Humpback and Killer Whales in the Gulf of Guinea

Protector spent a period of time towards the end of July in the Gulf of Guinea. I had last traversed the GOG back in 2012 en route to St Helena and it was pretty much a wildlife free zone. Glad to report this time it was marginally better, but still not exactly setting the world on fire. Tony and I spent many hours watching dark seas under grey skies for little reward on the whole.  Humpback whales did make appearances on several dates, usually they were quite distant but on the 28th we had a family group a little closer to the ship allowing a few images. One whale in particular was doing a lot of tail slapping which was quite impressive.

Humpback Whale, Gulf of Guinea, 28 July 2014

Humpback Whale, Gulf of Guinea, 28 July 2014

Humpback Whale, Gulf of Guinea, 28 July 2014

Two days later a broadcast from the bridge alerted the ships company to the presence of two Killer Whales passing near to the ship. I raced up to the bridge roof, grabbing my camera on the way.  I managed to grab a few snaps of one of the whales as it passed by the bow, before both went deep and surfaced around 100 metres off the stern a few minutes later. I rattled a few more shots off before the pair disappeared into the distance.

Killer Whale, Gulf of Guinea, 28 July 2014

Killer Whales, Gulf of Guinea, 28 July 2014

Killer Whale, Gulf of Guinea, 28 July 2014

Steve C

Santiago Island, Cape Verde birding: Black-crowned Finch-lark and Alexander’s Kestrel around Praia Airport

The third and final location on our first day of birding was the grassy scrub located between Praia Airport and the nearby sea.  Unfortunately many areas of the extensive habitat were strewn with litter and fly tipping and consequently plastic bags were snagged on many of the bushes.  Birds were surprisingly few and far between as we strolled around for approximately an hour and a half.  The most regular species was the endemic Cape Verde Swift with single or small groups of birds occasionally flying effortlessly overhead.

Praia Airport scrub

Cape Verde Swift, Praia Airport scrub, Cape Verde – 11 Jul 14. Photographed by Steve Copsey

Although we dipped on Bar-tailed Lark we did connect with two small flocks of Black-crowned Finch-Lark that showed a preference for feeding along the various bare vehicle tracks that criss-crossed the area.  The majority of the birds were male but there was the occasional much plainer brown female amongst them.

Black-crowned Finch-lark (male), Praia Airport scrub, Cape Verde – 11 Jul 14. Photographed by Steve Copsey

Black-crowned Finch-lark (female), Praia Airport scrub, Cape Verde – 11 Jul 14. Photographed by Steve Copsey

At least two Alexander’s Kestrel provided the opportunity to capture a few record shots of what is a sub-species of Common Kestrel.  A flushed Common Quail was another noteworthy record being a species I have only encountered the once back home in Hampshire at Martin Down.  It was a species we flushed regularly on our second visit to the airport scrub three days later.

Alexander’s Kestrel, Praia Airport scrub, Cape Verde – 11 Jul 14. Photographed by Steve Copsey

After giving our taxi driver a generous tip Steve and I enjoyed a well deserved local tuna dish washed down with a couple of local beers at a quiet outdoor street restaurant in Praia.  It was an enjoyable end to a good day of birding.

Good birding,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) GeoSci (Open)

Tortola, British Virgin Islands Insect Identification Challenge

Below are a few images from the visit to Tortola back in June. I have browsed the web without success for the correct identification of the spider and butterflies and possibly a moth. Any comments on the id would be most welcome.

By the way did I mention the Pusser’s Rum Bar !!!

Spider sp, Tortola, 25 June 2014

Butterfly sp 1, Tortola, 25 June 2014

Butterfly sp 2, Tortola, 25 June 2014

Moth/Butterfly sp 1, Tortola, 25 June 2014

Lastly the lizard below was seen in Antigua at the back of the Coconut Grove Beach Bar. Possibly an Anole species, any ideas welcome.

Lizard sp, Antigua, 9 June 2014

Steve C

Long-tailed Skua: East Beach, Church Norton to Selsey

I am now back in Hampshire for a few weeks and after visiting parents in Lancashire and Yorkshire over the mid-week period, I asked my wife if she would fancy a drive over to Church Norton. I explained how picturesque the church is and that Pagham Harbour looks lovely at this time of year. Not forgetting the wonderful shingle beach stretching down to Selsey Bill. “You want to see the skua don’t you” was the reply. Of course she is an avid reader of the blog, so she was well aware that I had seen Long-tailed Skua just a few months back in the Pacific with Tony, and also back in 2012 when I had had several off the West African coast on migration. So after explaining that I needed the skua for my British List we set off East, diverting to the local Tesco for a picnic.

