West Indies & Bermuda: Fall 2016

Fall 2016: 1 Aug–30 Nov

Robert L. Norton (Bahamas, Greater Antilles)

Andrew Dobson (Bermuda)

Anthony Levesque (Lesser Antilles)

Recommended citation: 

Norton, R., A. Dobson, & A. Levesque. 2022. Fall 2016: West Indies & Bermuda. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-deL> North American Birds.

Regional highlights

Bermuda highlights include the first record of Grey-headed Swamphen and first Rusty Blackbird for 41 years. Tropical Storm Karl produced an unprecedented number of Pectoral Sandpipers. The Bahamas recorded its first record of Sedge Wren. A Western Wood-Pewee was an extreme rarity on Cuba.

Waterfowl to Crane

A flock of 40 West Indian Whistling-Ducks was a good number at Green Castle Estate, Saint Mary, Jamaica 28 Oct (Dennis Hrehowsik). A duo of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks made a showing at Bel Air Drive Pond, George Town, Grand Cayman 6 Sep (Peter Davey, Denny Swaby, Cherie Swaby). An imm. Brant was discovered at Cloverdale Pond, Bermuda 11 Nov (Tim White) but did not appear healthy and died 26 Nov. A very early Redhead was found (ph.) at West End, Freeport, West Grand Bahama 25 Aug (Linda Barry-Cooper fide Bruce Purdy). A pair of Lesser Scaup was reported at the Punta Cana Ecological Foundation water treatment ponds, La Altagracia, Dominican Republic 12 Nov (Patrick Van Thull). November wildfowl arrivals in Bermuda included two Buffleheads at Coney Is. 12 Nov (Neal Morris), two Common Goldeneye at Mangrove Lake 29 Nov (Paul Watson) and two Red-breasted Mergansers at Mangrove Lake 14–30 Nov+ (Paul Watson). A Hooded Merganser at Port Royal GC, Bermuda 6–7 Aug was very unusual (Andrew Dobson). Two American Flamingo were noted at Great Pedro Pond, Saint Elizabeth, Jamaica 8 Sep (Denny Swaby). Ten Common Nighthawk were observed in flying over West End, Freeport, Grand Bahama 4 Sep and the distinctive call noted compared to Antillean Nighthawk (Linda Barry-Cooper). Common Nighthawk was reported at Barker’s NP, West Bay, Grand Cayman 7 Aug (Denny Swaby)—diagnosed by wing-tips extending beyond the tail feathers, and the white wing patch with solid black in front. Four Antillean Nighthawk were reported at Patrick’s Island Lake, George Town, Grand Cayman 7 Aug (Peter Davey) indicating concurrent movements of both species in early fall. A Spotted Rail responded to audio tape at Elim Pools, Saint Elizabeth, Jamaica 19 Nov (Ann Sutton). Spittal Pond hosted the earliest Bermuda fall record of Least Bittern 8-15 Aug (Paul Watson). A Grey-headed Swamphen at Somerset Long Bay, Bermuda 25 Oct–19 Nov (Tim White) was the first record for Bermuda. Two likely sightings of a Sandhill Crane were made over Pembroke Marsh 29 Oct (Jeane Nikolai) and Stocks Harbour 31 Oct (Peter Adhemar). 

