 2014 - 1:54:09 PM

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Freeport, Grand Bahama Island - This is the sixth year since the restoration of the Garden that International Migratory Bird events have been celebrated by Garden of the Groves. This year’s theme was “Why Birds matter” and Erika Gates, Co-ordinator of the events, explained that the message she and her team was getting across in all activities was that birds make life better in so many ways. She went on to say that “Birds are providers of invaluable ecosystem services, such as insect control, seed dispersal, pollination. Birdwatching and Bird Photography helps generate millions of dollars into international economies. Also, birds bring solace to our complicated world!”
Columns : Bird Talk - Erika Gates
Garden of the Groves celebrating the annual miracle of bird migration - Nov 20, 2014 - 4:12:36 PM

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Freeport, Grand Bahama Island - During November of each year nature enthusiasts, conservation leaders, researchers and bird lovers throughout the Bahamas and the Caribbean promote public awareness of the amazing journeys that birds undertake each year. Birds fly over thousands of miles between their breeding grounds in North America and Canada and their winter homes in the Bahamas, the Caribbean and South America.

It has become a tradition over the past six years at Garden of the Groves to host a variety of events during this time and Mrs. Marilyn Laing, coordinator, states: “We want to share the message of bird conservation with the Grand Bahama community and we offer bird and conservation related activities for all ages throughout the month whereby we focus on education, fun and exercise!”

Columns : Bird Talk - Erika Gates
Grand Bahama 'Basic Birding Class' set for November 1st - Oct 15, 2014 - 12:00:48 AM

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Freeport, Bahaas - One of the events during our annual International Migratory Bird Celebration at Garden of the Groves is the "Basic Birding Class"!
 
Over the past 13 years more than 150 residents from the Grand Bahama community have participated in these most enjoyable and educational classes. The program is sponsored by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Grand Bahama Nature Tours and yours truly will be the instructor. Classes begin Nov. 1st and run for five consecutive Saturdays, beginning at 8 am with two hours theory, followed by two hour fieldtrips.
 
The primary focus of our birding class is to master the challenge and the process of bird identification. In a classroom setting, the proper...
Columns : Bird Talk - Erika Gates
Birding at Grand Bahama's "Delightful Dump" - Sep 18, 2014 - 1:41:07 PM

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One of Grand Bahama's productive birding sites is the local landfill, operated by Sanitation Services. Lou Carroll, the General Manager who loves birds, and Jason Albury, the Landfill Manager, make sure that their heavy collection trucks and other machinery avoid the wetland patches created by rain, that provide food and habitat for the resident and migratory bird species! As the matter of fact when you look at the photos of the birds and their environment you may think that you are in a national park rather than at the dump!
 
Of course one of the most abundant species that you can find at most landfills is the Laughing Gull, a resident of  the Bahamas. These birds surround the tractors which distribute delectable edibles for them. When you look up along the high elevation created by years of garbage and now covered by grasse
Columns : Bird Talk - Erika Gates
"Go Wild - Go Birding" on Grand Bahama Island - Jun 4, 2014 - 10:33:33 PM

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Freeport, Bahamas - This month's field trip of the Grand Bahama Birding Group began with a survey of a Wilson's Plover nest on Discovery Beach. Each summer we cordon off this area with stakes, caution tape and signs as it has been a favourite nesting area of Wilson's Plovers and Least Terns and eggs and babies could be easily crushed by cars that may park on this dune to enjoy the view.

The first bird to lay its eggs this year on April 25th was a Wilson's Plover and she was sitting on three eggs when we arrived that morning, perfectly camouflaged, blending in with the environment. The nest was monitored over the next weeks and on May 26 (32 days later) the first chick hatched, fully feathered with the markings of its parents, walking around the "scrape" in the sand where its siblings were yet to be born! On the 33rd day the second...
Columns : Bird Talk - Erika Gates
Out West, the Birding is Great! - Apr 3, 2014 - 12:53:28 PM

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

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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...
Columns : Bird Talk - Erika Gates
Successful 14th annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) Held - Jan 15, 2014 - 11:25:12 PM

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Freeport, Bahamas - The annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) was held on January 4th. Erika Gates of Grand Bahama Nature Tours who has been organizing the count over the past 9 years was delighted with the results. “We recorded a total of 110 species, whereby 99 were observed this past Saturday and an additional 11 during count week, a period 3days prior and 3 days after count day! I am also pleased with the number of participants that turned out for this year’s event which reached 35!”, from sunrise to sunset on Grand Bahama Island.


The first “Christmas Bird Count” was held over 100 years ago in the United States. Up until then it had been a tradition for persons that enjoyed the outdoors to engage in the “Christmas Bird Hunt”. People would go into the fields and forests in teams and shoot any bird that they came across...
Columns : Bird Talk - Erika Gates
Garden of the Groves’ Celebration of Migratory Birds - Dec 14, 2013 - 11:37:24 AM

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Freeport, Bahamas - During the final months of this year nature enthusiasts, researchers, scientists and conservation leaders throughout the Caribbean and the Bahamas joined in the celebration and promotion of public awareness of the miracle of bird migration.

Each year birds travel over thousands of miles between their breeding grounds in the United States and Canada and their winter homes in the Caribbean, Bahamas and South America. For the past five years it has become a tradition at Garden of the Groves to host a variety of events and Mrs. Marilyn Laing, co-ordinator, states...

Columns : Bird Talk - Erika Gates
Erika Gates to hold Grand Bahama Birding Class, starting October 26th - Oct 24, 2013 - 10:30:41 PM

Freeport, Grand Bahama - Just a reminder that our Basic Birding Class  begins this coming Saturday, October 26 and runs for four consecutive Saturdays (2 hours classroom work + 2 hours field trip).  

Instructor, Erika Gates, is a Certified Bahamas Birding Guide, Author of many bird columns and reports on birding and birding events. She also wrote "Natives of Grand the Bahamas" - a Guide to Vegetation and Birds of Grand Bahama. in 2010 Erika received the Lifetime Achievement Award for her outstanding contribution in Bird Conservation on Grand Bahama Island by the Society for Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds (SCSCB). In 2000 she was the recipient of the Cacique Award presented by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism...
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