A group of twelve bird watchers met early on Saturday November 17 for the monthly bird watching and recording of the bird population. The area targeted that day stretched between Stink Pond and Abaco Heights. The bird watchers were able to record thirty four species of birds ranging from Raptors to Warblers and Water Birds.
Led by ornithologist Reginald Patterson, later met by another extremely knowledgeable birder, Dr Elwood Bracey, their first stop was at Stink Pond where their approach surprised some Coots, the whole flock of them taking off as one. They also had time to contemplate a Hairy Woodpecker busily pecking away at a dead mangrove limb. A Green Heron and a Great Egret also frequented the pond.
While walking through the abandoned development of Abaco Heights, all the way to the shore, they were able to observe many bird species in the coppice habitat.
The weather was not the best for birdwatching, as it was overcast most of the morning with a light breeze. The berries of Ficus, Gum Elemi and Poison Wood, which are a staple diet of many birds besides insects, had been wiped out by Hurricane Sandy. Also not too many insects were around, which might be the reason why, although thirty four species was a good number to record, the number of birds spotted was rather low for the season in that area.
The group spent quite a long time trying to identify a hawk perched on a dead tree a distance away, but the bird stayed there in spite of the attempts to make it fly which would have helped to identify it. Dr. Bracey used his recorder to mimic lots of bird calls to no avail. The bird of prey would not budge until after the watchers had departed. It was speculated that it could have been either a Merlin or a Red Tail Hawk, a bird that they encountered further along the way.
A Northern Water Thrush and Belted King Fisher were among the interesting sightings.
Common Yellow Throats were the most abundant of the warblers.
This year’s Audubon Christmas Count will take place on December 15 for South Abaco. The date for the Northern part of the island is still being debated. The most likely possibility is December 29.