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Annual Bird Reports

Andrew Dobson

Bird Report January to April 2016

The highlights of the season included: a second Western Marsh Harrier, a Black Skimmer, and two Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in January.

The long-staying West Indian Whistling-Duck remained at Port Royal GC 1 Dec-9 Apr+ (AD). A Canada Goose arrived at Spittal Pond 21 Mar (AD). A Eurasian Teal was seen at various locations in Bermuda 10-24 Jan (DG). The first Cahow hatching of the year was confirmed on Nonsuch Island 26 Feb (JM). A probable Trindade Petrel was seen off Cooper’s Point 12 Apr (PW). Manx Shearwaters were passing Cooper’s Point at about 90 per hour Apr 1 (PW). The imm. Masked Booby remained at Dockyard 1 Dec-23 Mar (PW). Wintering Glossy Ibis increased to at least 7 individuals with six together in Paget 21 Mar (AD, DG). A Swallow-tailed Kite was seen over Stock’s Harbour 19 Mar (PW) and in the Port Royal area 14-23 Apr (AD, IP). Bermuda’s first Western Marsh Harrier present 20 Dec 2015 to 22 Apr was photographed with a second bird at Hungry Bay 18 Apr (DG). There was another late winter arrival of Purple Gallinules with sightings at Jubilee Road 24 Jan (PW), Pitman’s Pond 1-23 Feb (DBW) and Paget Marsh (two birds) 10-20 Feb (GB). A Black-necked Stilt was seen on Mid-Ocean GC 6 Apr (PW). A Ruff was at Spittal Pond 10-12 Mar (AD). An early Common Tern appeared at Dockyard 19 Mar (PW). A Black Skimmer was at Cooper’s Point 14-20 Feb (DBW). Two Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were discovered at Crystal Caves 31 Jan and another on the same day at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (AD, E&JH). Single Yellow-throated Vireos were discovered at Crystal Caves and the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (AD, E&JH). The first Purple Martin of the spring was seen over Pembroke Dump 23 Feb (IF, PW). Snow Bunting were at Morgan’s Point 21 Dec-23 Jan with maximum count of 12 birds 26 Jan (IP). Twenty-six species of wood warbler were seen during the winter season including a Swainson’s Warbler at Botanical Gardens 9 Jan (AD), Wilson’s Warbler at Crystal Caves 31 Jan (PW) and Yellow-breasted Chat in Jenningsland 3 Apr (JM). A Swamp Sparrow was photographed on Morgan’s Point 17 Jan (AD, JM).

Observers: Geoff Bell, Andrew Dobson, Ian Fisher, Derek Gibbons, Erich & Janice Hetzel, Jeremy Madeiros, Ingela Persson, Paul Watson, David Wingate.

Bird Report May to July 2016

Highlights include the first breeding attempt by a Leach’s Storm-Petrel, Bermuda’s second Western Marsh Harrier and third Cave Swallow.

The long-staying West Indian Whistling-Duck was last seen at Port Royal GC 13 May (DG). A Gadwall was a rare summer record at Spittal Pond 13 June (AD, PW). A record 115 pairs of Bermuda Petrel (Cahow) raised 56 successfully fledging young in 2016 (JM). The peak Great Shearwater passage at Cooper’s Point 28 May saw 300+ per hour (AD, PW). A Leach’s Storm-Petrel came into a recently vacated Cahow burrow fitted with webcam on Nonsuch Is. 6 Jun. This is the first known occasion that a Leach's has prospected a nesting burrow in Bermuda. The bird was still visiting the burrow in July (JM). A Band-rumped Petrel was seen 65 miles west of Bermuda 14 May (PW). An imm. Brown Pelican (above) was seen at various locations 2-16 Jul (MV, CL). A Northern Harrier was still present near Hinson’s Is. 8 May (EH). A maximum 5 Black-necked Stilts were present at North Pond 1-9 June (AD). A Ruff on Mid-Ocean GC 22 Apr may have been the same bird at East End Dairy 27 Apr-1 May (PW). A Wilson’s Phalarope was a Spittal Pond 9 June (AD). A Great Skua passed Cooper’s Point 28 May (PW). Single South Polar Skuas were seen 81 and 108 miles west of Bermuda 14 May (EH, PW). A Gull-billed Tern was at Spittal Pond 9-12 May and another at the Airport 25 Jun-11 Jul (PW). A Roseate Tern was in the Great Sound 5-10 May (DBW). Common Nighthawks are unusual in spring, so 4 at East End Dairy 9-10 May were notable (PW). Record numbers of Cliff Swallows appeared in Aug with a maximum flock of 40 at Spittal Pond 12 Aug (IP, WF). Bermuda’s third record of Cave Swallow (above) was at East End Dairy 10-11 May (PW). A late Louisiana Waterthrush was at BIOS 10-18 May and another provided the first returning fall warbler at Compston’s Pond 31 Jul-2 Aug (PW). A male American Redstart was seen in Jenningsland 10 July (LM), the first July record. A Blackburnian Warbler (right) was at Spittal Pond 9-10 May (AD). Spring Bobolinks are always scarce but at least 7 were seen at various locations 7-15 May (AD).

