West Indies & Bermuda: Winter 2017–2018

Winter 2017–2018: 1 Dec–28 Feb

Robert L. Norton (Greater Antilles, Bahamas)

Andrew Dobson (Bermuda)

Anthony Levesque (Lesser Antilles)

Recommended citation:

Norton, R., A. Dobson, & A. Levesque. 2021. Winter 2017: West Indies & Bermuda. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-aeG> North American Birds.

Bermuda highlights of the season included: the first record of Northern Fulmar, two Brant, the sixth White-winged Scoter; and the biggest-ever arrival of Killdeer. The Bahamas also provided some highlights of vagrant corvids from Florida, a Black Vulture, some interesting reports of pelagics, and a Little Egret. From Puerto Rico, some exciting survey results indicates a more widespread wintering range for Bicknell’s Thrush. In the Lesser Antilles, there was a remarkable report of Pacific Golden-Plover and the second record of Eurasian Spoonbill from Barbados.

Contributors (sub-regional compilers in boldface): Jamie Adams, Peter Adhemar, Marisa Ahwai, Jerry Agosto, Kitty Aponte, Eva Bottelli, Elwood Bracey (Bahamas), Chris Burgess, Randolph “Casper” Burrows, Sarah Cardwell, Martha Cartwright, Sean Christensen, Alex Davidson (ADa), Bridget Davis, Joshua Davis, Benny Diaz, Andrew Dobson, Anna Dobson (AMD), Fiona Dobson, Alexis Duncombe (ADu), Bridget Dunningham, Paul Fisher, Fiona Foster, Erika Gates, Montello Gibson, Ron Giles, James Goetz, Nathaniel González, Lisa Greene, Mike Greenfelder, Charmaine Hall, Bert Harris, Charles Hesse, Erich Hetzel, Janice Hetzel, Alvaro Jaramillo, Christopher Johnson, Lyndon Johnson, Delores Kellman, Keith M Kemp, Katherine Knighton, Mike Knowles, Peter LaBelle, Marilyn Laing, Anthony Levesque, Gabriel Lugo-Ortíz, Jeremy Madeiros, Hna. Maldonado Soto, Erika Maldonado, Becky Marvil, Catherine McFadden, Julian & Jason Moore (JJM), Neal Morris, Ricardo Miller, Duncan Mullis, Kris Ohlenkamp, Sandra Ortiz, Mark Outerbridge, Reg Patterson, Guillermo Plaza, Bruce Purdy, Luis Ramos, William Rios-Maldonado, Andrew Rothman, Julio Salgado (Puerto Rico), Sergi-Jordi Salguero, Pedro Santana, Gabriel Y. Soto, Gustavo Torres, David Turner, Paul Watson, John Webster, Tim White, Sea Williams, David Wingate, Kevin Winter, Patti Wood (PWo), Laurie Yntema (LaY), Lisa Yntema (St. Croix).

