West Indies & Bermuda: Spring 2018

Spring 2018: 1 Mar–31 May

Robert L. Norton (Greater Antilles, Bahamas)

Andrew Dobson (Bermuda)

Anthony Levesque (Lesser Antilles)

Recommended citation:

Norton, R., A. Dobson, & A. Levesque. 2021. Spring 2018: West Indies & Bermuda. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-aix> North American Birds.

To evaluate reports from the eastern Greater Antilles (Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands) since September 2017, one has to start with the impact of class 4/5 hurricanes Maria and Irma. After inflicting major damage to the Virgin Islands, Irma passed to the north of Puerto Rico, delivering a glancing blow to Vieques. The two hurricanes left a wide swath of habitat and infrastructure destruction from Barbuda in the northern Lesser Antilles to the eastern Greater Antilles. In a region of approximately 214,600 square miles of land area, the following bird observations are merely a blink or snapshot of activity captured during neotropical migration by a handful of people representing several nations. Although nature does nothing by accident, there are serendipitous errors that make birdwatching a passion. To that point, enjoy reports of Nearctic waterfowl and a Eurasian raptor in the Bahamas, neotropical migrants, some endangered species exiting the Bahamas, and some immigration of regional species to the Bahamas. Sparrows made the vagrant list in a couple of locations, including a Jamaican first record. The Bahamas highlights include a nearly month-long stay by a Black Kite at Great Inagua and continuing residency of Double-striped Thick-knee; and Exuma’s winter resident Kirtland’s Warbler.

Contributors (subregional editors boldface): Rafael Adams, Kitty Aponte, Gloria Archilla, Karen Barrow, Erick Bermudez (EBe), Laurent Bouveret, Elwood Bracey (Bahamas), Harold Brewer, Randolph “Casper” Burrows, Greg Butcher, Airamzul Cabral, Martha Cartwright, Antoine Chabrolle, Linda Craiger, Sean Christensen, Jill Cooper, Claudia Valenzuela Cuevas, Peter Davey, Bridget Davis, Judith Dawkins, Frantz Delcroix, Christina Del Vescovo, Benny Diaz, Andrew Dobson, Fiona Dobson, Alexis Duncombe (ADu), Graham Ekins, David Ewert, John Fitzpatrick, Lawrence Gardella, Erika Gates, Airamzul Cabral Guadalupe, Daphne Gemmill, James Goetz, Michael J Good, Sadhu Govardhan, Charmaine Hall (Cha), Charles Hall, Percivan Hanley, Erich Hetzel, Scott Hierbaum, Rich Hoyer, Hida Ingraham, Alvaro Jaramillo, William Jaume, Marsha Johnson, Clifford Jones, Vikki Jones, Delores Kellman, Mike Knowles, Richard Lee, Anthony Levesque, Tarra Lindo, Pat Lueders, Jeremy Madeiros, Pericles A. Maillis, Eddie B. Massiah, Ricardo Miller, Steven Mlodinow, Julian Moore (JMo), Neal Morris, Duane Morse, Vivian F. Moultrie, Warren Parker, Nelly Pelisson, Robert Purrington, Pablo A Roman, Pedro Santana, Jose Salgado, Jose Salguero (JSa), Sergi-Jordi Salguero. Alfred Schaller, Jo Smith, Alejandro Llanes Sosa (ALS), Gabriel Y. Soto, Jane Stavert, Brian Sullivan, Denny Swaby, Brian Vigorito, Paul Watson, Jim Watt (JWa), John Webster, Daniel Weeks, Kevin Winter, Max Witynski.

