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Twenty birders met at 7:30 a.m. on the Malecon for the fourth VCHT Bird Walk.  There we found four species: 1 scaly-naped Pigeon, 1 Zenaida Dove, 1Pearly-eyed Thrasher, and a hummingbird that we couldn’t ID. From there we headed directly to the Salitral (Sun Bay Lagoon). Luck was with us; the only downpour occurred while we were in the cars.

Again, we witnessed the importance of the lagoon. Flocks of Stilt Sandpipers probed the bottom for insects and small mollusks. Using our method of counting by groups of ten, we estimated 72 Stilt Sandpipers. On the left shore, 3 Blue-winged Teal cruised behind dead mangrove stumps. Near a mangrove island 1 Lesser Yellowlegs picked for food.  Farther out  2 Great Egrets, 1 Snowy Egret, and 1 Little Blue Heron  stood patiently waiting to snatch a morsel. Far across the lagoon approximately 120 peeps flew up and landed again. (Shorebirds we can see but cannot positively ID, we call peeps).  1 Magnificent Frigatebird circled overhead. 

Silt Sandpipers

Stilt Sandpipers feeding

Snowy Egret.                                          Greater Yellowlegs

Generally speaking  Clapper Rails are shy birds seen only briefly stepping through mangrove roots on the edge of the lagoon. Today 2 Clapper Rails were not shy. They provided unusual views as they walked and swam nonchalantly a few yards away from us.

Clapper Rail

Surrounded by mangrove forest, Sun Bay Lagoon is rich habitat for more than water birds. While there on the beach, we observed 2 Smooth-billed Ani, 2 Mangrove Cuckoos, 1 Antillean Crested Hummingbird, 1 Loggerhead Kingbird and 1 Greater Antillean Grackle.

We left the lagoon and walked to a small fresh water pond officially called as Laguna Patito Sendero where we had nice views of 2 White-cheeked Pintail Ducks, 4 Black-necked Stilts, 1 Spotted Sandpiper and 3 Lesser Yellows.

White-cheeked Pintail Ducks

Black Necked Silt

Spotted Sandpiper

Lesser Yellowlegs

Laguna Patito Sendero in the Bio Bay Natural Reserve that VCHT co-manages.

Sun Bay Lagoon hosts a variety of avian life, some migratory and some endemic. In the spring Stilt Sandpipers and Yellowlegs will migrate thousands of miles to the tundra to breed and then return. Spotted Sandpipers and Blue-wing Teal will spread out across northern U.S and Canada. Clapper Rails may stay in Vieques or go marshy areas on the east coast of the U.S. White-cheeked Pintails Ducks, Black-necked Stilts, hummingbirds, doves, and Mangrove e Cuckoos generally stay here stay year-round. Indeed, Salitral is an important bird habitat.

Thanks for joining us on today’s walk. We enjoyed helping you see the birds and answering your questions the best we can. Bird populations are in decline, especially shorebirds, because of loss of habitat. We are doing what we can to promote understanding of, interest in, and conservation of birds.

Thanks for supporting the Trust. We have more walks scheduled between now and the end of March:  February 7, February 21, March 6, and March 20. Join us again if you can. Follow us on Facebook, and check out the Trust’s website:

VCHT Birding Team

Chuck, Mike, Marie, Olga, Priscilla, Dale, and Rob on camera

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