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Bahamas - November 2012

Published by Carl T Ball (carlball AT yahoo.com)

Participants: Carl Ball, Wilma Ball

On Nov 15, 2012, we went on a 3-night cruise on the Carnival Glory to the Bahamas with stops in Nassau & Freeport. We had a balcony room but didn’t see any birds from the balcony we would not have seen touring the islands. We couldn’t stay very long on the balcony because of the cigarette, cigar, & marijuana smoke. At least we didn’t smell any smoke in our room. We should have got an inside room for this trip.

The Miami cruise port was pretty jammed-up with passengers when we arrived at 2pm Th – we were on the ship by 3pm. We carried-on our luggage (most people didn’t) – this allowed us to depart the ship in Miami at 8am Sun with no lines to contend with.

We thought the meals on the ship were pretty mediocre. The Br choices were terrible in the buffet & dinning room. We didn’t eat any lunches on the ship. When we came back from birding in the late afternoon the only food option open was the Burger Joint that had very long lines. The only things we enjoyed for Dn were the crab cakes one night and the Melting Chocolate Cake they served every night. The wine cost $31 a bottle – it was good but you could buy it at Sam’s Club for $10. There was one dress-up night but only 10% of the people dressed-up. You could wear shorts to the dinning room every night.

We didn’t go to any of the shows or late night lounges. However, when the bars closed around 5am we could hear all the loud drunks talking in the hallway.

We didn’t go on any shore trips organized by the ship – the cruise was a means of attending my nephew’s 50th B’day party and going birdwatching; i.e., we organized our own shore trips!

In Nassau (New Providence Island) on Nov 16 we arranged for Carolyn Wardle (bahamasoutdoors@yahoo.com 242-457-0329) to be our birding guide. Carolyn has lived on the island for 40 years and really knew where to find the birds.

Carolyn picked us up at the cruise port at 11am and took us first to Paradise Island for a stop at Twin Lakes where we had great views of White-cheeked Pintails and a Red-legged Thrush. We stopped at the Montagu Foreshore for gulls, terns, and shorebirds on the way to St Augustine's Monastery where we found a Greater Antillean Bullfinch (the picture in Birds of the West Indies does not do justice to how good looking this bird is – it looks more like the Puerto Rican Bullfinch), La Sagra's Flycatcher, Loggerhead Kingbird, and a distant look at a Western Spindalis.

We stopped at the Bahama Art & Handcraft store on Shirley Street where Cuban Grassquits are known to hangout – we also bought a beautiful Whelk Shell bracelet.

We stopped at the Bahamas Botanical Gardens for a picnic lunch where we heard, then saw flying, a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo. Later we found a Thick-billed Vireo and White-crowned Pigeon before the park closed at 3pm.

We drove over to Baha Mar Lake near where the giant $3 billion Baha Mar resort is under construction and found 2 Caribbean Coots, heard a Least Bittern, and saw several Least Grebes.

On the way to Carolyn’s house we found a Smooth-billed Ani and Cuban Pewee in native bush. In the feeders of Carolyn’s garden we found several Bahama Woodstars, a Bananaquit, and a Black-faced Grassquit.

Darkness ended a great day of birding in which we saw 54 Bird Species, including 16 Bahamas Specialty Birds.

In Freeport (Grand Bahamas) on Nov 17 we had arranged for Erika Gates – (erikagatesgb@aol.com 242-373-2485) to be our birding guide. Erika has lived on the island for 30 years and is incredibly passionate about wildlife. Hurricane Sandy passed over Grand Bahamas and stripped the trees of leaves, but 3-weeks later you would never know anything much had happened.

Erika picked us up at the cruise port at 8:30am. Our first stop was a duck pond in a remote area of the Emerald Gold Course where we saw some White-cheeked Pintails, Black-necked Stilt, Blue-winged/ Green-winged/ Cinnamon Teals, a pair of migratory Northern Shovelers, and a Lesser Yellowlegs.

At the nearby Reef Golf Course we checked out some of the 11 ponds and found 8 Yellow-crowned Night-Herons and a Merlin in a dead tree.