Waterfowl through Egrets

Three Fulvous Whistling-Duck were seen (ph.) on 11 Apr (RA) at Central Eleuthera, Bahamas. Two Snow Geese remained at Port Royal GC, Bermuda to 22 Mar (AD). Two Greater White-fronted Geese were reported on 2 Mar (MK) and again (ph.) on 5 Mar (MJ, AS) at Reef GC, Freeport, Grand Bahama, and another Greater White-fronted Goose was found 8 Mar (CJ, VJ) at Exuma and Black Point, Great Exuma Island. Two weeks later, the same two Greater White-fronted Geese were photographed on 22 Mar (HB) at Sandals GC Black Point, Great Exuma Island that appeared to be adults of either the Tundra or Greenland race. Single Brant were still present at Port Royal GC, Bermuda on 7 Apr (AD) and at Shelly Bay Park, Bermuda on 10 Apr (NM). A Gadwall was found on 7 Mar (CD) at Gerace Research Center, San Salvador/Rum Cay, Bahamas. A male Gadwall was a surprise arrival at Spittal Pond, Bermuda on 23 May (PW). A Eurasian Teal was at Spittal Pond, Bermuda 1–22 Mar (AD, FD). A long-staying Hooded Merganser was noticed again on 11 Mar (SC) at Camp Mahanaim, Sud, Haiti. A Common Merganser remained at Port Royal GC, Bermuda to 5 Apr (RL). A Ruddy Duck remained at Spittal Pond, Bermuda to 31 Mar (AD). An American Flamingo was seen on 17 Mar (JWa) at Couples San Souci, Saint Ann, Jamaica while it, or another, was noted on 26 Mar (RM) at Fisherman’s Inn, Trelawny. An American Flamingo remained at Chancery Lane Swamp, Christ Church, Barbados from 23 Feb–25 Apr (JW). JMo reported an influx of more than 10 White-crowned Pigeons in Barbados between 8–24 Mar. The first record for the island was in 2014, so might they remain to breed? A Chuck-will’s-widow was seen on 22 Mar (GE) which burst out of coverage at Bay View Eco-Resort, Portland, Jamaica. The first report of the season of Antillean Nighthawk was on 2 Apr at Patrick’s Island Lake, George Town, Grand Cayman (PD). Eight Antillean Nighthawk seen on 28 Apr (MC, DK, BD) marked the return at Garden of the Groves, Freeport, Bahamas. A Common Nighthawk on 23 Apr (PD) at Patrick’s Island Lake, George Town, Grand Cayman came in 10 minutes after five Antilleans. It flew lower and silently, and was paler below, with longer primaries, which from certain angles, give the impression that the tips of the wings are flicked upwards. The first Chimney Swift of the year at Grand Cayman was seen on 3 Mar (PD) at South Sound Road, George Town. A Ruby-throated Hummingbird was seen on 1 Mar (EB) at a backyard in Treasure Cay, Central Abaco, Bahamas. A Sandhill Crane was seen (ph.) on 4 Mar (EB) at Bootle Highway Church, North Abaco and Grand Cay, Bahamas. A Double-striped Thick-knee, a recent breeding resident from Hispaniola, was found (ph.) on 30 Mar (RCB) at Cooter Road, Inagua. A South Polar Skua was photographed at Challenger Banks, Bermuda on 20 May (KW). The leg band showed it had been banded 30 Jan 2017 as a non-breeding bird on Fildes Peninsula, King George Island, Antarctica.

Six Bonaparte’s Gulls reported on 13 Mar (EG, MC)) were at the Reef GC, Freeport, West Grand Bahama. An influx of Bonaparte’s Gulls in March saw an unprecedented 29 birds at Spittal Pond, Bermuda on 17 Mar (AD, EH, JS) with additional birds at various locations. On St. Kitts, two Bonaparte’s Gulls were seen on 8 Mar and a Black-headed Gull from 4–12 Mar (SM PH). A second year Glaucous Gull remained in St Georges Harbor, Bermuda from 10–31 Mar (PW) with another sighting near Penhurst Park, Bermuda on 12 Mar (NM). The first migrant Common Tern was seen on Ferry Reach, Bermuda on 25 Mar (AD). A Royal Tern was at The Causeway, Bermuda on 11 May (PW). A Pacific Golden Plover remained at St. Philip, Barbados until at least 5 May (JMo). Five Piping Plovers were noted (ph.) on 7 Apr (BD, JC, JD, HI, ADu) at Barbary Beach, Freeport, Grand Bahama. Common Terns seen sporadically along the resort coast of La Altagracia, Dominican Republic on 26 Apr (CC) at Bayahibe, and on 25 May at Bavaro Princess Resort (LC) which begs the question if they were still migrating or whether they are nesting with congeners. A Wilson’s Storm-Petrel was seen (PM) dancing on the surface near twilight on 12 May, 3 miles south of western New Providence along ‘The Drop’. The seawatch sessions at Pointe des Châteaux, Guadeloupe were productive as always, with Manx Shearwater, Arctic Tern, Parasitic Jaeger, Pomarine Jaeger all recorded—and notably 22 Long-tailed Jaegers on 21–22 Apr (FD); and a South Polar Skua on 15 May (AL, EBM). The Bermuda Petrel (Cahow) breeding season promises to be another record-breaking year with about 70 hatchings confirmed in Bermuda (JM). A Brown Booby was seen from a cruise ship within sight of Bermuda on 15 Apr (BV). A mixed grouping of all three Sula species was seen following a cruise ship off La Altagracia, Dominican Republic on 20 Apr (WP) with 12 Masked, two Brown, and one Red-footed at different intervals. The highlight of a sea-watch at Pointe des Châteaux, Guadeloupe on 25 Mar was a Northern Gannet (FD). A Neotropic Cormorant was photographed 7 Apr (EG) at Garden of the Groves, Freeport, Grand Bahama. EG noted white lined gular forming a sharp point, and no feathers on its lores. A Gray Heron remained at Congo Road Private Impoundment, Barbados until at least 30 Mar (JW). A report including photographs of four Little Egret on 4 Apr (JS) at La Boca, Barceloneta, Puerto Rico implies this pioneering Eurasian egret is breeding in the Greater Antilles. JS comments one was flying, the other adult and two juveniles were on shore. A Eurasian Spoonbill remained at various Barbados locations to 27 May (JW).