Waterfowl through Grebes

A Fulvous Whistling-Duck was photographed at Ruta En Kayak-Jareales, Arecibo on 3 Feb (WR-M, NG). In Bermuda, two Snow Geese were present at Port Royal GC from 19 Dec–28 Feb+ (AD). Another at Stocks Harbor on 29 Dec (PA) moved to Spittal Pond on 30 Dec–16 Feb. Two dark morph Snow Geese were observed (ph.) a week apart on 11 and 18 Dec (MC, DM) at Reef GC, Freeport, Grand Bahama. A pair of Greater White-fronted Geese were reported from 13 Jan–26 Feb (DK, EG, MC, RG, ML, BD, m. ob.) at Reef GC, Freeport, Freeport and West Grand Bahama. One Brant was at Port Royal GC, Bermuda from 17 Nov–28 Feb+ (AD) with another at Shelly Bay Marsh, Bermuda on 28 Nov–28 Feb+ (LG). A male Cinnamon Teal “showing rich color, red orange eye, pale blue wing coverts, white underwing secondaries” was seen twice and photographed a week apart on 10 and 17 Dec (KMK, RP) at Bahama Palm Shores, South Abaco and Moore’s Island, Bahamas. A Cinnamon Teal was photographed on 15 Jan (BD, LR) at Laguna Cartagena, Lajas, Puerto Rico. Highlights amongst the 17 species of duck recorded this season in Bermuda included a Whitewinged Scoter at Port Royal GC from 8–10 Feb (AD), Black Scoter at Spittal Pond from 31 Dec–18 Jan (AD, AMD, FD), Common Merganser at Port Royal GC from 17 Nov–26 Feb (AD), and Ruddy Ducks at various locations from 6 Jan–28 Feb+ (AD, AMD, FD). A female Bufflehead was seen well on 6 Jan 2018 (JA) at Cayo Coco, Ciego de Ávila, Cuba. A pair of Lesser Scaup was reported on 31 Jan 2018 by (LY) and Feb 24 (LaY) at Krause Lagoon remnant (limited access), Saint Croix. A Hooded Merganser was seen on 27 Dec (SC) at Camp Mahanaim, Sud, Haiti. The second Hooded Merganser for Barbados was found at Christ Church on 28 Jan (JW) and stayed until 6 Feb. A Horned Grebe was in Harrington Sound, Bermuda from 9–21 Jan (PW).

Doves through Spoonbills

A rarely seen White-winged Dove was in a Devonshire garden, Bermuda from 29 Nov–6 Dec (EB). A Chuck-will’s-widow was found and photographed on 12 Jan (CH) in Blue Mountains NP, Starlight Chalet, Saint Andrew, Jamaica. Antillean Nighthawk was heard on 6 Dec (FF) at Webster’s, Smiths Cove, George Town, Grand Cayman. Two Antillean Nighthawk were carefully noted on 19 Jan (Joshua Davis) at Canal, Culebra, PR (18.302, -65.3), Culebra, Puerto Rico. Both Antillean and Common Nighthawk were reported on 24 Feb from Puerto Rico, two presumably late Antillean nighthawks were seen (HMS, EM) at Centro comercial Vega Alta, while a Common Nighthawk was reported (GYS) at Parque de los Proceres, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

An American Golden Plover was extremely unusual at Spittal Pond, Bermuda from 5–9 Dec (PW). The Pacific Golden Plover found in Barbados in May 2017 was accompanied by a second one on 25 Feb (JW) and they stayed together up to March. An unprecedented arrival of up to 1,000 Killdeer occurred in Bermuda 5–6 Jan as a result of Storm Grayson in the northeast US. A flock of about 500 birds was at the Airport on 6 Jan (AD) with individuals and small flocks scattered widely in Bermuda. A group of 35 Killdeers—a good number in the Lesser Antilles during the winter period—was observed on St Kitts and Nevis on 16 Jan (BD, SW). In Bermuda, single Western Sandpipers at Cooper’s Is. from 6–8 Jan (AD), Spittal Pond from 8 Jan–1 Feb (AD) and Outerlea Farm from 10–16 Jan (PW) were undoubtedly fallout from Storm Grayson. A Ruff stayed one day at Congo Road, Barbados on 3 Jan (JW). Single Long-billed Dowitchers were seen at Cooper’s Point, Bermuda on 6 Jan (AD) and Riddell’s Bay GC, Bermuda on 22 Jan (AD). An American Woodcock was a lucky find at the Arboretum, Bermuda on 13 Jan (PF). One Black-headed Gull was at various locations throughout the season with two together at Spittal Pond, Bermuda from 1 Jan–28 Feb+ (AD, PW). Two Parasitic Jaegers were seen on 16 Jan (KK) soaring over the docks in Falmouth at King Street, Trelawny, Jamaica. Five Lesser Black-backed Gulls were seen on 17 Dec (GL-O, GT) at Los Muelles, Cataño, Puerto Rico, while a Great Black-backed Gull was also noted (GT). A Sandwich Tern made an unseasonable appearance along the South Shore, Bermuda from 16–25 Dec (AD). A Forster’s Tern was reported on 12 Jan (GL-O) at Muelle Boca Morena, Mayagüez, Puerto Rico.

