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Birds of Grand Bahama February 20-22, 2009

On this trip we had another great group of birders, we saw most of the endemics and saw many nice West Indian birds.  We missed a few, it is always hard to get them all.  The weather was very cool on this trip compared to last year.  The birding was better than last year with a good number of species seen.  On the way out of Port Everglades we saw the Great Cormorant which has returned for its second year.

Great Cormorant

Great Cormorant on the right next to a Double-crested Cormorant.

It was neat to see the Pilot Boat come and get the captain, who guided the ship out of the harbor.

Pilot Boat

On the cruise over we had a couple of distant Jaegers in U.S. waters and then one or two in Bahamian waters.
Jaeger species

Eagle-eyed Carl saw a gull with a little different "Jizz" than the Ring-billed Gulls that we had been seeing.  When we were able to get a  closer look, we turned it into a Black-legged Kittiwake!  This was in Bahamian waters, a first for me!  This was a great find and an exciting find.

Black-legged Kittiwake

The Black-legged Kittiwake followed the ship for a while, before alighting on the water.  We did not see it the rest of the trip.  We did not see any other neat species and were excited to be on land for some nice birding.  My friend picked us up at the terminal, we started birding at the Rand Nature Center.  This is always a good area for some of the local birds.  We saw the first of many Cuban Emeralds here

Cuban Emerald

 as well as Cuban Pewee, Hairy Woodpecker,

Cuban Pewee

Hairy Woodpecker

Western Spindalis, Thick-billed Vireo

Western Spindalis

Thick-billed Vireo

Red-legged Thrush and two Hooded Warblers.

Red-legged Thrush

While passing by one of the many roundabouts, we saw this Loggerhead Kingbird in the middle of one.  It posed for some photos, it was one of several that we saw.  This bird seemed to have more yellow on the underside than most.

Loggerhead Kingbird

We stopped by the landfill to look for Bahama Swallows but did not have any luck.  This is always a tough bird in the winter months.  We checked into our hotel and then birded one of the gulf course ponds.  We had some Pied-billed Grebes, American Coot, Blue-winged Teal, Common Moorhen and two SNOW GEESE!  This was the first time for me seeing Snow Geese in the West Indies which was exciting.  We also had one Barn Swallow and a Northern Rough-winged Swallow.  The Northern Rough-winged Swallow was also new for my West Indies list.

We had a very early start on day two in hopes of finding Key West Quail-Dove.  There is no easy way to see these birds, they are very skittish and flush or run away as soon as they see you.  We drove one of the coastal roads that goes through some coastal coppice.  We did not see any along this road.  We walked into one of the hammocks where I had seen one in past years.  We struck out here as well and did not see any on this trip.  We drove north from the coast on Owl Hole road and birded another nice area of coppice habitat.  We had the first of many Greater Antillean Bullfinches here, last year we hardly saw any.  In fact we almost missed them which would have been a first.

Greater Antillean Bullfinch

At Owl Hole we did not see any Barn Owl as in previous years, cave divers may have upset them.  There were two eggs under a ledge that looked abandoned.  You can see that the ladder going down into the Blue Hole goes right past the nest site.

Barn Owl eggs

Here is a sign of the times I guess, this is a new sign warning those thrill seeker cave divers.  You can see Barn Owl white wash on the sign.

Owl Hole Sign

Owl Hole

While we were at Owl Hole this cool day flying moth landed on Warren.

Moth, what species?

We had a Black-faced Grassquit near Owl Hole, this was the first of several that we saw. We continued birding east in the direction of Mclean's Town at the east end of the Island.  We saw several of the resident race of American Kestrel.

American Kestrel (Bahama race)

Notice the lack of heavy streaking on the sides like the mainland race.  They are smaller as well, a very pretty bird.

American Kestrel (Bahama race)

We traveled into the pinewoods on several different roads, we were able to see many different Olive-capped Warblers.  These are always nice to see, they have a very pleasant song.

Olive-capped Warbler showing its olive cap.

Olive-capped Warbler

While cruising the pinewoods we looked for Brown-headed Nuthatch, this is a tough bird to see on Grand Bahama. 