Vultures through Dickcissle

A Black Vulture was seen on 13 Apr (MC) at Freeport Pine Ridge Landfill, Grand Bahama. MC described the underside silvery wing tips. Single Swallow-tailed Kites were reported on 22 Mar (CHa) at Poplar Crescent, Freeport, Grand Bahama and over Prospect, Bermuda on 3 May (PW). A Sharp-shinned Hawk was seen well on 4 Mar (JW) chasing an Olive-throated Parakeet at Couples San Souci, Saint Ann, Jamaica. A Black Kite at Matthew Town, Great Inagua, Bahamas from 2–23 May (TL) was an extraordinary find and well photographed (RCB, VM, EB, TL). EB noted it was eating a dead cat and possibly other carrion which could explain why or how it remained at this location for nearly a month. Black Kites typically winter in Northwestern Africa. Since this observation is in the last month of spring migration in the tropical western Atlantic, one wonders from where it had been moving north before it reaches its Eurasian breeding range. A Broad-winged Hawk was a surprise on Barbados at Graeme Hall Swamp on 24 Mar (JW). An Eastern Phoebe was a good find at Seymour’s Pond, Bermuda from 27–28 Mar (DW). A Western Kingbird was photographed on 21 Apr at the Cayo Coco sewage ponds, Ciego de Ávila, Cuba (AJ). Another Western Kingbird was seen on 25 Apr (RP) at Luquillo Beach, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. A Black-whiskered Vireo was banded at Ferry Point, Bermuda on 29 Mar (PW) for only the 6th record in Bermuda. A Fish Crow was seen vocalizing on 21 Mar (EG, GB) at Garden of the Groves, Freeport, Grand Bahama with great views, making short, slightly nasal quiet sounds typical of Fish Crow. This or another Fish Crow was reported on 20 Apr (MC) at Martha’s Yard, Fortune Bay, Freeport, Grand Bahama where it was heard along the shoreline, then seen over the palm trees being chased by a smaller bird. A pair of Cuban Martin were photographed on 5 May (PR) at Laguna Cartegena, West End, Lajas, Puerto Rico—an unusual occurrence of a Cuban Progne sp. this far east of its breeding area. Golden Swallow is a critically endangered endemic now found only on the Haitian-Dominican border. Its status has been carefully monitored by James Goetz.

Table 1. Spring Survey of Golden Swallow, Haiti.



Location in Haiti


1 Apr


SE PNLV Berak Jonas, Ouest


1 Apr


SE PNLV Ti Bokan 3.8km S (between

Ti Miska & marker #89) 3.8km, Ouest.


1 Apr


SE PNLV Tèt Kay Jak anba. 3.5km, Ouest.