Observers: Geoff Bell, Andrew Dobson, Wendy Frith, Derek Gibbons, Erich & Janice Hetzel, Chris Loscalzo, Jeremy Madeiros, Leila Madeiros, Ingela Persson, Marianne Vahey, Paul Watson, David Wingate.

Bird Report August to November 2016

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.

An imm. Brant was discovered at Cloverdale Pond 11 Nov (TW) but did not appear healthy and died 26 Nov. A Hooded Merganser at Port Royal GC 6-7 Aug was very unusual (AD). November wildfowl arrivals included two Bufflehead at Coney Is. 12 Nov (NM), two Common Goldeneye at Mangrove Lake 29 Nov (PW) and two Red-breasted Merganser at Mangrove Lake 14-30 Nov+ (PW). A Double-crested Cormorant in Mangrove Lake 8 Aug was the earliest fall record (MM). Spittal Pond hosted the earliest fall record of Least Bittern 8-15 Aug (PW). A Grey-headed Swamphen at Somerset Long Bay 25 Oct-19 Nov (TW) was the first record for Bermuda. Two likely sightings of a Sandhill Crane were made over Pembroke Marsh 29 Oct (JN) and Stocks Harbour 31 Oct (PA). A Hudsonian Godwit was at Spittal Pond 26-28 Aug (PW). A Red Knot was at Devonshire Marsh 11- 26 Oct (PW). A Ruff was on Port Royal GC 17 Sept (AD). A Baird’s Sandpiper was discovered at the Airport 25-27 Aug (PW) and another at Port Royal GC 4-5 Sept (AD). A flock of 5 Buff-breasted Sandpipers was on Port Royal GC 6 Sep (AD). Following the passing of T.S. Karl, about 500 Pectoral Sandpipers were counted at the Airport 24 Sept (PW, AD). A Long-billed Dowitcher was well observed at Devonshire Marsh 1-6 Nov (PW, AD). A Wilson’s Phalarope was on Spittal Pond 6-8 Oct (AD). Two Red Phalarope were found alive but unable to fly at Warwick Long Bay 20 Nov (DC) and Glebe Hill 21 Nov (PC) but died shortly after being taken to BAMZ. This season has been a very poor one for flycatchers. A Great Crested Flycatcher was on Nonsuch Is. 21 Nov (PF, KS, TJ). A Philadelphia Vireo was seen in the Arboretum 16 Oct (AD, E&JH). Record numbers of Cliff Swallows appeared in Aug with a maximum flock of 40 at Spittal Pond 12 Aug (IP, WF). Migrant thrushes were almost absent this fall. An American Robin was feeding at Fort Scaur 6 Nov (AD). Two Snow Bunting were discovered on Cooper’s Is. 20 Nov (AD, E&JH). A late Louisiana Waterthrush was at BIOS 10-18 May and another provided the first returning fall warbler at Compston’s Pond 31 Jul-2 Aug (PW). 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 (AD). A Dickcissel was at Fort Scaur 18 Oct (AD). A Rusty Blackbird, the first since 1975, was a surprise on Turtle Hill GC 25-26 Nov (AD). A Common Redpoll was seen at Coney Is. 23 Oct (NM).