Shorebirds to Gulls

Five American Avocets were noted at Pullman Cayo Coco, Ciego de Ávila, Cuba 11 Nov (John Yerger). A Pacific Golden-Plover was seen (ph) at Grand Harbour, George Town, Grand Cayman 18 Sep (Peter Davey)—apparently “the same bird that first appeared in 2011 and was properly photographed in 2012. An American Golden-Plover (ph.) at Palisadoes Beach, Kingston, Jamaica 17 Nov (Ricardo Miller) was reported as “an injured bird, captured by hand and examined.” A number of unusual shorebirds were recorded in Bermuda with: Hudsonian Godwit at Spittal Pond 26–28 Aug (Paul Watson); Red Knot at Devonshire Marsh 11–26 Oct (Paul Watson); Ruff on Port Royal GC 17 Sept (Andrew Dobson); Baird’s Sandpiper at Bermuda Airport 25–27 Aug (Paul Watson) and another at Port Royal GC 4–5 Sept (Andrew Dobson); and a flock of 5 Buff-breasted Sandpipers on Port Royal GC 6 Sep (Andrew Dobson). Following the passing of T.S. Karl, about 500 Pectoral Sandpipers were counted at Bermuda Airport 24 Sept (Paul Watson, Andrew Dobson). A Long-billed Dowitcher was well observed at Devonshire Marsh, Bermuda 1–6 Nov (Paul Watson, Andrew Dobson). A pair of Solitary Sandpipers were reported 1, 3 and 8 Aug (Erika Gates, Delores Kellman, Martha Cartwright) at Pine Ridge Landfill, Freeport and West Grand Bahama where a Pectoral Sandpiper was also noted. A Wilson’s Phalarope was on Spittal Pond, Bermuda 6–8 Oct (Andrew Dobson). Two Red Phalarope were found alive but unable to fly at Warwick Long Bay, Bermuda 20 Nov (Dave Curnow) and Glebe Hill 21 Nov (Peggy Corrao) but died shortly after being taken to BAMZ. In Puerto Rico, single Ring-billed Gulls were seen at Refugio de Vida Silvestre de Boquerón, Cabo Rojo 21 Oct (Nita Sylvester) and at Aguadilla 18 Nov (Luis Ramos). A Bonaparte’s Gull was observed at Charca Vaquerio Yeguada, Camuy, Puerto Rico 27 Nov (Luis Irizarry). A 1st winter Black-headed Gull was reported (ph.) at Refugio de Vida Silvestre de Boquerón, Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico 16 Oct (Rafy Rodriguez). 

Terns to Hawks

A Forster’s Tern was noted at Ponce, Puerto Rico 12 Aug (Sadhu Govardhan) while another was reported at Wharf Faucault, Sud, Haiti 11 Sep (Sean Christensen). A flock of 20 Common Terns at Mosquito Pier, Vieques, Puerto Rico 23 Sept (John Martin) were photographed for the first documented record for this species on Vieques (fide Daphne Gemmill). Four previous records, all in the fall, were by people familiar with this tern but did not realize it was a first record for Vieques so did not document their sighting. A Common Tern was noted at Labadee RCL resort, Nord, Haiti 28 Nov (Rick Dunning). A Leach’s Storm-Petrel was carefully noted 12 Nov en route to Mona Isl. from Mayaguez (Sadhu Govardhan)—”Flying very low over the surface, fast flight and characteristic white rump and light brown wing band, and slightly forked tail.” A Double-crested Cormorant in Mangrove Lake, Bermuda 8 Aug was the earliest fall record (Miguel Mejias). An American White Pelican that lingered at Reef Golf Course, Freeport, West Grand Bahama through the summer season was last noted (ph.) 16 Sep (Martha Cartwright, Charmaine Hall). Two American White Pelican were reported (ph.) 18 Oct (Rodger Neilson, Elwood Bracey et al.) at Treasure Cay Sunset Ridge and vicinity, North Abaco and Grand Cay, Abaco and still present through 29 Oct (Keith M Kemp). Spittal Pond hosted the earliest Bermuda fall record of Least Bittern 8–15 Aug (Paul Watson). The long-staying Black Vulture at Freeport, West Grand Bahama was photographed 1 and 8 Aug (Delores Kellman, Martha Cartwright, Erika Gates, Linda Barry-Cooper) at Freeport Pine Ridge Landfill. A pair of Swallow-tailed Kite were seen (ph.) at the Agriculture Grounds, Bodden Town, Grand Cayman 10 Sep (Peter Davey). A Swallow-tailed Kite at Puerto Plata, Altamira, Dominican Republic 28 Aug (Jorge Brocca, Lisa McDowell Johnson) was a little early while a Swallow-tailed Kite found 11 Oct (Katherine Fischer) at Mount Pleasant Road, Portland, Jamaica was a little tardy for migration. The Common Black Hawk reported last season was again noted at Barkers Point, West Bay, Grand Cayman 28 Aug (Danielle Bouchard).

