NASSAU, BAHAMAS – A successful bird count in Grand Bahama this weekend has quashed concerns over Hurricane Dorian’s impact on bird populations.
An Audubon Christmas Bird Count has been held on island for some 20 years, and this year organizers set out to predict the effects of climate change and assess its impact on bird populations.
Local birder Erika Gates said she was saddened to discover the havoc wreaked by the storm one month post-Dorian.
“Very few of our resident birds had survived out east, especially those that depended on the Caribbean Pine forest and Hardwood Coppice like the Bahama and Olive-capped Warbler, Loggerhead Kingbird and Cuban Peewee, the Hairy Woodpecker, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Black-faced Grassquit.”
“Arriving winter migrants would have inspected the non-existent habitats, vegetation and food courses and most likely continued on south,” she said.
As for the western end of the island, she explained that two teams were dispersed and observed a total 71 species, some of which were notably rare.
“There were several rare species to report as well, like Gadwall, Mottled Duck, Whimbrel, American Pipit, American Oystercatcher, Snow Goose.”
Four teams set out for the count of the central Grand Bahama birding sites.
Of those 25 sites, Bates revealed that the most productive areas were “Lewis Yard wetlands, Emerald Golf Course pond, Reef Golf Course, LIS wetlands, Taino Trail, Garden of the Groves, Barbary Beach, Rand Nature Centre, Pine tree Stables and the Gates’ Bird Sanctuary”.
She added: “By sunset our hopes had been restored that the catastrophic Dorian had failed to wipe out Grand Bahamas’ beautiful feathered friends and that many of our resident and migratory species as well as their habitat had shown tremendous resilience!”
“All four teams were happy with an amazing count of 93 species for the Freeport area, almost coming close to previous years which tallied anywhere between 95 to 110.”
AccThe first Christmas Bird Count was held on December 25th in the year 1900 in the U.S. until then it had been a tradition for persons that liked the outdoors to engage in the Christmas Bird Hunt.
The count now includes all Canadian Provinces, the Caribbean, Bahamas, South America and several Pacific islands.