101 species of bird spotted in annual count
Some birds rarely seen in Bermuda have been spotted during an Island-wide count, including a long-tailed duck, yellow-throated vireo and a horned grebe.
A total of 8,579 individual birds, representing 101 different species, were spotted from dawn to dusk during the annual Christmas bird count conducted by the Bermuda Audubon Society.
The largest birds included a number of ospreys at Morgan’s Point. The impressive birds of prey are occasional visitors to the Island. At the other end of the scale were sparrows, vireos and warblers.
The long-tailed duck, which has never been seen in any of the previous 37 annual Christmas bird counts, was spotted by Peter Adhemar and Geoff Bell in the east end.
The two were part of a team of 16 observers who split up to cover seven separate areas of Bermuda on foot, bike, car and boat.
The count was conducted on December 29 before gales struck the Island the following day.
There were record counts of a number of species, including 51 great blue herons, 62 belted kingfishers and 70 lesser black-backed gulls.
Birdwatchers also noted a number of Eurasian wigeons, spotted sandpipers and yellow-bellied sapsuckers.
“One species the counters were particularly pleased to record was a northern lapwing, which is a stray from Europe. It has been present in Bermuda for about a month but elusive on the fringes of the airport,” said Andrew Dobson, president of the Bermuda Audubon Society.
“However, about 55 percent of all birds recorded were starlings, kiskadees, sparrows or feral pigeons — all invasive species which shouldn’t really be in Bermuda and they have certainly had an impact on our local birds.
“Few US counts, if any, can record as many warbler species as Bermuda does each year due to our mild winter weather. Eighteen warbler species were recorded this year and 377 individuals.
“The Island provides the most northerly winter refuge for many of these species each year. Most warblers have migrated well to the south, wintering in Central or South America.”
Yesterday at least five snow geese were spotted on the Island, two at Mid Ocean Golf Course and three at Riddell’s Bay Golf Course, boosting the overall bird count week total.
Mr Dobson added that citizen science was “a way for people to connect with the natural world through fun activities that generate vital information for the conservation of birds”.
He said: “This partnership benefits us all: observers learn about birds by taking part in these science-based activities, and National Audubon’s science staff gain invaluable information.
“Most importantly, the birds benefit because it helps Audubon focus on those birds and habitats that most need our help.”
Results from the 38th Christmas bird count will be available as they are entered onto the National Audubon website www.audubon.org/bird/cbc