Happy Superb Owl Sunday, everyone! For me, it was last Sunday, when I went out to Jamaica Bay to look for Snowy Owls.
I was a little worried about finding any, even though they are reported daily there. It was foggy, with intermittent rain, and visibility wasn't great. But I went down the West Pond trail, straight out from the visitor center, and a little past where the breach from Hurricane Sandy was, I looked up in the trees and stopped dead in my tracks.
I hadn't expected an owl (a) roosting in a tree (b) so close to the trail. I figured I'd have to scan the mudflats through the fog.
Instead, here was an owl in pain sight in a tree not 50 feet off the trail. Easy!
Eventually, I continued down the trail...and 100 feet further on, another owl! In another tree right off the trail! This one was hanging out next to an old Osprey nest.
Both these owls continued giving great views to a bunch of people all day.
The West Pond, by the way, is really beginning to look good. There were a large number of ducks with a good variety of species. After the breach was filled in, it took a while to pump out the brackish water enough to make it attractive again to fresh-water species. It seems to be working, though.
The hotel we stayed at (Comfort Suites Paradide ISland) was also close to a little mall. (Let me take a moment here to recommend Anthony's Caribbean Bar & Grill. Delicious food and the prices are not bad for the Bahamas.) It was just a strip mall, but there were still birds in and around it. The White-Crowned Pigeon I spotted perched by the ScotiaBank was my 300th life bird.
not wary of people
The White-Crowned Pigeon is the national game bird of the Bahamas, so you'd think they'd be more wary of people; but no. Also, there's a huge statue of one on the road to the airport. I did not get a photo of that, but trust me, you want to see a ten-foot-tall pigeon.
The street trees on the road next to the mall had a variety of birds passing through them. I was most surprised by this Loggerhead Kingbird.
I spotted Yellow-Throated Warblers in those trees as well. They were also in the trees on the hotel property and near other buildings.
support your local Woodstar
The Bahama Woodstar hummingbird was quite widespread. This one was feeding on a tree at the hotel.
So, New Providence has Rock Pigeons, of course, and we've seen the native White-Crowned Pigeon and the exotic Pied-Imperial Pigeon; but also, there were Eurasian Collard-Doves everywhere. They were practically the first bird we saw when we arrived and sat down at the hotel bar for lunch.
Everywhere you went, there they were. It's a little surprising that they coexist with the Rock Pigeons, they seem to have adopted the exact same niche.
turnstone and trash
One of the features of the hotel was that guests can use the beaches at the Atlantis resort. We spent a pleasant afternoon there. The beach was fairly quiet--it was in the low 70s F, so maybe a little cool for many beachgoers--and there were some birds around. The best one was this lone Ruddy Turnstone who walked the beach like he owned it.
surf 'n' turnstone
Up here, we only see Turnstones at a great distance, huddled on the rocky shores of islands in the harbor or on the East River. It was quite shocking to have one just walk right up to us.
There were pigeons hanging out on the beach as well, and of course gulls. The Lesser Black-Backed Gulls were actually a life bird for me. Somehow I had never seen one in New York, although they are not unknown; in fact, I would say that was the most embarrassing hole on my life list.
gull and turnstone
There were other gulls on the beach as well, mostly Herring Gulls, occasionally trying to steal food from children. In fairness, the kids seemed to be deliberately teasing the birds. Mostly, though, they were just loafing. Like us.
One more species I want to mention is Palm Warbler, who were pretty common in urban-type settings, behaving like House Sparrows in the mall, around the hotel, and this one on a restaurant deck at the airport.