Garden of the Groves initiates First Caribbean Water bird Census on Grand Bahama Island

The Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds (SCSCB) has started a new region-wide water bird and wetland monitoring program called the Caribbean Water bird Census (CWC), the Nassau Guardian reports. The goal of this program is to learn more about the distribution, status, and abundance of water birds in the Caribbean, the Bahamas and Bermuda.

Garden of the Groves and members of the Grand Bahama Birding Group have participated in the first two counts on January 22 and 29. The site for the counts was the Reef Golf Course which has 11 ponds that provide excellent habitats for resident and migratory birds.

Numbers of species recorded on the first Saturday were 29 with the same number on the second Saturday, although there were several different species.

All participants shared the responsibility in counting after identifying the birds, calling the numbers out to the two diligent recorders, Sarah Knowles and Jill Cooper. Jill has been an enthusiastic birder for only a few years but has observed and recorded more birds on her personal “life list” than most local birders. Sarah also volunteered to record each species by the American Ornithology Union standard abbreviation, the species alpha code. She had to research these codes for more than 40 birds.

Duncan Mullis, a recently graduated student from Garden of the Groves’ “Basic Birding Class of 2010” was charged with the responsibility of submitting the collected data to, a database developed by Cornell University. Duncan is a wizard at e.bird and recently re-designed, amended and updated the Grand Bahama Bird checklist.

Dr. Lisa Sorenson of Boston University and President of SCSCB, who advised the group in its first census, remarked that she was delighted that the Grand Bahama Birding Group initiated the Caribbean Water bird Census on this island and indicated that the group will provide valuable information for the CWC database that serves as an important tool for scientists, natural resource managers and conservationists.

“It was a wonderful new project for our Grand Bahama birders and we are committed to its continuity in order to assist SCSCB with their Caribbean CWC program. We will be conducting a summer CWC as well as a fall survey as SCSCB recommends in order to establish trends in increases or declines of water birds populations,” commented Erika Gates of Garden of the Groves.

The Belted Kingfisher with her red “belt” was another enjoyable sight during the Census. This is one of the species where the female sports a more colorful plumage than the male!

During the second Saturday of the winter census all participants were able to add a new species of “lifer” to their personal lists. A Western Kingbird, a rare migrant to Grand Bahama, could be observed snatching insects on pond # 11 and devouring them on his perch.

For the original report go to

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