We parked up at Church Norton and headed down to the beach, passing by the church on the way. We walked along the beach to the line of cottages and Jo decided now was the time to have a picnic. I was thinking we might be here for a few hours so best hold off on the food. So needless to say we sat down and enjoyed lunch. An immature Peregrine flew along the beach as we ate and sat on the shingle quite close to the water. It called continuously but no adults were seen. It then flew off in the direction of Pagham Harbour.

St Winifred's Chapel at Church Norton

East Beach

We then walked a little further along the beach arriving at the promenade just as the Long-tailed Skua flew into view. The bird came in from the west and flew low over the groynes towards where we watched. Very glad to report that the bird then settled on the beach pretty much in front of our position. We were joined here by the Tindales; nice to see Tony up and about and also taking his wife for a pleasant stroll along the West Sussex coastline (aren’t birder thoughtful). The bird gave great views as it preened for a while and eventually settled on the shingle.

Long-tailed Skua, East Beach, 15 Aug 2014

Long-tailed Skua, East Beach, 15 Aug 2014

Long-tailed Skua, East Beach, 15 Aug 2014

Long-tailed Skua, East Beach, 15 Aug 2014

 

After about 15 minutes the bird then suddenly took off and chased an unfortunate tern which I believe was a Common Tern, which appeared to give up it meal rather quickly. That said in the terns favour it then flew off and was left in peace. The skua dropped to the surface to pick up its prize before returning to the beach slightly to the east. This procedure was repeated several times over the next hour.  The bird obviously feeding well during its stay on the South Coast. As we walked back towards Church Norton we caught a last glimpse of the bird as it chased another tern nearer to the harbour entrance.

Long-tailed Skua chasing Common Tern, East Beach, 15 Aug 2014

Long-tailed Skua chasing Common Tern, East Beach, 15 Aug 2014

Long-tailed Skua chasing Common Tern, East Beach, 15 Aug 2014

Interestingly when the bird first flew onto the beach in front of us I captured a few images of the bird walking, almost stalking along the beach for a few paces. When I enlarged the images I could see the skua was feeding on Sandhoppers of some description. See below.

Long-tailed Skua in stalking mode, East Beach, 15 Aug 2014

Long-tailed Skua with Sandhopper, East Beach, 15 Aug 2014

A little closer

Steve C

Santiago Island, Cape Verde birding: Barragem de Poilao Reservoir – American Golden Plover and Greenshank

After an hour at the Botanical Gardens and with two endemic species (Iago Sparrow and Cape Verde Warbler) ticked off Steve and I headed back to our taxi.  Our next intended stop was the Barragem de Poilao Reservoir located back towards Praia but it was evident that our driver didn’t understand where it was we wanted to go.  However, after several stops for directions, one of which added Alexander’s Kestrel (a sub-species of Common Kestrel) to the trip list, and turning down an offer of buying a live rabbit from a group of young lads, we eventually arrived at the small car park above the dam.

Barragem de Poilao Reservoir, Santiago Island, Cape Verde – 8 Jul 14. Photographed by Steve Copsey

Cattle Egrets were immediately conspicuous in the branches of dead trees that stuck out of the water on both sides of the flooded valley.  Amongst them was a single Great Egret and at least two Little Egrets, whilst Common Moorhen paddled amongst the branches and beyond.  However, it was a group of waders on the far side of the reservoir that caught our attention, specifically a single wader amongst a group of six Black-necked Stilts.  Our initial identification of Common Greenshank was proved to be correct as we walked across the dam and got closer to the birds.

Greenshank and Black-winged Stilt, Barragem de Poilao Reservoir, Santiago Island, Cape Verde – 8 Jul 14

Unfortunately, once we reached the other side of the dam the group of waders was hidden from view behind shoreline vegetation.  Our efforts to covertly skirt around the obscuring flora enabled a few record shots to be taken before our proximity resulted in the birds taking flight over the water.  However, an eighth bird that we hadn’t previously noticed was less concerned by our presence and remained beside the edge of the water.  It was obviously a species of Golden Plover and I knew the abrupt ending of the white margins on either side of the black neck and chest was a significant distinguishing feature.  Back onboard a little homework confirmed that it was in fact an American Golden Plover, a species that is a vagrant to the Cape Verde island of Santiago.  Although it wasn’t a ‘lifer’, unlike the endemics (Cape Verde Swift, Iago Sparrow and Cape Verde Warbler) we had seen earlier it was our most significant sighting.

