Bird Report – Alan Vittery
REPORT ON BEHALF OF THE ST. CHRISTOPHER HERITAGE SOCIETY:
THE ORNITHOLOGICAL AND ECOLOGICAL IMPORTANCE OF WETLAND SITES
AND THE ECO-TOURISM POTENTIAL OF BIRDS IN ST. KITTS
1. I visited St. Kitts (privately) for two weeks from 11 – 25 November 2006, during which time I made an intensive study of the birds of the southern part of the island, concentrating principally on the ‘salt ponds’. I also made three visits to the ‘rain forest’ to the west of the mountain range, north of Basseterre. Having studied the limited ornithological literature relevant to St. Kitts, I was very surprised at the variety and numbers of migrating North American shorebirds using the salt lagoons so late in the migration season, as well as the numbers of ‘uncommon’ Caribbean species present. The latter included regionally significant counts of Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus and the endangered White-cheeked Pintail Anas bahamensis, a species restricted to the Caribbean.
2. The salt lagoon complex is, on the basis of the numbers of waterfowl and shorebirds seen, internationally important and undoubtedly qualifies for ‘Ramsar’ designation (‘The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat’ adopted in Ramsar, Iran in 1971). As Britain signed the Convention on behalf of those countries for which it still retained responsibility for foreign affairs, St. Kitts & Nevis is probably (technically) already a signatory, but post-Independence formalisation might be necessary if this has not already been done. As water levels vary from year to year (and some ponds dry out altogether in periods of drought) a composite site designation would be preferable, as migratory birds require alternative ‘refuelling stations’ in different conditions.
3. A number of North American land birds, considered to be rare in the Lesser Antilles, were added to the St. Kitts bird list, demonstrating the island’s potential as a migration hot-spot, attracting both species ‘island hopping’ to wintering quarters in South America and others ‘overshooting’ their normal wintering range in the northern and central Caribbean. Many more of these migrants would be likely in September and, particularly, October. Smaller numbers should also occur in March/April.
4. The prospect of finding rare migrants is a major attraction to many bird-watchers, and the possibility of doing this on a ‘paradise’ island ideal for a family holiday greatly increases that attraction! This fairly unusual combination can certainly be exploited by the island’s tourist industry, provided the ‘unspoilt’ character of the island is maintained and key sites are protected from intrusive development. Local bird/wildlife guides could be trained, over time, to assist independent visitors – a system which works well (and provides useful employment) in, e.g., Trinidad and Tobago and The Gambia. A proposal for more specific ‘bird tourism’ is outlined in paragraph 26 below.
5. I was intrigued to learn from the two resident birdwatchers, Percival Hanley and Michael Ryan, that an endemic red-capped bullfinch, thought to be extinct since the 1920s, probably still exists in the high forest on the volcano. Confirmation of the existence of this bird, which would almost certainly be a full species (not a sub-species of the Puerto Rican Bullfinch Loxigilla portoricensis, as previously thought) would give the island a high-profile national bird and put St. Kitts firmly on the ornithological map. Serious ‘listers’ from North America and Europe would then add significantly to the number of visiting bird-watchers.
The Salt Ponds
6. At the time of my visit the salt ponds at Frigate Bay and Cockleshell Bay held the largest numbers of water birds, but Half Moon Pond, Muddy Point Pond, Friars Bay Pond, the Great and Little Salt Ponds and Major’s Bay Pond also attracted many interesting species. Friars Bay Pond is particularly important for other reasons (see paragraph 11 below). Greatheads Salt Pond has been seriously damaged by run-off from adjacent quarrying and cement works. I am informed that it used to be the best pond on the island for water birds and remedial measures (such as an impervious bund between the industrial area and the pond) should be considered. The mangroves would quickly recover if water quality was restored in this way. The cost of the bund should be borne by the companies concerned, on the principle that ‘the polluter pays’.