Owl to Thrush

A Short-eared Owl was at Patrick’s Is. Lake, George Town, Grand Cayman seen 23 Oct (Peter Davey). An apparent stow-away Eastern Wood-Pewee was found (ph.) 22 Oct (Amy Darling) aboard Harmony of the Seas bound for Jamaica Port, Trelawny was “almost certainly a migrant we picked up either earlier in the week (as far back as leaving Florida) or in Jamaica. I saw no other birds onboard.” An Eastern Wood-Pewee (ph.) was found at The Retreat, Bahamas National Trust, Village Rd, New Providence, Bahamas 2 Oct (Carolyn Wardle). A Western Wood-Pewee was reported (ph.) at La Habana, Cuba 22 Oct (Sergio Luis del Castillo). An Acadian Flycatcher was observed (phat Canan Land Road, North Side, Grand Cayman.) 22 Sep (Peter Davey). A Great Crested Flycatcher was on Nonsuch Is., Bermuda 21 Nov (Peter Flood, Kate Sutherland, Tom Johnson). A Philadelphia Vireo was seen in Bermuda Arboretum 16 Oct (Andrew Dobson, Erich & Janice Hetzel). Two Philadelphia Vireo were found at Agriculture Grounds, Bodden Town, Grand Cayman 8 Oct (Peter Davey), and another Philadelphia Vireo, rare in eastern Caribbean, was seen (ph.) at La Bajura, Aguadilla, Puerto Rico 21 Oct (Sergio A. Colón López, Luis Ramos, Julio Salgado). Good numbers of Golden Swallow (20) were reported 25 Nov (James Goetz) Sud-Est, Haiti, Record numbers of Cliff Swallows appeared in Bermuda in Aug with a maximum flock of 40 at Spittal Pond 12 Aug (Ingela Persson, Wendy Frith). An extraordinary find at Garden of the Groves, Freeport and West Grand Bahama was a Sedge Wren photographed 1 Nov by visiting birders (Antoine Chabrolle, Eric Delcroix, Frantz Delcroix Duzont, Anthony Levesque) representing the first record for the Bahamas and West Indies. Haiti’s endemic La Selle Thrush was heard calling at Segen Tèt Kay Jak, Sud-Est, Haiti 29 Aug (James Goetz). An American Robin was feeding at Fort Scaur, Bermuda 6 Nov (Andrew Dobson). Four American Pipit were noted (ph.) at the Abaco Neem farm, Central Abaco, Bahamas 28 Oct (Elwood Bracey, RN et al.). 