American Golden Plover, Barragem de Poilao Reservoir, Santiago Island, Cape Verde – 8 Jul 14

American Golden Plover, Barragem de Poilao Reservoir, Santiago Island, Cape Verde – 8 Jul 14. Photographed by Steve Copsey

The walk back across the dam to the taxi added an additional two species.  The first was a thirty plus strong flock of Common Waxbills that actively searched for food on the ground beside the track.  The second was a pair of very elusive Spectacled Warbler that we spotted flitting between the scrub as we admired the Waxbills.

Common Waxbill, Barragem de Poilao Reservoir, Santiago Island, Cape Verde – 8 Jul 14. Photographed by Steve Copsey

Spectacled Warbler, Barragem de Poilao Reservoir, Santiago Island, Cape Verde – 8 Jul 14

Good birding,

Tony T   BSc (Hons) GeoSci (Open)

West Indies Birding: Pearly-eyed Thrasher and American Kestrel on Tortola

The ship paid a brief visit to the island of Tortola for two days back at the end of June. Work commitments allowed me just the one day off but I took a trek from the town up into the hills and found a few birds. American Kestrels are relatively common on the island and sure enough I came across several. The first being perched on a street light on the edge of town.  Then two further birds together in a dead tree.

American Kestrel, Tortola, 25 June 2014

American Kestrels, Tortola, 25 June 2014

As with the kestrels Scaly-naped Pigeons are classed as common and again I came across several birds. Each time they were perched on overhead lines; a popular perching spot for many birds. A small party of fly over Smooth-billed Anis were a new bird for the trip list as was Pearly eyed Thrasher; again I had several birds on the walk with a particularly confiding bird in a garden as I dropped back into town.

Scaly-naped Pigeon, Tortola, 25 June 2014

Pearly-eyed Thrasher, Tortola, 25 June 2014

The evening consisted in part of a visit to the Pusser’s Rum bar in Tortola main town. The Rum cocktails are well worth a try and you even get a free mug.

Painkiller Please !!!

 

Steve C

West Indies Birding, British Virgin Islands: Caribbean Martins

Caribbean Martin is classed as a fairly common breeding resident of the West Indies, although it is thought to migrate to South America between October and December. We had several birds on the jetty at Antigua but I never got around to photographing them. Whilst we surveyed around Tortola; the ship was constantly visited by birds from the island. Usually several birds would congregate around the ship and they would chase each other around as well as appear to be feeding. A few of the birds even alighted in drain holes in the side of the ship. As I peered over the ship side from the f’csle, I could see perched birds looking back at me from below, whilst others flew close by chattering as they went. The second image below is taken looking down on one such bird. The birds do nest in crevices on sea cliffs so perhaps they felt quite at home on the red cliffs of Protector.

Caribbean Martin, British Virgin Islands, 17 June 2014

Caribbean Martin on HMS Protector, British Virgin Islands, 17 June 2014

Caribbean Martin, British Virgin Islands, 17 June 2014

Caribbean Martin, British Virgin Islands, 17 June 2014

Caribbean Martin, British Virgin Islands, 17 June 2014

Steve C

 

West Indies Birding, British Virgin Islands: Seabirds around Tortola

After leaving Antigua, Protector spent a period of time surveying around the British Virgin Islands. During the survey work I spent quite a few hours on the upper deck. I was well aware that I was not going to see many species but a few did show and they showed well.  Brown Booby is classed as a fairly common resident around the West Indies and most days we had the odd bird around the ship. On the 12th of June we had a single bird in company with the ship for a lengthy period of time. The bird was hovering around the bridge roof and taking station alongside as it searched for Flying Fish. As soon as a fish was put up by the ship the Booby would pounce and had a decent success rate.

Brown Booby, Caribbean Sea, 12 June 2014

Brown Booby, Caribbean Sea, 12 June 2014

Many of the ships company reported to me that they had seen a number of Pterodactyls whilst we surveyed.  Of course what they had seen were Magnificent Frigatebirds. We had seen this species in Panama as well as around Charleston but it was in the waters surrounding the British Virgin Islands that they gathered around the ship in large numbers. Especially when we were in the vicinity of a small island called Great Tobago. On the 15th June we had at least 160 Frigatebirds near the ship with 40 or so birds directly overhead, the odd bird as seen in the image below showing particularly well. After twenty minutes or so they all flew over to Great Tobago, it would be interesting to know if they nest on the island. That said the vast majority of the birds seen were immature birds so it may well be that they just use the Great Tobago to roost.

