Birding the Bahamas with Borderland Tours

BIRDING THE BAHAMAS WITH BORDERLAND TOURS - FEB 1-7 2017

 Kirkland's Warbler, Eleuthera

Kirkland's Warbler, Eleuthera

Bahamas endemics and much more! From 1-7 February 2017, I was co-leading a birding tour to the Bahamas with Rick Taylor of Borderland Tours www.borderland-tours.com

DAY 1 - ABACO

 Marsh Harbour marina, across the road from Lofty Fig Villas, where we stayed

Marsh Harbour marina, across the road from Lofty Fig Villas, where we stayed

The tour started in Marsh Harbour, Abaco, where we found Cuban Emeralds in the grounds and Bahama Parrot in walking distance. The grounds were bustling with Thick-billed Vireos, Red-legged Thrushes, Black-faced Grassquits and several species of migrants including many Cape May Warblers and an Indigo Bunting. 

 Red-legged Thrush

Red-legged Thrush

 Cape May Warbler

Cape May Warbler

DAY 2 - ABACO

In the morning we headed south to Bahama Palm Shores, where we got great views of the Bahama Parrot, Olive-capped Warbler, Hairy Woodpecker. West Indian Woodpecker, Western Spindalis, Greater Antillean Bullfinch and Black-faced Grassquit and I saw my first male Painted Bunting..

 Painted Bunting

Painted Bunting

Further south, at the Y, we were fascinated by the abundant and spectacular Atala Hairstreak butterflies. They are endangered in Florida but common on Abaco. On the pine trees, we found our first Bahama Warblers and Pine Warblers a plenty.

 Atala Hairstreak

Atala Hairstreak

 Bahama Warbler

Bahama Warbler

 La Sagra's Flycatcher

La Sagra's Flycatcher

We heeded the warnings about parrots but didn't see any..

 Sign on the road in Abaco

Sign on the road in Abaco

We lunched at Nancy's at Sandy Point where we saw Royal Tern, Sandwich Tern, Laughing Gull and Brown Pelican. On the return trip we had great views of Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel and Smooth-billed Ani.

DAY 3 - ELEUTHERA

The next morning we transferred to Eleuthera via Nassau. We stayed at Pineapple Fields, which is adjacent to the Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve, run by the Bahamas National Trust. www.levypreserve.org/

 Pineapple Fields

Pineapple Fields

At the feeders at Leon Levy we had great views of the scintillating Bahama Woodstar. We also saw Mangrove Cuckoo and several warblers, including Magnolia, Yellow-throated and Yellow-rumped, as well as Greater Antillean Bullfinch and some anole lizards.

 An Anole and a hummingbird compete for the feeder.

An Anole and a hummingbird compete for the feeder.

DAY 4 - ELEUTHERA

On the 4th February we headed south, pausing at Tarpum Bay for a very rewarding look at gulls and terns. In a large group of Ring-billed and Laughing Gulls and Royal Terns we found 2 Black Skimmers, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 1 Black-headed Gull.

 Black-headed Gull

Black-headed Gull

 Black Skimmer and Ring-billed Gull

Black Skimmer and Ring-billed Gull

 Lesser Black-backed Gull

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Further south, we were lucky to find 2 Kirtland's Warblers, 2 Giant Lizard Cuckoos and at least 6 Bahama Mockingbirds.

 At this stage n the tour we were still very concerned that we might miss some endemics...

At this stage n the tour we were still very concerned that we might miss some endemics...

 Giant Lizard Cuckoo

Giant Lizard Cuckoo

 Bahama Mockingbird

Bahama Mockingbird

We headed on to Rock Sound for lunch and after excellent views of  Yellow-throated Warbler, an Osprey and some Kingfishers we had a similarly excellent lunch at Wild Orchid Restaurant, where a Palm Warbler tried to join us.

 Yellow-throated Warbler

Yellow-throated Warbler

 Wild Orchid Restaurant

Wild Orchid Restaurant

 Palm Warbler on a lunch table at the Wild Orchid

Palm Warbler on a lunch table at the Wild Orchid

Heading back, we stopped at the Great Pond, where waterbirds were few and hard to see. We found some Lesser Scaup. We also visited Oyster Pond to see the cormorants and paused at Barrow Ponds to see a Tricolored Heron and some Antillean Saddlebags dragonflies.

 Antillean Saddlebags

Antillean Saddlebags

DAY 5 - ELEUTHERA

The morning of the 5th February saw us back in the coppice - and we were very excited to see and photograph 2 more Kirkland's Warblers! We also saw Western Spindalis and more Bahama Mockingbirds. 

 Kirtland's Warbler

Kirtland's Warbler

 Western Spindalis

Western Spindalis

DAY 5 - ANDROS

Mid-morning on 5th February, we left Eleuthera, flew to Nassau and on to Andros, where we stayed at Small Hope Bay, a dive resort on the beach - with Bahama Orioles in the grounds!

 Arriving in Andros on charter plane

Arriving in Andros on charter plane

 Andros Airport - note the tarpaulins and sand bags on the roof - recovery from Hurricane Matthew is still in progress

Andros Airport - note the tarpaulins and sand bags on the roof - recovery from Hurricane Matthew is still in progress

 The grounds of Small Hope Bay

The grounds of Small Hope Bay

 Bahama Oriole

Bahama Oriole

 Yellow Warbler in the mangroves at Small Hope Bay

Yellow Warbler in the mangroves at Small Hope Bay

DAY 6 - ANDROS

 Caribbean Pines

Caribbean Pines

 Bahama Yellowthroat

Bahama Yellowthroat

 Cuban Pewee

Cuban Pewee

 Bill's Blue Hole

Bill's Blue Hole

 Participants taking a break at Bill's Blue Hole

Participants taking a break at Bill's Blue Hole

 Pine Warbler

Pine Warbler

We returned for lunch at Small Hope Bay, and after lunch found this Piping Plover on the rocks. Later Rick and Reed saw a Red-breasted Merganser in the bay in front of the hotel.

 Sand flats - beautiful location but we only found Royal Terns and Clapper Rails there.

Sand flats - beautiful location but we only found Royal Terns and Clapper Rails there.

 Piping Plover on the beach at Small Hope Bay

Piping Plover on the beach at Small Hope Bay

 Bahama Swallow

Bahama Swallow

 Looking for Clapper Rails near Small Hope Bay

Looking for Clapper Rails near Small Hope Bay

 And we found them! - Clapper Rail

And we found them! - Clapper Rail

 Reddish Egret

Reddish Egret

Day 7 - return via Nassau

Sadly we had to leave the Bahamas on the 7th February but we're looking forward to the next visit.

 Nassau from the air - New Providence is much more developed than the other islands that we visited

Nassau from the air - New Providence is much more developed than the other islands that we visited