The first returning White-tailed Tropicbird in Bermuda was seen at Challenger Banks on 14 Jan (KW) and the first arrived along the coast at Port Royal GC on 9 Feb (CG). Bermuda’s first Northern Fulmar was photographed (CB) at Challenger Banks on 8 Jan (CB, KW). A Black-capped Petrel was reported on 31 Jan (MG) while sailing SW of Cayo Largo, Isla de la Juventud, Cuba. A Cory’s Shearwater was reported on 20 Jan (KO) off Bimini from a cruise ship from Cuba. “This bird was about the size of a RBGU with a longer slightly tapered tail, uppersides all gray (not black) with no white or obvious patterns, all white below with some of gray onto the sides of the neck”. Up to nine Manx Shearwaters were seen and photographed on 14 Feb from a boat in Exumas Sound, east of Highbourne, Exuma and Black Point at close range (BP). BP commented, “Two pairs and five singles, all flushed from water in front of boat. All but two flew a short way north or south and landed. After landing, the few I could see appeared to have their heads in the water looking for fish. Winds had been 20 knots from the east the previous 3 days. All showed white under tail.” A Northern Gannet seen and described in detail on 10 Dec (AJ) from waterfront, during strong 20+ knot winds after a major cold front at Hotel Comodoro, La Habana, Cuba. A Northern Gannet was found alive on Wreck Road, Bermuda on 8 Jan (ADa). It was taken to the BAMZ rehab facility but died overnight. A second adult was in St. Georges from 8–21 Jan (LG). A Double-crested Cormorant was photographed on 21 Jan (BD, LR) at Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. A Little Egret was reported from Green Turtle Cay Sand Spit, Hope Town. Central Abaco on 30 Dec (EB, MK) who noted the “greenish-gray lores on this egret.” The 2nd Eurasian Spoonbill for Barbados that arrived in Nov 2017 (JJM) remained through the winter season.

Vulture through Dickcissel

The sporadic appearance of a Black Vulture was reported from 1–3 Dec (DM, R”C”B) and photographed at Freeport Pine Ridge Landfill, Grand Bahama. A Sharp-shinned Hawk was seen (AR) on 21 Jan at Los Arroyos, Sud-Est, Haiti while another Sharp-shinned Hawk was noted (PL) on 20 Feb chasing prey at Jay’s Guest House, Saint Thomas, Jamaica. A Short-eared Owl was noted on 13 Dec (S-JS) at Quintas de Cupey, San Juan, Puerto Rico. A Peregrine Falcon was seen at various locations, Bermuda from 11 Jan–15 Feb (EH, JH).  A Philadelphia Vireo was a good find at Silver Hill Cottage, Saint Andrew, Jamaica on 12 Dec (RM, LJ, et al. reported weeks earlier). A Yellow-throated Vireo wintered in the Arboretum, Bermuda from 15 Dec–23 Feb (AD, AMD, and FD). Two Fish Crows were reported and photographed on 23 Dec (DM) at West End, Freeport, Grand Bahama, where “One was seen flying east and another on a boat further west a few minutes later.” Multiple observers reported (ph.) an American Crow on 6 Jan near Ginn GC, West End, Freeport, Grand Bahama (MG, CH, EG and ADu), Thinking it was a Fish Crow, they played that species call but was ignored, then American Crow tape. The bird became agitated and flew from perch towards the observers and circled once before landing on another perch further away!” Two Cuban Martins were seen on 10 Feb (S-JS) at Cataño, Puerto Rico, while another was noted on 15 Feb (JS) at Las Charcas Valdez, Arecibo, PR. A Cave Swallow ‘showing a distinct buff band around neck, and chestnut forehead and dark crown.” was confirmed via photograph on 5 Dec (MA) at Ragged Island, Ragged Island, Bahamas. A Gray Catbird was noted on 12 Feb (PWo) at Head of Barkers, Vidal Cay, West Bay, Grand Cayman. Another Gray Catbird was reported 17 Feb (DT) at Negril Royal Palm Reserve, Westmoreland, Jamaica. The threatened endemic La Selle Thrush was heard calling on 21 Jan (JG) at Kaskad, Ouest, Haiti.