Magnificent Frigatebird, Caribbean Sea, 23 June 2014

Magnificent Frigatebird, Caribbean Sea, 23 June 2014

The last seabird of note was the Roseate Tern. It is classed as an uncommon resident around the majority of the West Indies, however, the only place it is common is the British Virgin Islands so I was in luck. Roseate Terns in the Caribbean show more red in the bill than birds in North America and Europe, so many are misidentified as Common Terns. Unfortunately none of the Roseate Terns came overly close to the ship but I was happy with the rather distant record shots.

Roseate Terns, Caribbean Sea, 18 June 2014

Roseate Tern, Caribbean Sea, 18 June 2014

Steve C

Santiago Island, Cape Verde birding: Botanic Gardens – Grey-headed Kingfisher, Iago Sparrow and Cape Verde Warbler

On the morning of Monday 7 Jul 14 Mrs T dropped me off at London Gatwick South Terminal. There I caught a TAP Portugal flight to Praia (Santiago Island, Cape Verde Islands), via Lisbon, to rejoin HMS PROTECTOR after an extended period of Watch Rotation Leave. When I left PRTR in Charleston (USA) on 20 May 14 I expected to return in Cape Verde for a final single rotation onboard. However, during my leave it had finally been confirmed that the trial post I had been assigned to onboard in Mar 13 was to be made permanent. Unsurprisingly, with such short notice there was no possibility of a relief in the short-term. Therefore, I had reluctantly agreed to extend onboard until the ship returned to the UK in mid-2015. Consequently, that last view I had of Antarctica, as PRTR left King George Island shrouded in mist bound for Punta Arenas (Chile) back in Mar 14, will not be my last.

However, before I return to the abundant, and now familiar, wildlife of Antarctica I had a couple of new locations to experience, the first being Praia and the island of Santiago. Back onboard Steve C had persevered with the limited Intranet facilities onboard and had the two free afternoons of the port visit planned out for me. Our first destination was the Botanic Gardens located twenty plus miles north of Praia. Once we had been dropped off in town by the ship’s transport we negotiated a price (5000 ‘dib-dobs’ – matlow speak for local currency) with a taxi driver for a whole afternoon of hire. Why Steve flagged down a dilapidated taxi that had to cut up a couple of pristine taxis to pull up at the curb beside us I’ll never know – it wasn’t like the driver could speak English! Luckily Steve had printed off a bird report from the Internet and our driver recognised the name, so we set off with Steve belted in at the front and me hanging on in the back. As I wondered if the suspension and wheel bearings of all the other taxis we passed were in such poor condition I observed my first ‘lifer’ – a Brown-necked Raven that flew off from the roadside with several Cattle Egrets. It turned out to be the only one we saw.

Beyond the city in the countryside I soon had another two ‘lifers’. Grey-headed Kingfishers, a species typical of dry rather than wet habitats, were regularly spotted perched on roadside telegraph wires whilst endemic Cape Verde Swifts flew around overhead.

Grey-headed Kingfisher, Barragem de Poilao Reservoir, Santiago Island, Cape Verde – 8 Jul 14

The Botanic Gardens themselves, accessed from the road via a long gravel track that winds up a hillside, were not exactly what Steve and I had expected. However, two of the species we had hoped to encounter, Iago Sparrow and Cape Verde Warbler, were present inside the walls of what is a surprisingly small area.

Iago Sparrow, Botanic Gardens, Santiago Island, Cape Verde – 8 Jul 14

Cape Verde Warbler, Botanic Gardens, Santiago Island, Cape Verde – 8 Jul 14

Good birding,

Tony T BSc   (Hons) GeoSci (Open)

West Indies Birding, Antigua: White-cheeked Pintails and Black-necked Stilts

A bird which I noticed as soon as I scanned the lagoon was White-cheeked Pintail, as several small flocks were feeding around the edge of the lagoon.  I read in the guide that this duck has declined dramatically across the West Indies over the last ten years; almost certainly due to overhunting and destruction of habitat. I’m glad to say that Antigua remains a stronghold and the species is still classed as a common breeding resident. Most of the birds were in the water but several came onto the mud and like the Green Heron appeared to be feeding out of the cracks in the mud.  I only found out when I checked my life list that the Pintail was a new addition, I thought I had seen the bird on Puerto Rico back in 2001.