Typical pinewoods road

This is also the only Island in the West Indies that have Brown-headed Nuthatch.  It is a species that is being considered a different species from the mainland form.  We were very, very lucky to find two birds north of the main highway on Owl Road.  I find it always exciting to see them, we were not able to find them last year.  We drove for many miles through suitable habitat last year but just could not find one.

Brown-headed Nuthatch (Bahama race)

We also were able to get great looks at the resident race of Yellow-throated Warbler.

Yellow-throated Warbler (Bahama race)

 This is another candidate for a new species as it looks different and acts different than the mainland race.  We also had several different La Sagra's Flycatchers, this is such a neat myiarchus flycatcher with a very distinct call.

La Sagra's Flycatcher

After searching the pinewoods for a while we decided to move on.  On the way towards High Rock, I spotted some Bahama Swallows flying low over the pinewoods.  We were able to stop in time to get very good looks at them.  We had two or three birds.

Bahama Swallow

We were very fortunate to see these birds as we did not see any the rest of the trip.  The birds seem to be spread out at that time of year, with perhaps some birds migrating farther south. When we got to High Rock we went to one of my favorite restaurants on Grand Bahama the Diamond Sunrise restaurant.

Diamond Sunrise Restaurant

The food was excellent as always, I had the Cracked Conch which was as good as ever.  After a good meal we cruised another beach road looking for Bahama Yellowthroat.  After quite a bit of searching we were all rewarded with an excellent view of a male.  We had this Pine Devil Moth sitting on the side of the Diamond Sunrise Restaurant, a very pretty moth.

Pine Devil Moth

Lighthouse at High Rock

Bahama Yellowthroat

We also had our first good looks at a Bananaquit, these birds are not as common as they used to be.  I think that the hurricanes that hit a few years ago really hurt their numbers.  I remember finding them without any problem prior to the hurricanes, now you have to search a lot more for them.  I think that we had about four in total.


We finally made it to Mclean's Town where we found a Great Black-backed Gull as well as an American Oystercatcher.  This may be the first American Oystercatcher for Grand  Bahama.  I don't know for sure though, it is the first one that I have seen there.

American Oystercatcher

We headed back to Freeport after a long day of birding, we had dinner at Zorba's Greek Restaurant.  Always excellent food with many local dishes.  On our last day of birding we searched some of the pinewoods areas for Zenaida Dove.  We did not have luck finding one, but we saw another Bahama Yellowthroat as well as many other local birds.  We then went to Garden of the Groves for some excellent birding and a great lunch.  We went to a private residence to look for a Bahama Woodstar but we could not find one.  However, we did see two Ruby-throated Hummingbirds which are rare in the Bahamas!  We also checked out one of the Gulf course lakes for waterfowl.  We had many Least Grebes and a Sora Rail which was nice.  The Sora feed out in the open.  We had a Canada Goose at the same course which was nice.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Least Grebes

Least Grebe


Canada Goose

We had 90 species including 20-species of warbler!

A list of birds seen are below, this was another great trip!

SNOW GOOSE Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
CANADA GOOSE Hairy Woodpecker
Ring-necked Duck White-eyed Vireo
LEAST GREBE Yellow-throated Vireo
Pied-billed Grebe Blue-headed Vireo
Double-crested Cormorant Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Great Blue Heron Barn Swallow
Little Blue Heron Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Black-crowned Night-Heron Gray Catbird
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron Northern Mockingbird
Glossy Ibis European Starling
Turkey Vulture Northern Parula
Osprey Magnolia Warbler
Red-tailed Hawk Cape May Warbler
American Kestrel Black-throated Blue Warbler
Merlin Yellow-rumped Warbler
Common Moorhen Black-throated  Green Warbler
American Coot Yellow-throated Warbler (both races)
Black-bellied Plover OLIVE-CAPPED WARBLER
Piping Plover Pine Warbler
Killdeer Prairie Warbler
Pomarine Jaeger Black-and-white Warbler
Laughing Gull American Redstart
Ring-billed Gull Worm-eating Warbler
Herring Gull Ovenbird
GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL Northern Waterthrush
BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE Louisiana Waterthrush
Royal Tern Common Yellowthroat
Eurasian Collared-Dove BANANAQUIT
CHUCK-WILL'S-WIDOW Painted Bunting
CUBAN EMERALD Red-winged Blackbird
Belted Kingfirsher  


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