Thursday, March 8, 2012

12 Lifers and a Flamingo

On Saturday, I arrived in the US Virgin Islands for a week long vacation with my wife's family. Although there are no endemic birds on St John, I have never birded in the Caribbean so there are plenty of lifers for me to see.

Yesterday, my wife and I decided to head out early and do some birding at Francis Bay in St John. We arrived around 8:30am and immediately set off on the Francis Bay Trail down to a salt pond. We had barely started down the trail when a Mangrove Cuckoo flew right over our heads! It was a very long overdue lifer for me!

Mangrove Cuckoo

We then came upon a small group of warblers all of which I am used to seeing in Indiana during the spring and summer but it is always fun to get to see them on their wintering grounds. As we were standing on the first platform that overlooks the salt pond, a man came up and asked if we had seen "it" yet. We had no idea what "it" was. As it turns out, there had been a flamingo in the area for the past several days and it had even made the front page of the local paper! No one is quite sure where the flamingo came from because it is not banded, but it is likely either from the introduced population in the British Virgin Islands or from a wild population on an island about 75 miles away.

After seeing quite a few more life birds including the extremely awesome White-cheeked Pintail, we started to head back up the trail. When we came to an overlook, I decided to climb down a few boulders to get a better view of the pond. After only moving about 15 feet, I saw a huge pink bird on the far end of the pond! It looked like we could get a better view by taking a little tiny path through the mangroves so we set off for that trail. When we got to the waters edge, we couldn't believe that we were only about 50 yards from the flamingo!

American Flamingo

American Flamingo

We had a fantastic day out on the trails and will be heading to another salt pond tomorrow to do some more birding! As of right now, I am at 12 lifers for the trip.

-Rob

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