White-cheeked Pintail, Antigua, West Indies, 9th June 2014

White-cheeked Pintail, Antigua, West Indies, 9th June 2014

White-cheeked Pintail, Antigua, West Indies, 9th June 2014

White-cheeked Pintails, Antigua, West Indies, 10th June 2014

Along with the Pintails, Black-necked Stilts were common around the lagoon. The bird is widespread across much of the West Indies and usually breeds between April and August, but occasionally into September and October.

Black-necked Stilt, Antigua, West Indies, 9th June 2014

Black-necked Stilt, Antigua, West Indies, 9th June 2014

Steve C

West Indies Birding, Antigua: Egrets and Herons in the Mangroves

Opposite the entrance to the Coconut is a shallow salt water lagoon surrounded by mangrove scrub. There were plenty of birds to be seen as we drove by earlier, so I spent an hour or so at the lagoon at the end of my walk around the area. As you would expect the heron family was well represented. A Yellow-crowned Night Heron gave good views near the bench where I sat on, as did a Green Heron. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, although the Yellow-crowned Night Heron is classed as a nocturnal bird you are far more likely to see it out in the day compared with Black-crowned. The Green Heron was taking advantage of prey items caught in the mud cracks by the retreating tide. A single Tricoloured Heron, which is noted as uncommon resident on Antigua then flew in to feed but stayed to the deeper water.

Yellow-crowned Heron, Antigua, West Indies, 9th June 2014

Green Heron, Antigua, West Indies, 9th June 2014

Tri-coloured Heron, Antigua, West Indies, 9th June 2014

Further around the lagoon I came across Brown Pelicans, Laughing Gulls and a small number of distant waders, which after a good grilling I was happy that they were Wilson’s and Semipalmated Plovers. Unfortunately they were too distant for any decent record shots. Several Great White Egrets were feeding at the lagoon and a Snowy Egret was also added to the list.

Snowy Egret, Antigua, West Indies, 9th June 2014

Great White Egret, Antigua, West Indies, 9th June 2014

Steve C

West Indies Birding, Antigua: Green-throated Carib

A hummingbird is always a stand out bird on any trip so I was really pleased to connect with a number of Green-throated Caribs whilst in Antigua. They are a common breeding resident and if you stand by a flowering shrub for more than a few minutes you would be unlucky not to see one. The bird pictured below had its own tree and other birds such as Bananaquits that tried to feed were soon dealt with. It would then return to perch where I was able to get a few shots before feeding again itself.

Green-throated Carib, Antigua, West Indies, 10th June 2014

Green-throated Carib, Antigua, West Indies, 10th June 2014

My attempts to get the birds in flight were not as successful but I was reasonably pleased with the two efforts below. No doubt given more time I could have hopefully achieved images a little sharper, but there is always another day.

Green-throated Carib, Antigua, West Indies, 9th June 2014

Green-throated Carib, Antigua, West Indies, 9th June 2014

HMS Protector and RCS Jewel of the Seas, Antigua, 10th June 2014

I have put the last image in for interest. Whilst the Protector was alongside in Antigua, the Royal Caribbean ship Jewel of the Seas pulled into port for a day visit. The Jewel of the seas was the cruise ship that I sailed with around the Baltic a few years back with my family. Bird wise the ship brings back memories of the White-throated Sparrow stowaway which set up home in one of the pool areas and caused minor twitches in Stockholm and Helsinki; fond memories.
Steve C

West Indies Birding, Antigua: Yellow Warbler and White-crowned Pigeon

As I ventured around the scrub, a number of local species started to pop up. Yellow Warbler is a difficult bird to miss and a pair feeding in a small tree soon caught my attention. The birds appeared very industrious as they continually fed. I would assume these birds are local and as such were probably in the middle of their nesting cycle which runs from March to July. It could well be that they were busy collecting food for growing young. White-crowned Pigeon was a bird I had seen in Florida in the summer heat of 2011. Quite a sought after bird in the States. Here however, it is a common breeding resident and at least five birds were seen. They seemed to have a liking for overhead wires as did the Grey Kingbird Which is another common and conspicuous bird on Antigua and the rest of the islands in the Caribbean.

