25 April 2009

Bahamas Day Three

It's taken me almost all month to finish up this three day journey to Grand Bahama but with life being busy and my laptop being stolen, things haven't been that easy around here. Nonetheless here is the last installation of our trip. For those of you still stopping by, thank you for your patience and I'm buying a new laptop next week so we should have more weekly posts in the future!

On our last day in the Bahamas we decided to drive out to the Owl Hole. The drive in is a little haphazard and you should check your car for clearance before making the trek. We didn't see any new birds but it was nice to watch Cuban Emeralds flying from top to top of the pines. I've never seen so many hummingbirds as we saw on Grand Bahama.

After Owl Hole we made our way to Rand Nature Center. We made the mistake of waiting to hit this spot until our last day. By far it was one of the most productive parts of our trip. Plus we got to correctly identify Poisonwood, which we were ALWAYS looking for at each trail. If you're not famaliar with the tree then just be warned that it can really damage your skin by touching any part of the plant.

Once on the Rand trail we immediately found our lifer Cuban Pewee. It was only a few feet away and luckily for us, we all saw it because it was the only one we would see on our trip. It's always nice when you get to really soak in a bird at close distance. We made our way to the old Flamingo compound which houses a nice little pond. A loop around the pond would offer us more Cuban Emeralds, Palm Warblers, catbirds, and another lifer, two female Black-faced Grassquits.

The trails of Rand Nature Center are also supposed to be good for seeing Red-tailed Hawk though we didn't spy one. This education Red-tailed gave us an eye and amazingly enough a LOT of birds were found surrounding its cage. We quickly located a Western Spindalis nearby and found a few more warblers for our day list.

We headed back towards the nature center where a beautiful singing male Black-faced Grassquit awaited us. And after we almost gave up the trails a Bahama Mockingbird came out in full view. It was really easy to distinguish from the multitude of Northern Mockingbirds we saw on this trip due to the lack of white wing patches and the presence of streaking on the flanks.

With just a couple of hours left we rushed back to Garden of Groves to try and pick up a Greater Antillean Bullfinch. We paid our fee and entered the park at the hottest part of the day with a pretty steady wind picking up. It seemed like a hopeless search. Not only could we not find the bullfinch but we couldn't find ANY birds. We finally came across a little bit of activity. Another Red-legged Thrush gave us great looks and then finally we saw an interesting bird fly across one of the ornamental ponds. It was our bullfinch and it was at eye level. We all released our frustrations out and soaked in the little male bird. It was the perfect ending to our trip. Of course we didn't know it but we had another adventure in store for us once back to our lodging.

What you may notice from the photos above and below is that we aren't on a cruise ship and we aren't doing any real birding. We were really looking forward to celebrating our birding trip on the way back, sitting on the cruise ship, drinking a few spirits, and casually looking for birds. But our ship gave us another fate. The engine decided to die and our plans were adverted to a flight option.

So we sat in the airport from 2PM until almost 7PM. Unfortunately the airport ran out of food so after our many rounds of beer we merely laid there exhuasted and hungry. Our last meal being early that morning before heading out. It wasn't quite the ending we hoped for but all in all, the birding was great, the company was amazing, and the travel was fun.


Amy said...

"I've never seen so many hummingbirds as we saw on Grand Bahama." I was pretty sure I wanted to go there, but this line definitely convinced me to put the Bahamas on my wishlist! Great report, what a fun adventure!

Anonymous said...

What a trip! Sounds like you had some great sightings. I can't get over how much the pineland habitat looks like South Florida. I've been to Grand Bahama, but didn't get out and around like you did. You chose the right time of year to go. It's not too hot, yet.
Thanks for sharing.