Bird-Watching in Bermuda
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Forty species of warblers have been spotted in Bermuda, especially in the casuarina trees along the south shore and West End. Other omnipresent species include kiskadee, swifts, cuckoos, flycatchers, swallows, thrushes, kingbirds, and orioles. Bird conservation is a big deal in Bermuda. You can see bluebird boxes on every island golf course, which act as safe nesting sites for this jeopardized species, threatened by development and the invasive sparrow.
The largest variety of birds can be spotted during fall migration, when thousands of birds pass overhead, stop for a rest on their way south, or spend the winter on the island. You might spot the rare American avocet or the curlew sandpiper. In spring look for brightly colored Central and South American birds migrating north. The white-tail tropicbird, a beautiful white bird with black markings and a 12- to 17-inch-long tail (locals call it a "longtail"), is one of the first to arrive. Summer is the quietest season for bird-watching in Bermuda. Late migrants, like the barn swallow and chimney swift pass by, and if you check the ponds you may see the occasional shorebird.
Bermuda Audubon Society. The society has an excellent book called A Birdwatching Guide to Bermuda, by president Andrew Dobson, published by the Arlequin Press. In it are maps, illustrations, and descriptions of birds and their habitats. They also sell a special DVD featuring Nonsuch Island for $20. Several birding events are organized throughout the year, including the Christmas Bird Count—Bermuda averages 74 species per count, although 200 species have been recorded. You can find a listing of the Audubon Society's events on their Web site as well as a bird-watching checklist. Birders may also be interested in David Wingate's successful efforts to repopulate the native cahow bird population via artificial burrows on Nonsuch Island. 441/238–8628. www.audubon.bm.
Seymour's Pond Nature Reserve. Seymour's Pond is smaller than Warwick and Spittal Ponds, but it has the advantage of being a bit farther inland, and therefore better protected. Twenty-eight species of duck are recorded in Bermuda and you're quite likely to see many of them here. Middle Rd., near Barnes Corner Park, Southampton Parish, SN04.
Spittal Pond Nature Reserve. Stretching placidly within a 60-acre nature reserve, Spittal Pond is an excellent place to view wildlife, especially birds. As long as the water level is not too high, some 30 species of shorebird can be present on the margins of the pond. On a good day in September you might see more than 100 birds. Semipalmated sandpipers are perhaps the most abundant. In winter, herons and egrets roost serenely in the shallow water. You can tour the reserve unaccompanied, or take a scheduled tour with a park ranger. Don't forget your camera if you take one of the great coastal nature trails. South Rd., Smith's Parish, FL05. 441/236–5902.
Warwick Pond. In a well-kept inland nature preserve, Bermuda's only natural freshwater pond is prime bird territory. Shorebirds and herons gather around its edges in fall and winter. Note: In the heat of summer, the stagnant water lets off a rather putrid smell. Middle Rd., near Ettrick Animal Hospital, Warwick Parish, WK06.
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