Redpoll to Blackbird

A Common Redpoll was seen at Coney Is., Bermuda 23 Oct (Neal Morris). Two Snow Bunting were discovered on Cooper’s Is., Bermuda 20 Nov (Andrew Dobson, Erich & Janice Hetzel). A Louisiana Waterthrush at Compston’s Pond 31 Jul–2 Aug provided the first returning fall warbler (Paul Watson). Another fairly early Louisiana Waterthrush was noted at Garden of the Groves, Freeport and Grand Bahama 3 Aug (Joshua Davis). A big fall-out of Blackpoll Warblers followed the passage of Hurricane Nicole (a direct hit on Bermuda on 13 Nov) with hundreds of birds noted 15–16 Nov (Andrew Dobson). A Bananaquit (ph.) in the Greater Antilles might not sound very exciting but finding one (Michael J Good et al.) on Paredón Grande, Ciego de Ávila, Cuba 14 Nov is a big deal, since “this is only the second record for this location and the first photographic data collected at this location. This is not a common bird on Cuba and at this location.” Sparrows seemed to be everywhere especially for the French team of birders visiting Grand Bahama! An early Lark Sparrow was found (ph.) at West End, Freeport and West Grand Bahama 17 Sep (Linda Barry-Cooper). The same or another Lark Sparrow was found (ph.) at West End, Freeport, Grand Bahama 25 Oct (Antoine Chabrolle, Eric Delcroix, Frantz Delcroix Duzont, Anthony Levesque). A Lincoln’s Sparrow responded to audio tape at North dump (Abaco), North Abaco and Grand Cay 22 Oct (Reg Patterson). Another Lincoln’s Sparrow was found (ph.) at West End, Freeport, Grand Bahama 25–27 Oct (Antoine Chabrolle, Eric Delcroix, Frantz Delcroix Duzont, Anthony Levesque). A sparrow bonanza continued on 27 Oct at West End, Freeport, Grand Bahama with two Grasshopper Sparrows (ph.), a Clay-colored Sparrow, a White-crowned Sparrow, and a Swamp Sparrow (Antoine Chabrolle, Eric Delcroix, Frantz Delcroix Duzont, Anthony Levesque) A Dickcissel was at Fort Scaur, Bermuda 18 Oct (Andrew Dobson). A Rusty Blackbird, the first in Bermuda since 1975, was a surprise on Turtle Hill GC 25–26 Nov (Andrew Dobson). 

Report processed by José Ramírez-Garofalo, 9 Mar 2022.

Photos–West Indies & Bermuda: Fall 2016

Bermuda’s and the region’s first Grey-headed Swamphen was an extraordinary discovery by Tim White at Somerset Long Bay on 25 Oct 2016. Present until 19 Nov, it was photographed here on 31 Oct. Photo © Andrew Dobson.

Four visiting birders from Guadeloupe were thrilled to discover and photograph the first Sedge Wren for the Bahamas and the West Indies on 1 Nov 2016. Photo © Frantz Delcroix Duzont

A Rusty Blackbird was a great find at Turtle Hill GC 25–26 Nov 2016 (here 25 Nov). It was the first record in Bermuda since 1975. Photo © Andrew Dobson.

A scarce visitor to Bermuda, this Baird’s Sandpiper was present on Port Royal GC 4–5 Sept 2016. Photographed here on 4 Sep. Photo © Andrew Dobson.

Hurricane Nicole’s direct hit on Bermuda produced a big fall-out of Blackpoll Warblers with hundreds present 15–16 Nov. Many were exhausted and approachable like this one photographed at Riddell’s Bay GC 15 Oct 2016. Photo © Andrew Dobson.

Rare in Bermuda, this immature Brant was discovered at Cloverdale Pond on 11 Nov 2016 but was not feeding well and unfortunately found dead 26 Nov. Photographed here on 11 Nov. Photo © Andrew Dobson.

A single American Robin was discovered feeding and photographed at Fort Scaur, Bermuda on 6 Nov 2016. Photo © Andrew Dobson.

Hudsonian Godwit is an extreme rarity in Bermuda, so one present at Spittal Pond 26-28 Aug 2016 provided great photo opportunities (here 26 Aug). Photo © Andrew Dobson.

Long-billed Dowitchers are scarce in Bermuda, but this individual present 1–6 Nov 2016 was observed by many birders. Photographed here 2 Nov. Photo © Andrew Dobson.

A Red Knot was present in Devonshire Marsh, Bermuda 11–26 Oct 2016. Photographed here on 16 Oct—only one or two of this declining species are seen annually in Bermuda. Photo © Andrew Dobson.

Always hoped for in the fall migration, a Wilson’s Phalarope graced Spittal Pond, Bermuda 6–8 Oct 2016. Photographed here on 8 Oct. Photo © Andrew Dobson.