Observers: Geoff Bell, Peggy Corrao, Dave Curnow, Andrew Dobson, Peter Flood, Erich & Janice Hetzel, Kate Sutherland, Tom Johnson, Jeremy Madeiros, Leila Madeiros, Miguel Mejias, Neal Morris, Jeane Nikolai, Ingela Persson, Paul Watson, Tim White, David Wingate.

Bird Report December 2016

Highlights of the month included: Bermuda’s first record of Common Eider and another Rusty Blackbird.

An adult Snow Goose discovered on Mid-Ocean GC 8 Dec (GB) then remained at Bermuda Airport to 10 Jan (AD). A female Common Eider, the first record for Bermuda was seen at Clearwater 19 Dec (AD, AMD, FD, KD) – see Vol.27 No.3. A Bermuda maxima four Ruddy Duck were on Mangrove Lake 7 Dec (AD). One Northern Gannet passed Cooper’s Point 19 Dec (AD, AMD, FD). A Least Bittern was at Pitman’s Pond 16 Dec (IP) and 31 Jan (DBW). Two Forster’s Terns were at Spanish Point 11 Dec-5 Jan (AD, EH). A Yellow-billed Cuckoo was at Pitman’s Pond 5 Dec (DBW). A Ruby-throated Hummingbird was in Jenningsland 19 Dec-19 Feb (JM, LM). A late Tree Swallow was over Ship’s Hill 9 Dec (PW). A Hermit Thrush was discovered in the Smiths Hills 17 Dec (JM). A  Swainson’s Warbler was on Hinson’s Is 18 Dec (EH, JH). A Dickcissel was photographed on Mid-Ocean GC, 6 Dec (NM). A Rusty Blackbird was seen at Jubilee Road 3 Dec (AD, EH) (perhaps the same bird see on Turtle Hill GC in November).

Observers: Geoff Bell, Andrew Dobson, Anna Dobson (AMD), Fiona Dobson, Katrina Dobson, Erich Hetzel, Janice Hetzel, Jeremy Madeiros, Leila Madeiros,, Neal Morris, Paul Watson, David Wingate.

Andrew Dobson

In conjunction with National Audubon in the US, the Bermuda Audubon Society held its 42nd CBC on 17th December 2016.

About 20 members of the Bermuda Audubon Society conducted the annual Christmas Bird Count. Additional species can be included during count week (3 days either side of count day). Highlight of the count was the discovery of an Eider Duck, the first ever sighting of this species in Bermuda. On the count day itself, 93 species were seen and over 8,000 individual birds recorded. This was exactly the same number of species seen in 2015. The most numerous species was the European Starling, which combined with the Great Kiskadee and House Sparrow, made up over 50 per cent of the birds seen. Other highlights this year included the occurrence of a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Snow Goose and Snow Bunting. A record 9 Glossy Ibis were seen and an impressive 19 species of wood warbler, including a record count of 57 Northern Parulas. The results are submitted to the National Audubon Society in the United States as part of a continent-wide study of birds that has been running for more than 100 years. Citizen science provides a way for people to connect with the natural world through activities that generate vital information for the conservation of birds. Count results are available on the National Audubon website, www.audubon.org/bird/cbc.

January to February 2015

Highlights in this period included: Bermuda’s first Razorbill, the first Redhead since1987, and first Canvasback since1979.

