Friday, March 17, 2017

Arrowhead Warblers in Jamaica


Arrowhead Warbler, Ecclesdown Road, Jamaica, Mar 10, 2017
Arrowhead Warbler, Ecclesdown Road, Jamaica, Mar 10, 2017
Arrowhead Warbler, Blue Mountains NP, Jamaica, Mar 10, 2017
Arrowhead Warbler, Blue Mountains NP, Jamaica, Mar 10, 2017
Arrowhead Warbler, Ecclesdown Road, Jamaica, Mar 11, 2017
I just returned from a brief trip down to Jamaica between my days off from work between March 9-12. One of my main reasons for making a trip down to Jamaica was to catch up with the endemic Arrowhead Warbler which I was lucky enough to see on several occasions in both the Blue Mountains and along Ecclesdown Road near the John Crow Mountains.  As I had such a brief amount of time down on the island and wanted to maximize my chances of seeing not only the warbler but the other endemic species there I hired a guide and my choice of Ricardo Miller was a good one ( I figured having his company named after my main target was a good omen).  He not only got me on a number of Arrowhead Warblers but also managed to find me every other endemic on Jamaica (he can be contacted through his company at http://www.arrowheadbirding.com/).  I also managed to get a few photos of the species as it worked its way through the thick forest. It is a sharp looking black and white warbler, quite similar to the Elfin Woods Warbler (http://warblerpursuit.blogspot.com/2016/12/elfin-woods-warbler-and-adelaides.html which is endemic to Puerto Rico.  The Arrowhead Warbler became warbler species number 68 for me.
Cape May Warbler, Hope Gardens, Jamaica, Mar 11, 2017
Prairie Warbler, Warbler, Hope Gardens, Jamaica, Mar 11, 2017
Yellow throated Warbler and Northern Parulas, Hope Gardens, Jamaica, Mar 11, 2017
Besides the Arrowhead Warbler I managed to catch up with fourteen other warbler species, almost all of which will soon be heading north to breed. The only species I had a slight chance of seeing that I didn't have any luck locating was Swainson's Warbler, which winters in small numbers on Jamaica. It is a tough species to locate as it stays low in the forest and I was not surprised that I didn't see it.  I guess I will have to catch up with it at some point on its breeding grounds in the southern U.S.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Grand Bahama trip Feb 7-11 produces three new warbler species


Ovenbird, Garden of Grand Bahama Birders B&B, Grand Bahama, Feb 7, 2017
The second part of our recent vacation started with a ferry ride on Tuesday the 7th from Fort Lauderdale over to Freeport, Grand Bahama. My main targets for the trip over to Grand Bahama were the two endemic warbler species (Bahama Warbler and Bahama Yellowthoat) plus another near endemic warbler (Olive capped Warbler...also found on Cuba).  Sadly the two endemic warblers have not been reported since Hurricane Matthew devastated Grand Bahama back in October so I would really have my work cut out for me in finding them.  The first afternoon produced a number of warblers at our B&B including Palm Warbler, Northern Parula, American Redstart and a couple of very tame Ovenbirds.
Olive capped Warbler, Owl Hole Rd, Grand Bahama, Feb 8, 2017
Olive capped Warbler, Owl Hole Rd, Grand Bahama, Feb 8, 2017
Pine Warbler, Owl Hole Rd, Grand Bahama, Feb 8, 2017
Yellow throated Warbler, Owl Hole Rd, Grand Bahama, Feb 8, 2017
Yellow rumped Warbler 'myrtle', Owl Hole Rd, Grand Bahama, Feb 8, 2017
Cape May Warbler, Garden of the Groves, Grand Bahama, Feb 8, 2017
Northern Waterthrush, Garden of the Groves, Grand Bahama, Feb 8, 2017
Cape May Warbler, Garden of the Groves, Grand Bahama, Feb 8, 2017
Black throated Green Warbler, Garden of the Groves, Grand Bahama, Feb 8, 2017
On Wednesday the 8th I hired a guide (Erica Gates) for the entire day to try to track down the above mentioned targets and had some success as well as a few misses. We started out in the pine lands on the way to Owl's Hole looking for pine specialties and after a bit of walking we ran across a mixed species flock that contained at least two Olive capped Warblers. Although we tried to turn up the other two endemic warbler we had no luck here (or any of the other spots we checked over the course of the day). I was certainly happy to get to see, hear and photograph the Olive capped Warbler.  The pine lands also produced a number of other warblers including Common Yellowthroat, Pine Warbler, Palm Warbler (western), Yellow rumped Warbler (myrtle) and Yellow throated Warbler. After an entire morning out in the pine lands we headed over to Garden of the Groves for lunch and a few hours around the park where we ran across a few more new species of warblers for the Bahamas including Northern Waterthrush, Hooded Warbler, Cape May Warbler and Black throated Green Warbler.  Erika is a great guide and knows the island extremely well and I would recommend her to anyone visiting the island.
