The 2022 Fall season certainly did not disappoint with numerous first appearances for many islands. Pride of place to the first record of Elegant Tern in the West Indies reporting area—photographed on Grand Cayman. Other highlights included Grenada’s first Aplomado Falcon and Wattled Jacana; a Red-legged Honeycreeper in the Bahamas; a Gadwall in Antigua; and a Yellow-headed Blackbird in the Dominican Republic.
It is encouraging to see increased monitoring of areas in the Caribbean. On both Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, ten new eBird species have been added to each island while Grenada had six eBird “firsts.” Some of these are expected sightings, while others are great additions to their known avifauna.
Wildfowl to Shorebirds
A Black-bellied Whistling-Duck remained in Bermuda at various locations to 30 Nov+ (Eva Bottelli et al.). A female Cinnamon Teal was photographed at Cayman Brac 16–24 Nov (Nicole Martin). A Northern Shoveler photographed at Renegade Rum Swamplands 27 Oct was the first record for Grenada (Anthony Levesque, Eddie Massiah). Antigua and Barbuda’s first record of Gadwall, a female, was photographed here at Ayres Creek 12 Oct (Giles Osborne). A season high count of 106 White-cheeked Pintail was observed by at the freshwater pond at km marker 4.7 on rt. 997 Vieques, Puerto Rico 19 Aug (Erick Bermúdez). A male Redhead was photographed at Cayman Brac 20–28 Nov (Nicole Martin). A female Ring-necked Duck was photographed at La Chiva Lagoon, Vieques NWR, Puerto Rico 16 Oct (Erick Bermúdez)—the first confirmed record of this species for Vieques Island. Six rarely seen Ruddy Ducks were on the freshwater pond at km marker 4.7 on rt. 997, Vieques, Puerto Rico 14 Aug (John Martin) with five (four male, one female) last seen at Laguna Puerto Diablo 27 Nov (Daphne Gemmill, Erick Bermúdez, Omar Pérez). A Ruddy Duck was at Walkers Reserve, St. Andrew, Barbados 23–27 Aug (John Webster). The first sighting in Vieques of an American Flamingo since 2014 occurred at Sombe Salitral, Vieques, Puerto Rico 4 Sep (Cesar Montero). The bird remained at various locations until it was last seen at Laguna Playa Grande 28 Nov (Daphne Gemmill, Cesar Montero, Erick Bermúdez, Omar Pérez). A pair of Least Grebes, uncommon on Vieques, Puerto Rico, have bred successfully on a freshwater pond at km marker 4.7 on rt. 997 since 16 Jul 2020. Two adults and three chicks were seen 11 Nov (Daphne Gemmill, Cesar Montero). Bruce Purdy reported that in East Grand Bahama, sightings of Bahama Woodstars are way up over pre-hurricane numbers and Cuban Emeralds are way down. In Bermuda, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were sighted at Jenningsland 23–30 Nov+ (Lizzy Madeiros) and Pampas Lane, Smiths 28–30 Nov (Herb Marshall).
Due to above average rainfall and overflowing lagoons, the extremely rare white-shielded American Coot (formerly Caribbean Coot) peaked at nine on Laguna Puerto Diablo 27 Nov (Daphne Gemmill, Erick Bermúdez, Omar Pérez). Bermuda’s second record of Grey-headed Swamphen was discovered at Bernard Park 20–30 Oct—thought to have originated from the established population in Florida (Herb Marshall, Paul Watson). A Southern Lapwing was photographed at Brighton Beach, Saint George, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 4 Sep (Joanne Justo-Gaymes, Glenroy Gaymes). A probable continuing Collared Plover was at North Point St. Lucy, Barbados 2 Aug (Eddie Massiah) and perhaps the same bird was photographed 14 Sep (Julian Moore). Grenada’s first record of Wattled Jacana was photographed at Renegade Rum Swamplands 27 Aug–8 Oct (Kenrith Carter et al.)—at least three birds were present. A Hudsonian Godwit was the rarest of 25 shorebird species to be seen in Bermuda during the fall—one was at the Airport 22 Sep (Paul Watson); while another was photographed on the same date at Vieques NWR, Puerto Rico (Erick Bermudez). The second record of Hudsonian Godwit on Vieques, Puerto Ricowas photographed at Playa La Chiva on 27 Sep–2 Oct (Erick Bermúdez)—the first record was in 1978. The island’s third record was an injured bird at an ephemeral wetland at the junction of routes 977 and 996 on 27 Nov (Daphne Gemmill). In Guadeloupe, a flock of 18 Hudsonian Godwits was seen at Pointe des Châteaux 3 Sep during the World Shorebirds Day (AMAZONA). A Marbled Godwit flying high east over Pointe de Chateaux, Guadeloupe was a terrific sighting 27 Aug—with the observer able to obtain a photo for the island’s third record (Anthony Levesque). A Ruff present at the Petite Terre Nature Reserve, Guadeloupe 9 Nov (Anthony Levesque). A Solitary Sandpiper, scarce on Anguilla, was seen at Island Harbor 23 Sep, with three present 24 Sep and one remaining to 13 Nov (Jackie Cestero). In Barbados, Lesser Yellowlegs numbers peaked at 926 at Conga Road, St. Philip 4 Sep (John Webster).