Bicknell’s Thrush in the West Indies is primarily known for its winter haunts on Hispaniola. Apart from occasional birds straying from this major wintering area, sustained reports from Puerto Rico are, to say the least, important for this endangered thrush. To wit, three birds were noted on 16 Feb (GL-O) at Cerro Jayuya, Ponce, Puerto Rico, where one bird was seen and two were heard. On 17 Feb, two of the birds were heard (GT) at Km 18.9, Ponce. On 21 Feb four Bicknell’s Thrush were reported at Cerro Jayuya, where JS saw “one and heard three different birds herd calling responding to play back during point count” (PS). Investigations continued for a week when PS surveyed Cerro Punta, Jayuya on 23 Feb when one bird responded to playback during a point count.

A steady build up American Pipits increased from eight at Cooper’s Is., Bermuda on 6 Jan to 78 at Kindley Field on 5 Feb (PW). A Lincoln’s Sparrow was reported (ph.) on 28 Dec (CM) at Blue Mountains NP, near Mt Horeb Estate, Hardwar Gap, Saint Andrew, Jamaica. Another Lincoln’s Sparrow was found on 23 Feb (JS) at Cerro Punta, Jayuya, Puerto Rico. A Clay-colored Sparrow photographed on 29 Dec–5 Jan (KMK, CJ) was found and responded to taped calls at Big Bird Chicken Farm, Central Abaco, Hope Town and Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas. Three Clay-coloreds were photographed (BM) on 13 Jan at Garden of the Groves, Freeport, West Grand Bahama. A Grasshopper Sparrow was photographed on 5 Jan (BH) at Owenstown IBA, North Andros, Bahamas. A late Bobolink was at Bermuda Airport on 6 Dec (PW). Two Orchard Oriole (ph.) were present from 19–20 Jan (JA, GP) during a banding operation at Bosque de Jagueyes, Salinas, Puerto Rico. A Red-winged Blackbird was at Spittal Pond, Bermuda from 6–14 Jan (TW). A Brown-headed Cowbird appeared at Garden of Grand Bahama Birders B&B, Freeport, Grand Bahama on 20 Jan (EG). Three Brown-headed Cowbirds were at Outerlea Farm, Bermuda from 9–17 Jan (MO). A surprising find was a Great-tailed Grackle on 4 Jan (JS, KA, SO) at Puerto Arecibo, Puerto Rico, while another was reported on 16 Jan (CH) at Kingston Airport, Saint Andrew, Jamaica. Of 20 species of wood warbler recorded during the season in Bermuda, Tennessee Warbler was the most unexpected, seen at the Arboretum until 24 Feb (AD). A male Hooded Warbler was discovered at Monts Caraïbes, Guadeloupe on 2 Feb (AL). In Bermuda a record number of wintering Summer Tanagers (at least five) were seen at the Arboretum (two) from 9 Dec–28 Feb+ (AD), Ferry Point (two) from 2–27 Dec (PW), Coney Is. on 14 Jan (NM) and Warwick on 25 Jan (SC). A Dickcissel was seen (ph.) on 14 Jan (Gabriel Lugo-Ortíz) at town of La Parguera, Lajas, Puerto Rico.

Report processed by José R. Ramírez-Garofalo, 20 Mar 2021.

Photos–West Indies & Bermuda: Winter 2017–2018

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