West Indies & Bermuda: Summer 2023

Summer 2023: 1 Jun–31 Jul

Andrew Dobson (Greater Antilles and Bermuda)

Anthony Levesque (Lesser Antilles)

Recommended citation:

Dobson, A. & A. Levesque. 2023. Summer 2023: West Indies & Bermuda. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-gBv> North American Birds.

The brief summer period rarely produces surprises, but 2023 provided some spectacular sightings. The spotlight was on Barbados where two Little Swifts were new for both Barbados and the Americas. The island recorded its first Mississippi Kite—also new for the Lesser Antilles, and its first Cayenne Tern. A Pied Water-Tyrant was a great find in Grenada, another regional first.  A White-faced Ibis provided the Bahamas with a new island record.

Waterfowl through Shorebirds

An American Wigeon and a Ring-necked Duck remained in the lagoon at La Playita Militar, Ciego de Ávila, Cuba to Jul 30+ (Nicolás Díaz)both species are winter residents or transient and would usually have returned to their breeding grounds in April or May. Very scarce in Cuba, two Black-billed Cuckoos were photographed at Hotel Marea Del Portillo–Barranca Honda, Granma 11 Jun (Ricel Polán Hernández). Thanks to Julian Moore always carrying a camera, a Little Swift Apus affinis was a sensational find at Cambridge, Barbados 3 Jun 2023 (Julian Moore, Jason Moore, Richard Mckay). Photographed over Ermy Bourn Highway, it proved to be the first record for the West Indies and for the Americas! Expert advice was sought, with House Swift A. nipalensis the likely confusion species— both species have a white rump and throat patch. Another sighting at Needham’s Point 24–25 Jun (David Hollie) was thought to be a second bird. American Coot is an occasional breeding bird in Bermuda and this year three pairs raised 2, 2, and 3 chicks respectively at the Airport Pond with confirmation on 6 Jul (Paul Watson, Eva Bottelli). One Black-necked Stiltalways an overshoot spring migrant in Bermudaremained at Port Royal GC until 16 Jun (Brendan O’Neil). A pair of American Oystercatchers had been observed acting in a territorial way in early June at West End, Grand Bahama. On Jun 25th, suspicions of possible breeding were confirmed when a chick was photographed (Martha Cartwright, Mark Milkovich)—a probable first breeding record for Grand Bahama. In Bermuda, there was Killdeer breeding success once again at the Airport, but of particular note were nest sites at three other locations around the island in June (Paul Watson). A Curlew Sandpiper was present at Congo Road, Barbados 14 Jun (John Webster, Charlene Pringle).

Skuas through Pelicans

A South Polar Skua passed Cooper’s Point, Bermuda 2 Jun (Paul Watson). One Lesser Black-backed Gull was at Pile Bay, Barbados 18 Jul (Julian Moore). A Brown Noddy was photographed at Sugar Bay, Hastings, Barbados 1215 Jul (Megan Muxlow); while another was at West Bay, Grand Cayman 17 Jul (Simone Williams). Three Black Noddy nests with chicks were confirmed at Baradal Island, Tobago Cays Marine Park in the Grenadines 20 Jun (3KCbirding Team)—a rare breeding record. A Least Tern passed Cooper’s Point, Bermuda 27 Jun (Paul Watson). A Gull-billed Tern was at Spittal Pond, Bermuda 25 Jun–1 Jul (Paul Watson). A Caspian Tern on Bimini, Bahamas 22 Jul was an unusual summer record (Leonard Santisteban). Single Black Terns were present at Inch Marlow, Christ Church, Barbados 2829 Jun (Nigel Lallsingh) and at Parottee Road, Saint Elizabeth, Jamaica 9 Jul (Paul Holmes). A flock of seven Roseate Terns was seen in the Great Sound, Bermuda 4 Jun, but there was no breeding success this year (Erich Hetzel, Joanne Smith). A Sandwich Tern was photographed at Spanish Point, Bermuda 2223 Jun (Eva Bottelli). Sandwich Terns are rare visitors to Barbados, but a “Cayenne” Sandwich Tern seen at Long Beach, Christ Church 6 Jun proved to be a first for the island (Michael St. John). A record 164 breeding pairs of Bermuda Petrels (Cahows) raised 76 chicks, slightly down from the record 78 fledglings in 2022 (Jeremy Madeiros). Sea watches off Pointe des Châteaux, Guadeloupe produced 70 Cory’s Shearwaters in 3 hours on 21 Jun (Edward Massiah) and 340 Great Shearwaters in 2 hours on 4 Jul (Anthony Levesque). An Audubon’s Shearwater was viewed passing Cooper’s Point Bermuda 24 Jun (Paul Watson). A Brown Booby was photographed around a cruise ship about 200 miles to the northwest of Bermuda 14 Jul (John Dreves). An American White Pelican was photographed at Lago Dos Bocas dam and spillway, Arecibo, Puerto Rico 1 Jun (Kevin Lapp); while another was at Falmouth Harbour, Antigua 17 Jun (John Keator).