A female Eurasian Wigeon was at Devonshire Marsh 7 Nov to 27 Jan (AD). A Canvasback at Stokes Point NR 5 Dec to 3 Jan (DBW) was the first since 1979. A male Redhead discovered at Port Royal GC 21 Nov to 28 Feb+ (DBW) was the first since 1987. A Long-tailed Duck was seen in the Dockyard marina 22 Feb (PW). A wintering flock of Hooded Mergansers increased to 18 at Mangrove Lake 2 Jan (AD). A record eight Horned Grebes were present into February including 7 seen together at Somerset Long Bay (TW, AD et al.). A very early White-tailed Tropicbird was seen off Cooper’s Point 29 Jan (LT). A Magnificent Frigatebird was seen in various locations 28-31 Jan (PW). A Masked Booby was photographed 5 miles south of Bermuda 2 Feb (CS). A Northern Gannet flew past Spanish Point 2 Feb (RB, JF) and perhaps the same bird over the Causeway 22 Feb (PW). A Glossy Ibis at Somerset Long Bay remained to 28 Feb+ (AD). A very early Swallow-tailed Kite was seen over Warwick 28 Feb (FD, AD). Two Ruddy Turnstones at Tobacco Bay 3 Jan had green identification markers and were found to have been banded on New Jersey beaches on 13 May 2012 and 17 May 2012 respectively (AD, PW). Bermuda’s first Razorbill was discovered in the Great Sound 22-26 Feb (PW). An Iceland Gull was first noted in St. Georges Harbour 11 Feb (DBW). A Forster’s Tern was at Dockyard 27 Dec to 1 Jan (DBW). A Royal Tern was at Dockyard/Watford Bridge 28 Jan-22 Feb (DBW). This bird had been banded in North Carolina in July 2014. A Ruby-throated Hummingbird was at Camden Marsh 4-5 Jan (AD). Two or three Peregrine Falcons wintered with one found dead in Paget 16 Jan (LF). A Golden-crowned Kinglet was seen in the Arboretum 9 Jan (PW). A Hermit Thrush wintered at BIOS (PW). More than 20 species of warbler were recorded during the winter months. A Summer Tanager was at Ferry Point Park 1 Jan (PW).

Observers: Richard Brewer, Andrew Dobson, Fiona Dobson, Jenny Flood, Luke Fountain, Jeremy Madeiros, Ron Porter, Camilla Stringer, Lynn Thorne, Tim White, Paul Watson, David Wingate.

March to May 2015

Highlights included: Bermuda’s second confirmed Black-capped Petrel, a record spring arrival of Lesser Yellowlegs and a record flock of four Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.

There are few records of ‘Blue’ Snow Goose in Bermuda, so a flock of 7 seen at various locations 21 Mar-9 Apr (PW, AD) was exceptional. The wintering Redhead at Port Royal GC was last seen 22 Mar (AD). A Ruddy Duck arrived at Spittal Pond 22 Mar (AD, TW). A Common Loon was well observed in the Great Sound, 20 Mar (WF). Bermuda’s second confirmed Black-capped Petrel was photographed at Challenger Banks 22 Mar (CS). A 2hr 30 min sea-watch at Cooper’s Point 20 Apr was a lucky day for AD & PW with nine seabird species: Cory’s Shearwater (1), Manx Shearwater (39), Wilson’s Storm-Petrel (5), Leach’s Storm-Petrel (33), Storm-Petrel sp. (55), White-tailed Tropicbird (110), Arctic Tern (1), Pomarine Jaeger (4), Parasitic Jaeger (3), Long-tailed Jaeger (1), Jaeger sp. (11). A Magnificent Frigatebird was over St. Georges Harbour 9 May (J&K L). Northern Gannet has never been recorded in spring before, but one lingered in the Great Sound until 13 May (WF). A Swallow-tailed Kite was at various locations 28 Feb-14 Mar (FD). A spring Northern Harrier was on Hinson’s Island 28 Apr (E&JH) and Spittal Pond 29 Apr (AC). A Black-necked Stilt was on Mid-Ocean GC 17 May (GB). The first ever spring flock of Willet (9) was seen at Shelly Bay 29 Apr (JM). An unprecedented fall-out of Lesser Yellowlegs included a record 60 birds at various locations 30 Apr (AD, PW et al). A female Ruff was at Spittal Pond 17 May (AD). An Iceland Gull was last seen at Dockyard 11 Mar (AD). Four Ruby-throated Hummingbirds together on Wreck Road 28 Apr-1 May (DBW) was a Bermuda record count. A Black-whiskered Vireo at Ferry Point Park 9 May (NM) was the first since 1999. A Veery at Seymour’s Pond 3-7 May provided good views for many observers (RB). A flock of American Pipits (7) at Bermuda Airport 1-7 Apr (AD) was the first spring record. Rarely recorded in spring, a Summer Tanager was seen at Morgan’s Point 3 May (DBW, WF). A male Blackpoll Warbler was also seen at Morgan’s Point 3 May (AD).