Frigate Bay Salt Pond
7. The proximity of this site to the main tourist developments in Frigate Bay represents both a threat and a natural asset. As its future is in Government hands, there is no reason why the asset should not only be preserved, but enhanced to the benefit of tourists and residents alike. I was told of plans to build a boardwalk around the pond. I would strongly advise against facilitating public access to large stretches of the pond side, which would be highly disruptive and costly in terms of both construction and maintenance. Instead I would suggest the creation of short all-weather access paths to four or five simple, open-backed hides at existing viewing points. These need consist of nothing more than wooden ‘blinds’ with viewing slats and bench seating. I am sure they would prove to be a popular tourist attraction and an educational asset for local schoolchildren. Funding support for such a project may be forthcoming from organisations such as Birdlife International, the Audubon Society or the American Fish and Wildlife Service.
8. This remarkable lagoon hosted, on my arrival, over 70 herons and egrets of eight different species, at least 80 Blue-winged Teal Anas discors, 50 Common Moorhens Gallinula chloropusand almost 500 shorebirds of twelve different species, three of which were new to the island! The most numerous species was Black-necked Stilt (250), which is described in the recently published ‘Birds of the West Indies’ as “uncommon in northern Lesser Antilles”! Numbers of shorebirds peaked at over six hundred, including up to 200 Stilt Sandpipers Calidris himantopusduring the next week, when another five different species were recorded. Up to three Soras Porzana carolina from North America and one Clapper Rail Rallus longirostris, a critically endangered species on the island, were also seen. A Tricolored Heron Egretta tricolour was another local rarity.
9. Because of its legal status (in Government ownership), accessibility and rich wildlife, Frigate Bay Salt Pond should be the centrepiece of the Ramsar site if the St. Kitts & Nevis government decided to proceed with designation.
Friars Bay Salt Pond
10. Probably because of very high water levels, the Friars Bay lagoon had few shorebirds during my visit. Waterfowl consisted of a few Common Moorhens and Blue-winged Teal, a pair ofClapper Rails (perhaps the last breeding site on the island) and a pair of White-cheeked Pintail. Two Belted Kingfishers Ceryle alcyon from North America were wintering here. The dense mangroves and surrounding scrub supported a healthy population of land birds, including resident Yellow Warblers Dendroica petechia and wintering Northern Waterthrushes Seiurus noveboracensis. The locally rare Mangrove Cuckoo Coccyzus minor almost certainly occurs here. In the past, at times of lower water levels, this site has attracted many notable migrants. The inaccessibility of the mangroves, which cover more than half of the area, makes it a valuable refuge for breeding species, like Clapper Rail, less tolerant of disturbance. It should certainly be included in the composite Ramsar site.
11. The importance of Friars Bay is not restricted to its wildlife. The lagoon occupies almost the entire width of a narrow, low-lying isthmus, with the beaches of North and South Friar’s Bay on either side. Given current predictions for sea-level rise, the southern peninsula will almost certainly be cut off from the main island during the course of the next few decades. The mangroves are the best form of sea defence. If they are reduced in extent, damaged or destroyed by intrusive development, the inevitable breach will happen sooner rather than later. At present the two tracks to the beach on the Caribbean side of the isthmus are vulnerable to incursion, but these could be protected at modest expense. A road bridge to link the two ‘islands’ would be a much more expensive undertaking!
12. After Frigate Bay Salt Pond, this was the richest bird site on the island with over 400 shorebirds of eleven species and 120 ducks of three species (including up to 22 White-cheeked Pintail – a significant count of this threatened species). At the southern tip, it is well placed to hold migratory birds in autumn which have filtered south through the island before continuing their journey. Development plans for the south-western segment of the bay, which supported fewer water birds, could seriously damage this important site, which merits Ramsar status in its own right and should certainly be included in any composite designation.
13. A build up of raw sewerage, entering pipes through the causeway dividing the south-western and north-eastern segments of the pond, is affecting water quality and should be controlled before it does serious damage.
