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Stilt Sandpipers

For our second VCHT Bird Walk (actually, we do a bit of driving too,) 14 birders met on the Malecon where we saw and identified 4 species: 3 Eurasian Collared Doves, 3 Royal Terns, 1 Magnificent Frigatebird, 3 Brown Pelicans. In the distance, we could see two flocks of small unidentifiable shorebirds. Because we could not ID them, we count them as “peeps”.

At our first stop, just inside the entrance to Sun Bay, we had a distant view of 1 Scaly-naped Pigeon, 2 Grey Kingbirds, and 1 Antillean Crested Hummingbird. Suddenly the rain came. We scrambled into our cars and drove to the East end of Sun Bay Beach.

By the time we got there, the shower had passed. We left the cars and headed to the Salitral, i.e. lagoon. On the way we saw 1 Brown Pelican and heard a call which was identified by Merlin as a Northern Waterthrush, a warbler that is occasionally seen here during the winter. Most of us missed it, but Mike had a glimpse of a Semipalmated Sandpiper.

We never know what we will see in the Salitral. Today we were in luck. Chuck immediately spotted a Clapper Rail, a large, chicken-like bird. Clapper Rails are shy shorebirds that skulk along the water’s edge and usually are seen only for a moment. This one provided good views for almost everyone. Dozens of smaller birds clustered in groups of 10 to 15 along the edge of the lagoon so intent on feeding that they paid no attention to us. We counted 57 of what we thought were Greater/Lesser Yellowlegs. In all the years we have done these walks, we had never witnessed that behavior of Yellowlegs. Fortunately, Rob had taken several photos which we posted on eBird. When Daphne Gemmill, the island bird lady, saw them she convinced us that we were mistaken. They are Stilt Sandpipers. (see her explanation below). * Farther out in the lagoon we saw 2 White-cheeked Pintail Ducks and 3 Brown Pelicans. In the top of nearby mangroves, we counted 3 Smooth-billed Ani. Another shower started so we left and hiked to a small fresh water pond at the East end of Sun Bay.

At the small fresh water pond, we had excellent views of 9 Black-necked Stilts and 3 Lesser Yellowlegs.

We thank you all who came on the walk, got a little wet, yet showed sincere interest in the birds. Thanks to Rob’s photos, Daphne helped us correctly ID some birds. As a rose is a rose, a bird by any other name is a bird, and the Sun Bay Lagoon is a very important habitat for endemic and migrating birds.

Thanks for supporting the Trust. We have several more walks scheduled between now and the end of March. The next one is January 24.  Join us again if you can. Follow us on Facebook, and check out the Trust’s website:


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