Bahama Warbler, Pine lands east, Grand Bahama, Feb 9, 2017
Bahama Warbler, Pine lands east, Grand Bahama, Feb 9, 2017
Bahama Warbler, Pine lands east, Grand Bahama, Feb 9, 2017
Bahama Warbler, Owl Hole Rd, Grand Bahama, Feb 9, 2017
Bahama Warbler, Owl Hole Rd,  Grand Bahama, Feb 9, 2017
Olive capped Warbler, Owl Hole Rd, Grand Bahama, Feb 9, 2017
Olive capped Warbler, Owl Hole Rd, Grand Bahama, Feb 9, 2017
Hooded Warbler, Garden of the Groves, Grand Bahama, Feb 9, 2017
Pine Warbler, Pine lands east, Grand Bahama, Feb 9, 2017
I decided to make a slight change from my original plans of hiring a guide for a second day and instead rented a jeep for a couple of days to explore some areas on my own. With Sherri doing some other activities on Thursday I had the entire morning into the afternoon free to explore the pine lands east of Freetown in search of the two endemic warblers I missed the day before. As mentioned before these two species (Bahama Warbler and Bahama Yellowthroat) have apparently become very tough to find following Hurricane Matthew that hit the island last October but I was determined to track them down. I headed out just before sunrise to start looking east of Lucayan NP and after one minor missed turn I was on my way (the toughest part was driving on the left...a throwback to the English roots of the Bahamas). The area past the national park was somewhat quiet and there were not any good spots to penetrate into the pines so I decided to head back to a series of old logging roads which had some sightings of both of my target species before the hurricane. I started on a road north of Owl's Hole Road and one of the first birds I noticed was a Bahama Warbler crawling its way up the side of a pine much like a nuthatch. I was really not expecting it to be so easy to find the bird after a lot of looking yesterday but luck was with me I guess. The area to the north of the main highway would eventually produce at least four individuals of this species plus I added two more individuals later on in the morning along Owl's Hole Road. Glad to see several individuals made it through the storm and continue to occupy the area. I ran across lots of other expected species but I had no luck finding a Bahama Yellowthroat north of the highway. I then decided to try my luck south of the highway in an area we spent some time in yesterday along Owl's Hole Rd. This proved to be a great decision as I ran across a Bahama Yellowthroat about a half mile down the road. I was pishing and had a yellowthroat scolding from the deep undergrowth but I was fully expecting to find another Common Yellowthroat. I tried a little playback and the bird immediately popped up giving me brief but decent looks at a female Bahama Yellowthroat that promptly dove back down and would not show itself again so no luck getting a photo.  The only other new warbler for the Bahamas for the trip was a Black and White Warbler.  At this point it was midday and after all morning out in the hot sun I was ready for a break so I headed back to Garden of the Grove to try my luck there and although I didn't find anything new I got much better looks at a Hooded Warbler there compared to yesterday.
American Redstart, Lucaya NP, Grand Bahama, Feb 10, 2017
Black and White Warbler, Owl Hole Rd, Grand Bahama, Feb 10, 2017
Ovenbird, Garden of Grand Bahama Birders B&B, Grand Bahama, Feb 10, 2017
Our last full day on Grand Bahama dawned much cooler than previous days with temps in the low 60's but the sun quickly warmed us up into the 70's. We took the jeep out to Lucayna NP to walk on some of the trails there before the crowds appeared. The winds was picking up on our way out there and it they would continue throughout the day which made finding birds a bit tough. Our next stop was over to Owl's Hole Road where we walked for about an hour down through the pine lands.  No luck finding a Bahama Yellowthroat there despite a lot of effort but did have a lot of the same species I had the day before including more Bahama Warblers and Olive capped Warblers.