Major’s Bay Salt Pond
14. At first sight, this sheltered pond on the south coast appeared relatively birdless, but a walk along the southern edge behind the beach revealed over 200 shorebirds (mainly Semi-palmated Sandpipers, Stilt Sandpipers, Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes and Greater Yellowlegs T. melanoleuca) feeding in small, hidden bays. The fringing vegetation also looked good for migratory land birds, although nothing was seen on two separate visits.
Great and Little Salt Ponds
15. The high water level limited the attraction of the Great Salt Pond to shorebirds during my visit but, given its size, its potential as a safe haven for water birds was obvious. Many interesting species, including a vagrant Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber and uncommon wildfowl from North America have been seen here in the past. The shallower Little Salt Pond held an impressive flock of 440 Semi-palmated Sandpipers Calidris pusilla and 45 Least Sandpipers C. minutilla. The surrounds of these (linked) ponds were rich in land birds, including a healthy population of Caribbean Elaenias Elaenia martinica and two rare North American migrants, and attracted migratory birds of prey including Peregrine Falco peregrinus, and Merlin F. columbarius, as well as the resident Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis.
16. The size and relative remoteness of these ponds represent something of an ‘insurance policy’ for water birds denied refuge elsewhere on the island, for whatever reason. As such, they should, if possible, be an integral part of any Ramsar designation.
Half Moon Salt Pond
17. Of the northernmost ponds, this is in the best condition and was attractive to shorebirds and land birds in the surrounding mangroves. The former included, amongst up to 250 individuals of eleven species, two Baird’s Sandpipers Calidris bairdii, a Caribbean rarity, and a Willet Catoptrophorus semipalmatus. The land birds included several Northern Waterthrushes and one or two Louisiana Waterthrushes Seiurus motacilla, as well as the first Veery Catharus fuscescens for the island.
18. The seaward side of this pond is relatively undisturbed. Half Moon Point is favoured by the migratory Black-bellied Plover Pluvialis squatarola (highest count 35) and Semi-palmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus (45), not forgetting the resident Wilson’s Plover C. wilsonia. This site, too, qualifies for inclusion in any Ramsar designation.
19. The recent arrival of White-winged Doves Zenaida asiatica from further west in the Caribbean is another attraction to visiting birdwatchers. At present they are to be found in the village of Conaree, just to the north of the pond, but are likely to spread to other parts of the island.
Muddy Point Salt Pond
20. Although the inland side has been incorporated into the golf course, a good depth of mangrove flanks the south-eastern bank. This held several Great Blue Herons Ardea herodias and a single (European) Grey Heron A. cinerea, the first for the island. A Belted Kingfisher was wintering here and both the migratory Yellow-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus americanus and the resident Mangrove Cuckoo were seen in the surrounding vegetation.
21. Despite regular disturbance (including dumping of waste from the golf course), the adjacent Muddy Point, with its flat, bare areas of mud, was attractive to migratory plovers, including small numbers of Killdeer Charadrius vociferous and American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica. The latter were accompanied by a Pacific Golden Plover P. fulva, the first for the island and a Caribbean vagrant.
The Rain Forest
22. The relatively few resident species in the rain forest include some Lesser Antillean specialities of great interest to visiting birdwatchers, such as Pearly-eyed Thrasher Margarops fuscatus,Scaly-breasted Thrasher M. fuscus, Brown Trembler Cinclocerthia ruficauda, Lesser Antillean Flycatcher Myiarchus oberi, Bridled Quail-Dove Geotrygon mystacea and Scaly-naped Pigeon Columba squamosa. The fringes of this habitat also attract three species of hummingbird and migrants from North America. In the higher, remote areas Lesser Antillean PeweeContopus latirostris and Stolid Flycatcher Myiarchus stolidus have been reported and the Antillean Euphonia Euphonia musica is likely to occur, as well at that bullfinch!
23. Uncontrolled overgrazing by goats and cattle is denuding the south of the southern peninsula of vegetation, reducing the habitat to sparse acacia savannah reminiscent of parts of East Africa. The number of young goats in November suggests the problem will get rapidly worse unless measures are taken to restrict their movements.
