Vieques Conservation and Historical Society Bird Walk
February 3, 2019
Daphne Gemmill led the walk along with Dale and Priscilla Douchette. Twelve people gathered at the Trust at 7:30 am. During the morning outing we saw 19 species.
The highlight was an American Wigeon on the fresh water pond off route 977 at 4.7 km. This sighting was the first winter record for this duck and the fourth record for Vieques. Also on the same pond was a Pied-billed Grebe, which also rare on the island but not as rare as the wigeon. The first bird of the morning was a Eurasian Collared Dove on a tree behind the Trust building. This species was first reported on Vieques in December 2014 in Isabel Segunda. It has since spread to Esperanza. The presence of this species in the New World derived from 50 birds that were released from captivity in Nassau, Bahamas in 1974 and had spread far and wide from Alaska to Panama. Other birds seen in Esperanza were Belted Kingfisher, Royal Tern, Gray Kingbird, and Pearly-eyed Thrasher. The second stop of the morning was the trail to Laguna Petita on the eastern side of Ensenada Sombe. Few birds were signing and not many were visible. Overall bird numbers on the island appear to be low since Hurricane Maria in September 2017.
We did manage to see or hear the following: Brown Pelican over the bay, White-winged Dove, Zenaida Dove, Yellow Warbler, and Adelaide’s Warbler, a Puerto Rican endemic. The last stop was the fresh water pond mentioned above. This pond as one of the few fresh water sources on the island is birding hot spot. You can usually count on seeing birds here. It did not disappoint with a flock of 62 Blue-winged Teal and 32 Whitecheeked Pintail, formerly called Bahama Duck. Other birds were the Pied-billed Grebe, Great Egret and Cattle Egret, Red-tailed Hawk, Common Gallinule, and Black-necked Stilt. We started slowly but ended with a bang
Daphne’s Bird-a-thon and Big Day Report Daphne set out on Wednesday May 9, 2018 to raise money for the Trust and to establish a Big Day record, both first for Vieques.
Her goal was 40 species for this time of year. She ended the day at 39. She raised over $2,000 for the Trust. Her report follows. As the alarm was ringing at 4:30 am, a Pearly-eyed Thrasher was already singing. Of the Vieques birds this bird is the first to wake up and the last to go to bed. As dawn broke Gray Kingbirds started to sing followed by Zenaida and White-winged Doves. My good start did not last long as storm clouds gathered. I headed out in rain and wind, neither good for seeing birds. By the time I reached the electric boat ramp at Puerto Mosquito, the rain stopped and by 7 am the sun broke through. I added 10 species to my day list. On my way to Playuela, or Garcia Beach for the old timers, I was excited to see a Puerto Rican Woodpecker. In fact I saw several during the day. They did not fare well after Hurricane Hugo and took several years to return to the island. At Playuela, I added Green Heron and White-crowned Pigeon to the list. I dash across the island and up to the top of Mt. Pirata. The new bird for the list was a Red-tailed Hawk with a juvenile begging for food. A brief stop at Mosquito Pier produced Laughing Gull, Royal Tern, and Brown Pelican. I ended the morning with 29 species. Next stop was lunch. During lunch, I plotted targeted species. Puerto Ferro for Wilson’s Plover; Isabel Segunda for Rock Pigeon and Eurasian Collared-Dove, a recent arrival from other Caribbean islands where caged birds were released to the wild; Playa Grande for nesting Least Terns, shorebirds; and White-cheeked Pintail; and the fresh water pond on Rt. 997 at km maker 4.7 for a pair of Pied-billed Grebes. I found all of my target birds. In addition I stop at an old warehouse across from the entrance to the eastern portion of the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge to look at a puddle that forms after heavy rains and attracts birds. Here I found a Killdeer. My last bird for the day was Pied-billed Grebe. A full list of species seen is attached. The biggest miss for the day was no hummingbird. I have yet to see a hummingbird in my six days on the island. I also do not see many native plants blooming so their food source has yet to recover. The two hummingbirds disappeared from the island after Hugo and took many years to come back. I plan to write a second report on my impressions of the impact of Hurricane Irma and Maria on the island’s bird life at the end of my visit. A copy will be sent to you at that time. Thank you for sponsoring me in helping the Trust continue its worthwhile work under trying circumstances. Every dollar helps!
Birding with the Trust
March 11, 2020
This is a Citizen Science activity and all observations are reported on eBird. We are happy to share this eBird list with any participant who provides an eBird account name and email address.
The number of birds is as accurate as possible.
Dale and Priscilla Doucette, Jeff Mendoza and Chuck Sklar
Marjorie Bloom, Jane Hackenburg, Joyce Joffa, Justin John, Danial Lombardo, Cynthia Nicholson and Barbara Toll
The trip began at 7:30 a.m. in front of the Trust in Esperanza where we saw :
5 Royal Terns
Next traveled to the entrance of Sun Bay where we saw:
2 Gray Kingbirds
3 Annies 2 Turkey Vultures
1 Northern Mockingbird
2 Greater Antillean Grackles
1 Gray Kingbird
1 Loggerheaded Kingbird
We drove to the east end of Sun Bay and walked into the salt flat behind the beach where we saw:
7 Greater Yellowlegs
1 Belted Kingfisher
2 Caribbean Grackles
15 Brown Pelicans (Most were roosting the trees at the far end of the lagoon.)
17 Great Egrets (Most were roosting in trees at the far end, but some were beginning land in the water to feed.)
4 Magnificent Frigatebirds circled over the water.
After having a drink and a snack, we drove to Media Luna and walked a short distance toward Navio for our final observation point. At the lagoon on the left, we saw:
6 Black-necked Stilts.
2 Yellow Warblers
We ended our trip at 9:30.
This was the final Birding with the Trust event of the 2020 season. Thanks for joining us and supporting the Trust.
Birds are the Canary in the cage for all of us.
Vieques First Bird-a-thon and Big Day May 9, 2018
1. White-cheeked Pintail 28. Caribbean Elaenia
2. Pied-billed Grebe 29. Gray Kingbird
3. Brown Pelican 30. Loggerhead Kingbird
4. Great Egret 31. Northern Mockingbird
5. Snowy Egret 32. Pearly-eyed Thrasher
6. Cattle Egret 33. Yellow Warbler
7. Green Heron 34. Adelaide’s Warbler
8. Red-tailed Hawk 35. Bananaquit
9. Common Moorhen 36. Black-faced Grassquit
10. Wilson’s Plover 37. Greater Antillean Grackle
11. Killdeer 38. Shiny Cowbird
12. Black-necked Stilt 39. House Sparrow
13. Yellowlegs species
14. Small shorebirds or peeps species
15. Laughing Gull
16. Royal Tern
17. Least Tern
18. Rock Pigeon
19. Scaly-naped Pigeon
20. White-crowned Pigeon
21. Eurasian Collared-Dove
22. White-winged Dove
23. Zenaida Dove
24. Common Ground Dove
25. Mangrove Cuckoo
26. Smooth-billed Ani
27. Puerto Rican Woodpecker