Gulls to Falcons
Rare in the Cayman Islands, a Lesser Black-backed Gull was at Old Man Bay Dock, North Side, Grand Cayman 27 Oct–1 Nov (Ian Kirkham); while a long-staying Lesser Black-backed Gull in Barbados was last seen 26 Nov at Chancery Lane Swamp, Christ Church (Michael St. John). Photo confirmation provided one lucky observer with views of a Brown Noddy at Hungry Bay, Bermuda 23 Sep (Geoff Bell). Individual Black Terns were both photographed on 16 Sep at Barrage de Gaschet (an immature) and Port-Louis swamp (an adult)—only the third and fourth records in the last 10 years in Guadeloupe (Anthony Levesque); while two were seen from the point east of Grenada Airport 26 Oct (Grenada’s first record) amongst an incredible passage of Common Tern—73 were counted but there were probably several hundred that day (Anthony Levesque, Eddie Massiah). A White-winged Tern was Guadeloupe third record of White-winged Tern, a juvenile, was at Gaschet Reservoir 28 Sep (Anthony Levesque); with another seen at Fosters Private Wetland, St. Lucy, Barbados 1 Oct and various locations to 30 Oct (Michael St. John). An Elegant Tern discovered amongst Royal Terns on a dock near Old Man Bay, Grand Cayman 3–9 Oct was the first record for the West Indies reporting area (Peter Davey), although there are some records from Aruba, Providencia and San Andres. Fellow birder Ian Kirkham was quickly on the scene and took the following notes – ‘Sitting on the public dock among the Royal Terns. Smaller, slimmer body than Royal. Black crest extends to the eye and further down the nape as compared with the Royal. Bill is orange like the Royal, but the depth of the culmen is far less, giving the bill a slender and narrow look. Legs are black. Not a Cayenne Tern because of the body size and bill colour. The Elegant Tern’s bill is orange, whereas the Cayenne Tern has a yellow bill’. Two rare White-tailed Tropicbirds were offshore of Punta Conejo, Vieques, Puerto Rico 1 Aug (Erick Bermúdez). Pelagic trips off the east end of Bermuda produced a count of 23 Bermuda Petrels 18 Nov (Bob Flood et al). A Magnificent Frigatebird graced the skies over St. Georges, Bermuda 23 Sep (Neal Morris).