On the way to St Georges Memorial Park we found 5 Monk Parakeets in an apartment complex. On the nature walk at the park we had a close-up and prolonged encounter with a beautiful Western Spindalis – aka Stripe-headed Tanager.

We stopped at the Garden of the Groves for a terrific lunch at the restaurant. We saw 31 bird species here including the Cuban Pewee, La Sagra's Flycatcher, Loggerhead Kingbird, Red-legged Thrush, West Indian Whistling-Duck, Zenaida Dove, Black-throated Blue Warbler, and heard a Louisiana Waterthrush.

We finished the day in the native bush bird sanctuary at Erika’s house. On the flowers and water features we had an extreme close-up with a Cuban Emerald, watched a Thick-billed Vireo, found a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and saw a Yellow-throated Warbler. Erika said we would have seen a Painted Bunting, Worm-eating Warbler and Banaquit if we could have stayed a little later, but we had to get back to the ship.

Darkness again ended a great day of birding in which we saw 58 Bird Species, including 12 Bahamas Specialty Birds.

Summary

In 2 days in the Bahamas we saw 81 Bird Species, including 18 Bahamas Specialty Birds. To see the remaining Bahamas Specialty Birds, Erica said we would need to go to Abaco and Andros Islands.

Species Name Nassau Freeport Comment Status
American Coot Y Y
American Kestrel Y Y
American Redstart Y Y
Bahama Woodstar Y Specialty Endemic
Bananaquit Y Specialty
Belted Kingfisher Y
Black-and-white Warbler Y Y
Black-bellied Plover Y
Black-crowned Night-Heron Y
Black-faced Grassquit Y Specialty
Black-necked Stilt Y
Black-throated Blue Warbler Y
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Y
Blue-winged Teal Y Y
Cape May Warbler Y Y
Caribbean Coot Y Specialty Near-threatened
Cinnamon Teal Y
Common Gallinule Y Y
Common Ground-Dove Y Y
Common Yellowthroat Y
Cuban Emerald Y Specialty
Cuban Grassquit Y Specialty Introduced species
Cuban Pewee Y Y Specialty
Double-crested Cormorant Y
Eurasian Collared-Dove Y Y Introduced species
Gray Catbird Y
Great Black-backed Gull Y
Great Blue Heron Y
Great Egret Y Y
Greater Antillean Bullfinch Y Specialty
Green Heron Y
Green-winged Teal Y
Herring Gull Y Y
House Sparrow Y Y Introduced species
Killdeer Y
La Sagra's Flycatcher Y Y Specialty
Laughing Gull Y Y
Least Bittern Y
Least Grebe Y Y
Lesser Black-backed Gull Y
Lesser Yellowlegs Y
Loggerhead Kingbird Y Y Specialty
Louisiana Waterthrush Y
Merlin Y
Monk Parakeet Y Specialty Introduced species
Mourning Dove Y
Neotropic Cormorant Y
Northern Mockingbird Y Y
Northern Parula Y Y
Northern Shoveler Y
Northern Waterthrush Y
Osprey Y Y
Ovenbird Y Y
Palm Warbler Y Y
Peregrine Falcon Y
Pied-billed Grebe Y Y
Prairie Warbler Y Y
Red-legged Thrush Y Y Specialty
Red-winged Blackbird Y
Ring-billed Gull Y Y
Ring-necked Duck Y
Rock Pigeon Y Introduced species
Rose-breasted Grosbeak Y
Royal Tern Y
Ruddy Turnstone Y
Semipalmated Plover Y
Smooth-billed Ani Y Y
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Y Introduced species
Summer Tanager Y
Thick-billed Vireo Y Y Specialty
Turkey Vulture Y
West Indian Whistling-Duck Y Specialty Vulnerable
Western Spindalis Y Y Specialty
White-cheeked Pintail Y Y Specialty
White-crowned Pigeon Y Y Specialty Near-threatened
Wilson's Snipe Y
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Y
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron Y
Yellow-throated Warbler Y Y
Zenaida Dove Y Specialty