Observers: Geoff Bell, Richard Brewer, Alison Copeland, Andrew Dobson, Fiona Dobson, Wendy Frith, Erich & Janice Hetzel, Jade & Keith Lovell, Jeremy Madeiros, Neal Morris, Ron Porter, Camilla Stringer, Tim White, Paul Watson, David Wingate.

June to July 2015

Highlights of the season included: the first record of Alpine Swift, a West Indian Whistling-Duck (last recorded in 1907), the first seasonal records of Hooded Merganser and White-throated Sparrow.

Bermuda’s second record of West Indian Whistling-Duck was discovered at Tobacco Bay 27 Jun (CS) and appeared at various locations to Jul 31+. The only previous record was in 1907. Two male Wood Ducks were present throughout the summer period at various locations (AD). An imm. Hooded Merganser discovered at Seymour’s Pond 14 Jun (AD) relocated to Port Royal GC to 31 Jul+ providing the first seasonal record for Bermuda. Cahows (Bermuda Petrels) had another successful breeding season despite losing 4 or 5 pairs during hurricane Gonzalo in October 2014. The total number of active breeding pairs producing an egg was 112, up from 108 the previous year. The total number of confirmed fledging chicks was 53, down from last season's record number of 59 (almost certainly caused by disruption and damage to nest burrows from Gonzalo (JM). A juv. Brown Pelican came aboard the Bermuda-bound RV Atlantic Explorer at 31 30' N and 064 24' W on 16 Jul and was almost certainly the same bird present 19-31 Jul+ at various Bermuda locations (LG et al). A Glossy Ibis was present at Somerset Long Bay 1 Jun-31 Jul+ (AD). Black-necked Stilts were present at various locations 6 Jun-31 Jul+ peaking at 5 on 7 Jul (AD). A Wilson’s Phalarope was at Spittal Pond 21 Jul (NA). Two South Polar Skuas passed Cooper’s Point 16 Jun (PW). An adult Roseate Tern was in the Great Sound 25-30 Jun (PW). The Common Tern population in Bermuda remains critically low. Three pairs successfully raised a total of 7 young. A further two female-female pairs both laid infertile 6-egg clutches (DBW). A Royal Tern was at Dockyard 25-28 Jun (PW). Bermuda’s first record of Alpine Swift was present at East End Dairy, Bermuda 7-9 Jun (PW). A White-throated Sparrow discovered at Ferry Point Park 18 Jun to 16 Jul (MM) provided the first Bermuda summer record.

 

August to December 2015

Highlights of the season included: Bermuda’s first Trindade Petrel, Bermuda’s first Western Marsh Harrier, the first Red-necked Phalarope for 21 years and the first fall record of Red Crossbill.