Cruise ship birding is reported more frequently primarily for seabirds, but occasionally land birds such as a House Wren on 1 Mar get our attention. It was found in vegetation on Central Park Deck en route to West Bay, Grand Cayman, possibly boarded at Ft. Lauderdale (CH). A Brown Thrasher departed a cruise ship in Bermuda on 18 Apr (LG). A well described Veery on 30 Apr (ALS) found in Havana, Cuba, is not a common transient there. A Gray-cheeked Thrush was also noted (ALS) on 30 Apr in Havana, Cuba. The endangered, endemic La Selle Thrush was seen (JG) on 14 Apr at Berak St Pierre, Gabriel east, Ouest, Haiti. A Bicknell’s Thrush, primarily a winter resident at Hispaniola, was seen on 12 Mar (SG) at Harvest for Humanity Orphanage, Ouest, Haiti. At Puerto Rico, there have been multiple observations of Bicknell’s Thrush on 2, 7 Mar (SS, JSa) at Yunque, Río Grande and Ruta Orocovis (PS, JSa), respectively. A Wood Thrush seen (ph.) on 20 Apr (AJ) was found on the north coast at Cayo Coco, Cueva del Jabali, Ciego de Ávila, Cuba. A Cedar Waxwing was photographed on 6 Mar (WJ) while on the road from Port Antonio to Hectors River, Portland, Jamaica. At West Bay, Grand Cayman Island, a Cedar Waxwing was seen on 31 Mar (SH). Two Cedar Waxwings on 5 Apr were seen (MG) at Las Terrazas, Artemisa, Cuba. House Sparrow sightings are very rare for Barbados, so 12 seen on 8 Mar at Sunbury Plantation House, St. Philip was most unusual (BS, JF m. ob.). Two American Pipits were observed (ph.) on 3 Mar (MJ) at West End, Freeport, Grand Bahama. A Grasshopper Sparrow along the roadside on 5 Apr (MW) at Mid Cat Island, Bahamas was a surprise find. MW noted a small creamy brown Ammodramus with clear breast and thick dark streaks on mantle, crown stripes, and finely-patterned nape. A Savannah Sparrow reported (ph.) on 11 Apr (KB, RH, DM, JS) at Elim Pools, Saint Elizabeth, Jamaica was a first Jamaican record. It flushed from roadside in front of their car and provided very good views for everyone. A returning Tawny-shouldered Blackbird was seen (ph, DS) on 30 Mar at Kirk Supermarket, Eastern Ave, George Town, Cayman Island—also known locally as the stakeout for the Tawny-shouldered Blackbird. A Great-tailed Grackle was reported on 6 Mar (GS) at Puerto Arecibo, Arecibo, Puerto Rico and found there again on 17 Apr (BD). About the same date, a flock of 12 Great-tailed Grackle was reported on 7 Mar (RH) at Portmore, Saint Catherine, Jamaica. Two weeks later, four Great-tailed Grackle were seen (ph.) on 21 Mar (RM) at Greater Portmore Sewage Ponds, Saint Catherine, Jamaica. This Central American Quiscalus is apparently on an eastward movement into the Greater Antilles, although the causes are unclear. Two Kirtland’s Warblers, an endangered species, were found on 15 and 16 Mar (DE) at Maderia Road and Mingo Road, respectively, while two more were located at Rock Sound Commonage land on 16 Mar at South Eleuthera, Bahamas. CW found three Kirtland’s Warblers on 22 Mar at Rock Sound, South Eleuthera. Four more Kirtland’s Warblers were reported on 24 Mar (MW) at Ebenezer’s Church Road, Cat Island while surveying for this endangered species for SMBC field work. A Nashville Warbler found at Ciego de Ávila, Cuba was good find on 15 Mar (PL). A Cape May Warbler at La Désirade, Guadelupe was a good observation on 14 May, FD, EBM, AC). On 8 May, a lingering first year Northern Parula Warbler was considered late (DG) at Vieques, Puerto Rico. A Scarlet Tanager (ph.) ebird.org/pr/checklist/S44963638 (AG, EBe) on 14 Apr was the first record for the province of Vieques and is a very rare spring and fall passage migrant elsewhere in Puerto Rico. Scarlet Tanager is the rarest tanager in the Lesser Antilles—one male appeared in a garden at Port-Louis, Guadeloupe on 27 May (NP, LB). A Dickcissel was photographed foraging with a group of House Sparrows on 2 Mar (KA, GA) at La Parguera, Lajas, Puerto Rico. A Dickcissel was on St Georges GC, Bermuda on 30 Mar (PW). A Dickcissel was also a rare find (ph,) on 25 Apr (PD) at Northside football pitch, North Side, Grand Cayman.

Photos–West Indies & Bermuda: Spring 2018

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