An adult Brown Booby was seen from ‘The Enchantment of the Seas’ off-shore to the north of Bermuda 22 Oct (Sherri LaBar). On Vieques, Brown Pelicans were returning to what was once the largest Puerto Rico breeding colony, with a count of 44 adults, 3 chicks, and 1 juvenile 27 Nov (Daphne Gemmill, Erick Bermúdez, Omar Pérez). A long-staying Glossy Ibis was joined by five more at St. Lucy, Barbados 30 Aug with 6 present to at least 30 Nov (John Webster). On Vieques, Puerto Rico, the second island record of Glossy Ibis was seen at Ensenada Sombe (Erick Bermúdez), but on 24 Nov at Laguna Playa Grande 19 Glossy Ibis were observed roosting in the dead mangroves (Daphne Gemmill, Cesar Montero). A Snail Kite present on Grenada since Dec 2020 was last seen at Renegade Rum Swamplands, Saint Andrew 29 Oct (Kate Charles); while the long-staying bird on Barbados, first seen in Sep 2020, was present throughout the Fall season. An adult Bald Eagle was well described flying moderately high along the coast at Media Luna, Granma for a rare appearance in Cuba 24 Aug (Darien Pina Davila); while the long-staying Bald Eagle in Bermuda was still present to at least 22 Oct (Ingela Perrson). A Short-tailed Hawk was an outstanding find at Pinar del Rio, Cuba 6 Sep. Nils Navarro gave the following details: Observed in detail, it was flying very high parallel to the coast in an easterly direction, the diagnostic characters were evident and corroborated with my colleague Ivalut Ruiz, observed with the use of Canon 10×40 IS binoculars, which allowed high definition and stability. Diagnostic characters were well confirmed, Light Morph, dark-colored primaries and secondaries, white underwing coverts, white belly, and dark hood with a white patch on the throat that joins the belly. A Swainson’s Hawk was photographed over the Los Hoyos Road near Ancon, Pinar del Rio, Cuba 7 Aug (Nils Navarro). A Downy Woodpecker was videoed by a non-birder at Daniel’s Head, Bermuda 3 Nov. When the video was viewed several weeks later, it provided evidence of an extremely rare species for the island (per Ingela Perrson). A Northern Flicker was a good find at Ocean View GC, Bermuda 26 Oct–3 Nov (Miguel Mejias). Grenada’s first Aplomado Falcon was photographed perched in a tree on the Calliste Road near the airport 28–30 Oct (Anthony Levesque, Eddie Massiah).
Flycatcher to Honeycreeper
Excellent photos confirmed Cayman Island’s first Yellow-bellied Flycatcher at Central Mangrove Dykes, Grand Cayman 29 Sep–2 Oct (Peter Davey). Rarely seen on Vieques, Puerto Rico, a Yellow-throated Vireo was observed along the Puerto Mosquito National Natural Landmark trail 4 Nov (Julio Salgado); and a further two were seen along the Cerro Playuela trail 21 Nov (Daphne Gemmill, Cesar Montero). Two White-winged Swallows were seen and photographed at St. George’s Harbour, Grenada 23 Oct (Anthony Levesque, Eddie Massiah). Northern Rough-winged Swallow is rarely seen in Bermuda but singletons were seen at Outer Lea Farm 25 Oct (Herb Marshall) and Spittal Pond 27 Oct (Paul Watson). In Bermuda, single Red-breasted Nuthatches were seen in Somerset Village 24 Sep (Christine Hoskins) and St. Georges GC 29 Sep (Paul Watson). A House Sparrow was a surprise sighting at Bridgetown Port, St. Michael, Barbados 30 Sep (Eddie Massiah). A Common Redpoll was on Coney Island, Bermuda 29 Nov–3 Dec (Bob Flood et al.)—a significant record, being the first photographic record of the race A. f. flammea in Bermuda. Two Lark Sparrows were present at Snipe Point, Little Cayman, Cayman Islands 20–22 Oct (Nicole Martin, Kelsey Rae-Smith). Scarce on the Cayman Islands, three Savannah Sparrows was photographed, with one at the St. George Cricket Ground 15–17 Nov and two at Otto Watler’s Lake 19–24 Nov (Peter Davey). An adult female Yellow-headed Blackbird (photographed here) was a truly outstanding find at Salinas de Puerto Hermoso, Dominican Republic 30 Oct (Pedro Gerano Rodriguez). A country first, it has only been recorded at a handful of locations in the West Indies. A Black-and-white Warbler was a good record at Harrison’s Point, St. Lucy, Barbados 16 Oct (Julian Moore). Bermuda’s second record of Kirtland’s Warbler was an outstanding find at Ferry Point Park, Bermuda 30 Sep (Paul Watson). A Townsend’s Warbler was photographed in the Bermuda Arboretum 23–30 Nov+ to the delight of visiting birders—only the 13th record for Bermuda since 1975 (Yann Muzika et al). A Summer Tanager was a good sighing at Harrison’s Point, Barbados 16 Oct (Julian & Jason Moore, John Webster). Two Palm Tanagers seen in St. John, Grenada 23 Oct have been present for nearly a year since their first sighting in Nov 2021 (Anthony Levesque). A Red-legged Honeycreeper was a terrific find at the Garden of the Groves, Freeport and West Grand Bahama 28 Oct. The female bird was well photographed providing a first record for the Bahamas (Bridget Davis, Martha Cartwright). The aftermath of Tropical Storm Karl brought honeycreepers to Florida, Texas and Louisiana, so it was no surprise that one made its way to the Bahamas.
Report processed by José Ramírez-Garofalo, 10 Apr 2023.