The long-staying West Indian Whistling-Duck relocated to Port Royal GC 18 Sep-31 Dec+ (AD). About 100 Blue-winged Teal were noted at various ponds 6 Oct, the day after Hurricane Joaquin (DBW). A wing-tagged Great Egret seen at various locations 10 Nov-18 Mar was banded as a chick on 30 June 2015 at Nottawasaga Island, Ontario, Canada. Bermuda’s first Trindade Petrel was seen flying with Bermuda Petrels and photographed off Cooper’s Point 13 Nov (BF, AW et al). An exhausted imm. Masked Booby was picked up from Watford Bridge, Bermuda 27 Nov and later released by into the wild (AD). An ad. Brown Booby was seen in Castle Harbour, 9 Oct (JM). A long-staying imm. Brown Pelican was still present in Mangrove Bay, Bermuda to at least 24 Oct (AD).  Bermuda’s first Western Marsh Harrier was discovered on Morgan’s Point 20-31 Dec+ (PW). Single Sharp-shinned Hawks were seen on Nonsuch Is. 9 Oct and Alton Hill 24 Oct (AD). A Black-necked Stilt remained at Spittal Pond until 18 Sep (NA). A Hudsonian Godwit was discovered on Port Royal GC 25-28 Oct (DB). A Ruff was at Port Royal GC 8 Sep (AD). A Baird’s Sandpiper was at Spittal Pond 5-11 Sep (AD). A Wilson’ Phalarope was at Outer Lea Farm 5 Oct (TW). The first Red-necked Phalarope since 1994 was photographed in Jews Bay 19 Sep (RB). A large tern flock in the Little Sound 14-15 Oct included Least (1), Black (2), Common (60), Forster’s (3), Sandwich (4).  A Royal Tern flew over Mid-Ocean GC 8 Sep (AD) while another was seen on a pelagic trip off the South Shore, Bermuda 14 Nov (AD, RF). A imm. male Ruby-throated Hummingbird was seen on Wreck Road 25 Sep (DBW). An influx of 15 Eastern Wood-Pewees was noted 9-27 Oct (AD et al). A Western Kingbird was on St. Georges GC 10-16 Oct (AD, PW) and another at Port Royal GC, Bermuda 1 Nov (AD). A Gray Kingbird was on Riddell’s Bay GC 8 Sep (PW). Six species of vireo were recorded during the season including a Blue-headed Vireo at Tudor Hill 26 Oct (AD). Two American Pipits were on Port Royal GC, Bermuda 8-20 Nov (AD). Thirty-five species of wood warbler have been recorded so during the season. There was a big fall of hundreds of Blackpoll Warblers 14-18 Oct (Mult obs). A Swamp Sparrow was seen on Coney Is. 25 Oct (NM). A Song Sparrow was seen at Ruth’s Point 27 Dec (PW). Perhaps an indication of a harsh winter in North America, up to five Red Crossbills on Nonsuch Is. 25 Oct was a real surprise (JM).

Observers: Niall Aitkin, David Bates, Geoff Bell, Richard Brewer, Andrew Dobson, Ian Fisher, Bob Flood, Derek Gibbons, Lisa Greene, Erich & Janice Hetzel, Jeremy Madeiros, Miguel Mejias, Neal Morris, Ingela Persson, Crista Smith, Paul Watson, Tim White, David Wingate.

Andrew Dobson

In conjunction with National Audubon in the US, the Bermuda Audubon Society held its 41st CBC on 27th December 2015. Features of this year’s count included:

- 8,068 individual birds were counted (up from last year)

- 93 species of birds (92 in 2014, 99 in 2013, 101 in 2012)

- 3 new records for count day: West Indian Whistling-Duck, Masked Booby and Western Marsh Harrier

- European Starling was the most common species (23% of the count)

Members of the Bermuda Audubon Society recorded three new count day species during the annual Christmas Bird Count. A long-staying West Indian Whistling-Duck (only the second ever seen in Bermuda) was recorded at Port Royal and a Masked Booby, rarely seen in inland waters was present at Dockyard. Most exciting of all was the occurrence of a Western Marsh Harrier which was seen by a team travelling by boat along the Southampton shoreline. This bird, the first ever seen in Bermuda was discovered by Paul Watson on December 20th and fortunately stayed to be included in the count. In total, over 8,000 birds were recorded of 93 species on the December 27 count day. Three additional species were seen during the count week. This year’s CBC compared favourably to last year when 92 species were recorded. The most numerous species was the starling, which combined with the kiskadee and sparrow, made up over 50 per cent of the birds seen. The continuing high temperatures along the eastern seaboard of the US may well have delayed the expected arrival of some wildfowl, finches and warblers. Other highlights this year included the recording of 19 species of wood warbler, with a record count of 57 Northern Parula. President of the Bermuda Audubon Society, Andrew Dobson said, “The results are submitted to the National Audubon Society in the United States as part of a continent-wide study of birds that has been running for more than 100 years. Citizen Science provides a way for people to connect with the natural world through activities that generate vital information for the conservation of birds”. Count results can be viewed on the National Audubon website, www.audubon.org/bird/cbc

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Acknowledgements:

Photos courtesy of Andrew Dobson, Paul Watson, Chris Burville, Ras Mykkal, Jennifer Gray, Rosalind Wingate, Rick Slaughter and others.

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