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Bermuda June 2009 (1 Viewer)


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Bermuda Report June 22-24 2009

The following is a birding account of a recent family cruise to Bermuda from New Jersey USA. Bermuda is a very remote Atlantic Ocean island chain located on the eastern side of the warming Gulf Stream over 550 miles away from the nearest mainland of North Carolina USA. The island is 1000 miles north of the Caribbean Sea and the total landmass of Bermuda is extremely small at about 20 square miles. Nevertheless, Bermuda has it’s share of bird species, native and introduced in an odds’n’sods kinda way. It’s most famous bird is the re-discovered Bermuda Petrel once thought to be extinct for over 300 years but found breeding on an isolated Islet by native Bermudian Dr. David B. Wingate in 1951.

My goal was to make the most of our short visit to this charming island and target a few breeding species that I have never seen. As always, we booked a local birding guide which I highly recommend. The dynamic Duo of Kay and Ray Latter, who run Bermuda Byways , a personalized Bermuda tour company was our choice . http://www.bywaysbermuda.com/about.php Ray was our driver. He navigated the winding roads and odd intersections as Kay gave an in-depth narrative of the Island and it’s historic buildings and properties as we passed them. They were very hospitable and educational, and gave an added dimension to our birding trek across the countryside. They are also advanced birders and knew exactly where to take us for every target species. A recommended field guide for Bermuda is A Birdwatching Guide to Bermuda by Andrew Dobson which I purchased and studied before the trip.

Day 1 , June 22 -Island Birding

As our cruise liner neared Bermuda on June 22nd the boat circled in and approached the island from east to west to stay in the channel. The first view of land is St. George’s Island and as the boat passed just north of it’s shores I spotted my first Bermudian life bird. A graceful adult White-tailed Tropicbird along with a juvenile bird swooped and soared near the coastline, It was a far away view but I would get better looks later. Bermuda is the northernmost breeding island for White-tailed Tropicbird in the Atlantic and the are quite mesmerizing birds with their bold black wingmarks and elegant tail. I have hear of them being referred to Sea Parrots and I could see why but their local nickname is “Longtail” . They are the most impressive bird for me on Bermuda and I was looking forward to seeing them.

As our boat docked at King’s Wharf on the north- eastern corner of Bermuda Island I could see Rock Dove, Mourning Dove, European Starling, American Crow and the introduced but exciting black and yellow Greater Kiskadee from the cruise ship balcony. Kiskadees may be the most abundant species on the Island and are considered a pest. My wife and I took the Ferry to the main town of Hamilton for a stroll. Afterwards we cabbed to the lovely Bermuda Botanical Gardens from town and I found lifer Common Ground-Dove , along with Grey Catbird and plenty of Kiskadees around the grounds along with feral Roosters (Red Guinefowl). Once back at King’s Wharf I took one last look around and spotted one lone Laughing Gull , a pair of Ruddy Turnstone (which have recently begun breeding here) and a small group of Bermuda race Common Tern. At the exact time I was birding the wharf, across the bay the one and only Dr. David B. Wingate was birding the jetty across the bay . Although I did not recognize him , our guide Kate Latter confirmed this the next day and my father saw him as well from the boat ! Kate explained “he looks like Santa Claus on a motorcycle” – we theorized that he was checking up on the Bermuda Common Terns which are at critically low breeding numbers.

Day 2 -June 23 Island Birding

This was the much-anticipated half-day birding with Kate and Ray Latter. We woke up to a steady rain and began birding at 7:00 am as we were picked up at the boat by Kate and Ray in their minivan.
Our guides took us to all the local hot spots that started at the Wharf and ended in Hamilton , and then we took the Ferry back to the Wharf. This was a simple and effective plan that got us all of our target species. Our first major stop was Long Bay Nat. Park which yielded Great Blue Heron , Common Gallinule , and lifer Yellow-crowned Night Heron which acted like plovers as they occupied wet fields in small groups scattered throughout the roadsides. We hit the jackpot in the pouring rain at out next stop in Fort Scaur . A single European Goldfinch was calling and we soon found it and all of it’s beauty, sounding very much like our American Goldfinch but with a slightly Brit accent and coat. Our next find was the target White-eyed Vireo which is a non migratory Bermuda subspecies. Also at Ft. Scaur was the iconic American Cardinal , Great Egret , American Crow and White-Tailed Tropicbirds could be scoped far offshore. Our last big stop s also regarded as the best birding location in all of Bermuda: Spittal Pond. We took a small coffee break in the dry refuge of the van once we arrived as ray and Kay graciously supplied some food and drink. It was still pouring rain but we birded nonetheless. The wet weather brought with it a wonderful treat as the peeping of frogs continued throughout our travels any time we were in a wooded area. These sounds gave the trip a distinct Neotropical feel to the whole experience of birding Bermuda. As we started birding Spittal Pond we noticed large groups of feral chickens running about , Kate explained to us that Northern Bobwhite has also become a breeding resident in the area as well but we did not see any. Spittal Pond and did get us the best views of several White-tailed Tropicbirds as the played tag along the rocky coast at the edge of the preserve. We also found now familiar Bermuda breeders such as White-eyed Vireo, Common Ground-Dove ,Northern Cardinal as well as Mallard Duck and Muscovy Duck. I am quite certain without our gudes we would NOT have found most of our target species , we WOULD have gotten lost and we WOULD have been pretty uncomfortable day with all of the wet weather, so many thanks to them!

Day 3 –Cruising back to NJ
A note about the cruise home to New Jersey, I birded from our cruise balcony and came away with a bunch of views and photos. I found a pod of Porpoises as well as a few pelagic birds. The only identifiable bird was Cory's Shearwater. But I had been looking at either Greater or Manx Shearwater as well as a possible Brown Noddy. All birds were found as we passed thru the Gulf Stream about half way thru the trip.


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more Bermuda photos

some more shots


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Bermuda June 2009,


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Great report, Steve. Brought back memories for me. Visited Bermuda twice while in college, and then we spent our honeymoon there, more years ago than I'd like to admit. Didn't pay any attention to the birds.

Sounds like you made the best of so-so weather. Next time I see you, remind me to tell you about the great Bermuda kite-flying contest.

Take care,

Nice report Steve;lots of memories as I lived Bermuda for 3 years in the 90's.Amassed over 200 species in that time.Shows what a migration hot spot it is as if memory is correct there are only 12-14 resident breeding species.I'm surprised UK birders don't study whats been recorded there more in an attempt to work out what just MIGHT reach our shores!


I'm glad you all enjoyed the report, I am adding a decent Yellow-crowned Night Heron photo from the trip.


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I'm glad you all enjoyed the report, I am adding a decent Yellow-crowned Night Heron photo from the trip.

nice report ! Memories for me as I spent 3 years working there and saw over 200 species in that time,90%+ of which are migrants/vagrants!Did mange Cahow though,and David Wingate deserves some kind of Nobel prize for the work he has done with those birds!!

thanks again!!o:)
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