Herons through Warblers

A Grey Heron was present at Spittal Pond, Bermuda 1–31 Jul+ (Andrea Webb)—the fifth record for Bermuda and the first since 2007. A White-faced Ibis photographed at Lyford Cay Golf Course, New Providence 15–23 Jun (Peter Kemp) became the first record for the Bahamas. An extremely unseasonal Merlin was seen perched at Fort Amsterdam, Sint Maarten 14 Jul (Kevin Sammy). A juvenile Mississippi Kite photographed over Fosters Private Wetland, St. Lucy, Barbados 20–22 Jul provided the Lesser Antilles with its first record (Michael St John). Long distance photos were obtained as the kite was seen flying over the pond and then observed for about an hour circling high up and making occasional dives. A series of photos can be seen at https://ebird.org/checklist/S145143081. A Pied Water-Tyrant at Telescope Mangrove Pond and Marshlands, Grenada 16 Jul provided the island and the region with its first record (Kenrith Carter)—the nearest breeding population is on Trinidad and Tobago. Seven White-winged Swallows (2 ads. and 5 juvs) were seen at the National Stadium, St George, Grenada 2 Jun (Kenrith Carter). A Louisiana Warbler, the first migrant fall warbler of the season in Bermuda, was seen at Spittal Pond 21 Jul (Paul Watson). Two Palm Warblers still present at La Désirade, Guadeloupe to 9 Jun were extremely unusual—one bird had been discovered 30 Apr with the other joining later in the season (Anthony Levesque).

Report processed by Andrew Keaveney, 27 Nov 2023.

Photos–West Indies & Bermuda: Summer 2023

A Little Swift was photographed over Ermy Bourn Highway, Cambridge, Barbados on 3 June 2023. A sensational find by Julian Moore—the first record for the Americas! Photo © Julian Moore

A second Little Swift at the Barbados Hilton Hotel from 25–26 June 2023 was thought to be a different bird from the one seen earlier in the month at Cambridge, Barbados. Photo © John Webster.

A Pied Water-Tyrant was a terrific find at Telescope Mangrove Pond and Marshlands, Grenada on 16 July, providing the island and the region with its first record of this species. Photographed here on 16 July 2023. Photo © Kenrith Carter.

A White-faced Ibis was present with Glossy and White Ibis at Lynford GC, New Providence, Bahamas 15–23 June—the first record for the Bahamas. Photographed here on 15 June 2023. Photo © Peter Kemp.

A series of photos taken by Michael St. John on 20 and 22 July 2023 at Foster’s Private Wetland, St. Lucy enabled Barbados to record its first Mississippi Kite. Photographed here on 20 July, it was also the first record for the Lesser Antilles. Photo © Michael St. John.

A “Cayenne” Sandwich Tern, the first for Barbados, was seen and photographed at Long Beach, Christ Church on 6 June 2023. Photo © Michael St. John.

A probable first breeding record of American Oystercatcher for Grand Bahama was provided by this photo of a chick at West End, Grand Bahama on 25 June 2023. Photo © Martha Cartwright.

With only four previous records and the first since 2007, a Gray Heron at Spittal Pond, Bermuda from 1-31 July was a welcome arrival. Photographed here on 16 July 2023. Photo © Miguel Mejias.

The sighting of seven Roseate Terns in the Great Sound, Bermuda on 4 June 2023 gave the promise of continued breeding success. Unfortunately, there would be no breeding this year. Photographed over Pearl Island, Bermuda on 4 June. Photo © Erich Hetzel.

A Black Tern was a good sighting at Inch Marlow, Christ Church, Barbados from 28–29 June. Photographed here on 29 June 2023. Photo © Michael St. John.