Black and White Warbler, Garden of Grand Bahama Birders B&B, Grand Bahama, Feb 11, 2017
Palm Warbler (western), Reef Golf Course, Grand Bahama, Feb 11, 2017
Ovenbird, Garden of Grand Bahama Birders B&B, Grand Bahama, Feb 11, 2017
Prairie Warbler, Garden of Grand Bahama Birders B&B, Grand Bahama, Feb 11, 2017
Our last day in the Bahamas was spent relatively locally and I started the day just before dawn at the Reef Country Club checking the various ponds and edge before the golfers showed up for the day. Nothing too unusual but large number of western Palm Warblers were around. After about an hour and a half at the country club I headed back to our lodging and the gardens right outside our back door which produced more warblers but nothing new.  Yesterday our host (and guide) asked if I wanted to go I here to a couple of other nearby golf courses to try to get some other new birds and I figured, why not? We headed out late morning to the Emerald Golf Course where we found a number of new species but no new warblers. This golf course has been closed since a couple of severe hurricanes back in 2003/2004 and the area has become overgrown providing some great bird habitat. We walked along some paths through the dense vegetation and had a very intriguing yellowthroat that may have been a Bahama Yellowthroat but we never got good enough looks to be sure.  The rest of the early afternoon I spent more time exploring the gardens at our lodging as well as packing for the trip home. We made it to the port to await the ferry and while there got a message that our flight was already cancelled for Sunday due to another big snow storm back home.

Overall for the trip I managed to find a total of 20 species of warbler with Florida producing 15 species and the Bahamas producing 17.  The trip added three more species of warblers to my list (Olive capped Warbler, Bahama Warbler and Bahama Yellowthroat) bringing my total to 67.


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Florida warblers during a recent trip including four new species for the state (but a miss for a wintering Kirtland's Warbler)


Prairie Warbler, Evergreen Cemetery, Ft Lauderdale, FL, Feb 5, 2017
Palm Warbler 'western', Evergreen Cemetery, Ft Lauderdale, FL, Feb 5, 2017
Northern Parula, Richardson Park, Wilton Manor, FL, Feb 5, 2017
Black throated Blue Warbler, Richardson Park, Wilton Manor, FL, Feb 5, 2017
Common Yellowthroat, Green Cay Wetlands, Boynton Beach, FL, Feb 5, 2017
Pine Warbler, Green Cay Wetlands, Boynton Beach, FL, Feb 5, 2017
Just back from a week or so in sunny, warm Florida and the Bahamas.  I'll split up the trip into two separate posts with the first being the Florida section of the trip.  We took a flight down to Fort Lauderdale on Sunday the 5th arriving there midday. After a quick bite to eat we made a couple brief stops to look for some unusual warblers being seen in the Fort Lauderdale area (including a Black throated Gray Warbler and Hooded Warbler). The first stop was at Evergreen Cemetery to try to find the Black throated Gray Warbler which I eventually found traveling with a mixed species flock but I missed getting a photo of it after a brief look and never managed to track it back down. Lots of other warblers in the cemetery including Yellow throated, Prairie, Palm (both western and eastern) and Yellow rumped Warblers plus Northern Parula. Our next stop was a bit more to the north at Richardson Park where I managed to hear the Hooded Warbler but never could get a look at it. While looking around the park I did find one more warbler species, a female Black throated Blue Warbler.  Our final stop in the afternoon was further north up to the Green Cay Wetlands in Boynton Beach. We spent a couple hours there and added two more warblers for the trip with Common Yellowthroat and Pine Warbler. Overall for the afternoon of the first day I had a total of ten species of warbler with three of those being new for my Florida list (Black throated Gray, Hooded and Black throated Blue Warblers).