Yellow Warbler, Antigua, West Indies, 9th June 2014

White-crowned Pigeon, Antigua, West Indies, 9th June 2014+

Grey Kingbird, Antigua, West Indies, 9th June 2014

My attention was then turned skywards as a life bird soared into view. I had read in the West Indies Bird Guide by Helm that Broad-winged Hawk was a common resident of Antigua. The main identification feature being the boldly barred tail. Happy to say this feature stood out in the bins and shows up well on the image below, despite the height of the bird observed. Carib Grackles were seen everywhere on the walk as you would expect from another of the islands common breeders. They especially favoured the short grass area around the hotels were good numbers would gather. A pleasant walk with a life bird was worth celebrating with a Rum and Banana cocktail at the Coconut Grove. I fully recommend you try one. (They do get a bit rich after half a dozen, but that’s another story).

Broad-winged Hawk, Antigua, West Indies, 9th June 2014

Carib Grackle, Antigua, West Indies, 9th June 2014

Coconut Grove, Antigua, West Indies, 9th June 2014

Steve C

West Indies Birding, Antigua: Bananaquits and Bullfinch’s

After my first watch rotation leave, which went all too quickly; I re-joined Protector in Antigua in the Caribbean Sea. It was a first visit to the island for me so I was hoping to tick off a few new life birds. I was aware that the middle of June was not the best time to visit the island but hey, I didn’t have a choice in the timings. On the second day in the mess was having a run ashore at a bar called the Coconut Grove about ten minutes by taxi. As we drove into the resort I spied a few patches of scrub and some agricultural land. The resort itself was on a lagoon which was bordered by mangroves so the area looked promising. Once inside there was a small lawned area with a pool and some flowering shrubs. The shrubs were alive with the trills of Bananaquits. I spent about twenty minutes by one shrub and eventually caught up with the birds. I had seen these birds before but not in the numbers I saw today. The hotel gardens were alive with them. Obviously the numerous flowering plants of the Coconut Grove as well as the nearby hotels were the attraction.

Bananaquit (1) Antigua, West Indies 9th June 2014

Bananaquit (2) Antigua, West Indies 9th June 2014

Bananaquit (3) Antigua, West Indies 9th June 2014

I joined the lads for a cold coke, but before sampling a few of the few local rums and a having a swim in the Caribbean, I took a stroll off into the ‘birding hotspots’ seen from the car. My first life bird of Antigua soon made it into the notebook. Lesser Antillean Bullfinch’s were relatively common in the scrubby area adjacent to the road. There are several Bullfinch species spread around the West Indies, but I had never come across any of them before. The male is pretty difficult to miss but the rather drab brown female is a little trickier. When I got back to the bar the lads pointed out a male that kept nipping into the kitchen; helping itself to nibbles.

Lesser Antillean Bullfinch (Fem) Antigua, West Indies, 9th June 2014

Lesser Antillean Bullfinch (Male) Antigua, West Indies, 9th June 2014

Lesser Antillean Bullfinch (Male) Antigua, West Indies, 10th June 2014

Steve C

Charleston, USA birding: Patriot Point – Clapper Rails and Northern Rough-winged Swallow

We walked back from the wader watch point towards the boardwalk and the Water Taxi back over to the other side of the harbour. We walked through some hotel grounds, (I think it was the Hilton) and on the far side was a large pond surrounded by scrub and small trees. A number of Egret and Herons were present in the trees. Great White Egrets were the most obvious species and a number of the nests contained two or three decent sized youngsters. Snowy Egrets were also on view with a couple of birds on the lower branches near the water. Also nice to see a single Black-crowned Night-heron perched in among the Egrets.

Great White Egret, Charleston - 11 May 14

Snowy Egret, Charleston - 11 May 14

Black-crowned Night-heron, Charleston - 11 May 14

Back at the boardwalk we were after a particular species which would be a life bird for Tony and that was Clapper Rail. So after much needed rehydration at the shop we sat on the boardwalk and waited. It was not too long before we heard a call we did not recognise and after viewing the deeper vegetation, we soon saw a Clapper Rail stalk into view for a few seconds before disappearing back into cover. As Tony continued looking for the first bird a second bird obligingly decided to cross a small patch of mud to give us both a more extended view of the species. A single Great White Egret was fishing nearby in the shallows. As we waited for the water taxi we had three species of Swallow. Barn Swallow, Cliff Swallow and lastly a single Northern Rough-winged Swallow which I managed to snap as it perched on a mooring rope.

Clapper Rail, Charleston - 11 May 14

Clapper Rail, Charleston - 11 May 14

Great White Egret, Charleston - 11 May 14

Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Charleston - 11 May 14

Steve C