09 April 2009

Bahamas Day Two

After a great Day One of birding we were all set for our first and only full day's worth of birding on Grand Bahama. We started the morning by heading to the Garden of the Groves. The garden doesn't open until 10AM so we birded the parking lot for nearly an hour. We quickly picked up a lifer right out of our little red rental car. A very nice Red-legged Thrush gave us great looks only a few feet away.

This is the best Red-legged Thrush photo of the trip. The killer red eye is hidden behind the palm frond but you see the namesake red legs.

After snagging our lifer thrush and promptly thereafter our lifer Cuban Emerald (a gorgeous green hummer). We made our way to the abandoned Shannon Golf Course. It was a little tricky finding a path into the golf course area but we found something that resembled a path and made our way in. To say this place is overgrown is an understatement. Really if you didn't tell me this was once a golf course I would never believe you but there are still a few areas that are open enough to bird. We didn't go very far along the paved path but the birding was spectacular.

The photos below and above show you a small area of brushy undergrowth where a cotton plant was thriving. This scene served us well. From this one vantage point we saw a Mangrove Cuckoo, lots of White-crowned Pigeons, and some great warblers like Worm-eating, Common Yellowthroat, and Northern Parula. Plus the cotton was being looted by the Cuban Emeralds for nesting material. It really was a highlight of the trip standing in this one overgrown area.

Anxious to keep birding we left the Garden of the Groves are and headed out to West End. We didn't have much luck at the development site described in Tony White's birding book. The place has been really developed and leveled down to flat land down there but the scenery out to West End was beautiful. We stopped to check our the conchs lining the shore and even had some guys wave us over to see the Barricuda they were chopping up that morning.

The above photo was taken by Kim Cressman.

We picked up a few new birds for our Bahamas list like Herring Gull, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, and a Belted Kingfisher from this spot. On our way back from West End we stopped at another cave area near a night club called Fern Gully & Josey Cave. After a short spin around the loop we found a few more migrants including an Indigo Bunting.

Once back in Freeport we went on a mission for lunch but coffee was first. In the process of rolling down the electric window it somehow slipped off the track and wouldn't roll up. We went back to the rental office and unfortunately when I closed the door the window broke into pieces inside the door. This would come back to haunt us before we left. But for the time being, nothing but time was lost and we were upgraded to a nice little blue car.

After a nice quick lunch and some required shopping we made our way to Emlin's Tract near Lucaya. In the past this was a good spot for Brown-headed Nuthatch but we wouldn't find any during our trip. Instead we did have a very frisky pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers approach us. This pair was VERY vocal and basically came as close as possible to us with a scolding call. I snapped a few photos and then moved away to prevent the birds any more stress.

Some believe the Bahama subspecies of Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Polioptila caerulea caesiogaster, should be elevated to full species status. It's call is very different and the size seems larger as well.

We then proceeded on a little goose chase for a trail that somehow must have disappeared in the last 10 years since Tony White's book was published. We made amends by having drinks instead at our favorite little bar, Bikini Bottoms, and having some fun on the beach.

Photo taken by Kim Cressman.

Photo taken by Andy Lantz.

The day was far from over but you'll have to come back later to hear about our cute bed and breakfast, our yard birds, and the last day, where a few more Bahamaian specialty birds came into play at the last minute.


kim said...

For some reason, I didn't life semipalmated sandpiper in Tallahassee - so that red-legged thrush was my 300th lifer, not the cuban emerald. I'm enjoying reliving the trip through your posts. :)

cruise deals said...

Amazing! a great place to be, even to stay :) I visited there during my cruise to the Caribbean and almost stayed there for good :)