Black and White Warbler, Wakodahatchee Wetlands, Boynton Beach, FL, Feb 6, 2017
Yellow rumped Warbler 'myrtle', Wakodahatchee Wetlands, Boynton Beach, FL, Feb 6, 2017
Prairie Warbler, Wakodahatchee Wetlands, Boynton Beach, FL, Feb 6, 2017
Orange crowned Warbler, Wakodahatchee Wetlands, Boynton Beach, FL, Feb 6, 2017
Yellow throated Warbler, Evergreen Cemetery, Ft. Lauderdale, Feb 6, 2017
The first full day of vacation we spent hitting a few new spots as well as repeat visits to a couple others. We started at Wakodohatchee Wetlands in Boca Raton. The man made wetlands there are a smaller version of the Green Cay Wetlands we visited yesterday and held a few new species.  I ran across a mixed flock containing a number of warblers including my first American Redstart, Black and White Warblers and Orange crowned Warbler. We left the wetlands late morning and made it over to the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center along the coast. Very quiet bird wise due to the crowds but still managed to add one more new warbler, a Northern Waterthrush. Even without many birds it was still interesting to see work being done there on sea turtle research as well as sea turtle rescue. After a brief stop for lunch we returned to Richardson Park once again but I missed on finding the Hooded Warbler but it was a bit breezy.  Our final stop for the day was another repeat visit, this time to the Evergreen Cemetery in Fort Lauderdale. My goal here was to try to get some photos of the Black throated Gray Warbler there. Despite much effort I never managed to find the bird but did have another nice mixed species flock and got some additional photos. Overall I found 14 species of warblers in the first couple days in Florida.  We headed out early the next morning for the ferry ride over to Grand Bahama...more on that in a future post.
Northern Parula, Bill Baggs Cape Florida SP, Key Biscayne, FL, Feb 12, 2017
Cape May Warbler, Bill Baggs Cape Florida SP, Key Biscayne, FL, Feb 12, 2017
Cape May Warbler, Bill Baggs Cape Florida SP, Key Biscayne, FL, Feb 12, 2017
Northern Parula, Bill Baggs Cape Florida SP, Key Biscayne, FL, Feb 12, 2017
Prairie Warbler, Bill Baggs Cape Florida SP, Key Biscayne, FL, Feb 12, 2017
Our vacation got an unexpected extension with the arrival of another major winter storm in the northeast that cancelled our flight home on Sunday the 12th.  After spending some time rebooking our flight home, finding a hotel and extending our rental car for another day we had another sunny, warm day in Florida. I noticed a sighting from Saturday of a very out of place Kirtland's Warbler in a park on Key Biscayne south of Miami and after seeing video of the bird there was no doubt on the identification. This very range restricted and endangered warbler breeds in Michigan and winter in the Bahamas with no known records of the species in the US during winter. The timing points more toward an overwintering bird instead of an early migrant. Thankfully we were looking for a place to spend the day and it didn't take much convincing to make the 45 minute drive down to Bill Baggs Cape Florida SP and try to find the bird. We didn't arrive until late morning and the reports from multiple birders already there all negative but I was still hopeful. We checked the area where the bird had been seen but we also had no luck so we decided to start searching the many nearby areas that also featured some decent habitat. Although we ran across a number of mixed species flocks none of the them featured the sought after bird. After a brief stop for lunch I continued the search once again and covered some of the same areas as well as new ones but still came up empty. As we were making our last run down another trail we ran into some other birders from earlier and found out they also had no better luck than we did finding the bird but they did point us toward a location that featured a number of warblers including a Cape May Warbler and a number of Northern Parula. We had much better luck with these species and got some decent photos.  It would have been nice to see the Kirtland's Warbler again as I have only seen them once before up in Michigan and never got photos but no luck this time. I'm certain the bird is still in the area and will hopefully be relocated, perhaps once there are less crowds around.  Looking at reports from Florida after we left on Monday the Kirtland's was relocated on Wednesday and was seen in the area for the next several days.  With my bookend stops in Florida I managed to find a total of 15 species of warblers there with four of those new for my Florida list (Black throated Gray, Hooded, Black throated Blue and Cape May Warblers).