24. The population of mongoose, introduced by the British to remove snakes from the sugar cane fields, has reached pest proportions. Having long since exterminated the snakes, they are opportunistic, catholic feeders which will be seriously affecting, among other things, the
breeding success of ground nesting birds such as plovers. It would be worth approaching the World Wildlife Fund for Nature for funds for a study to assess the feasibility of an eradication programme. A study of the impact of the introduced Vervet Monkey on the island’s ecosystem would also be valuable.
25. The final demise of the sugar industry is clearly a problem for the island, both economically and environmentally. The hundreds of acres of cane rotting in the fields are likely to revert quickly to impenetrable scrub. One possibility would be for each village to establish a community woodland, using indigenous species of tree, for recreation, shade and sustainable harvesting. This would benefit both islanders and wildlife, and enhance the aesthetic beauty of the countryside.
26. Organised bird tours are now big business in Europe and North America. As the main ornithological spectacle in St. Kitts is the autumn migration of North American shorebirds (many of which are ‘backyard birds’ to American birders), Europe is probably the best target for bird tourism. Fortunately, the main migration period (September to November) coincides with a low season for tourism, so visits by birdwatchers could help to extend the tourist season. Since returning to Britain I have already spoken to the Editor of the popular British magazine ‘Birdwatch’, Dominic Mitchell, who has expressed interest in reconnoitring the potential of St. Kitts if sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism. (Christine Walwyn, Chief Executive Officer at the St. Kitts Tourism Authority, indicated to me that funds would be available for such a visit.) A feature article and associated holiday offer in ‘Birdwatch’ magazine would stimulate interest amongst other tour operators in Britain and Europe, hopefully leading to a longer-term programme of visits.
27. The proposed reconnaissance by ‘Birdwatch’ magazine might be combined with a serious attempt to relocate the endemic bullfinch, with the help of local guides.
28. The butterflies of St. Kitts are, if anything, more spectacular than the birds, although information on tropical Lepidoptera is hard to obtain. A small pamphlet illustrating the commoner species would be a great help to eco-tourists and the naturally curious.
29. So many Caribbean islands have been spoiled by insensitive development that the retention of St. Kitts’ unspoilt character would undoubtedly attract an ever-increasing number of discerning tourists disenchanted with the depressing uniformity of holiday destinations in the region and world-wide.
30. An annotated list of the birds seen in November 2006 is attached at Annex 1.
I am grateful to Percival L. Hanley, President of the St. Christopher Heritage Society, and Michael Ryan for their advice and encouragement. Christine Walwyn responded to my suggestions on tourism with stimulating enthusiasm. Christian Rameshwar and Sonia Grant helped me to make the necessary local contacts. Not least, the friendly and welcoming people of St. Kitts, who made the writing of this report a labour of love!
(Lifelong ornithologist, author of ‘The Birds of Sutherland’ and many papers/articles on birds; former Head of Site Safeguard Policy at the Nature Conservancy Council of Great Britain, responsible for the protection of Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Ramsar designations in Great Britain)
To: The St. Christopher Heritage Society
cc. Christine Walwyn, St Kitts Tourism Authority
Department of Health and Environment
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (ref. paragraph 2)
Frigate Bay Development Board
Dominic Mitchell, Editor ‘Birdwatch’ magazine, London
BIRDS SEEN IN ST KITTS – 11-25 NOVEMBER 2006 Alan Vittery
Brown Booby Sula leucogaster Up to 20 offshore (Caribbean only); roosting on buoys off Basseterre
Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis Fairly common (all coasts)
Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens Common (mainly Caribbean)
Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias Small nos. most wetlands. Island pop. 20+
Grey Heron A. cinerea One adult Frigate Bay/ Muddy Point ponds,
12 – 22 Nov. First record. (Vagrant from Europe)
American Great Egret A. alba Small nos., mainly Frigate Bay; island pop.10+
Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea Common, most wetlands
Tricolored Heron E. tricolour 1 immature Frigate Bay (golf course pond) 12th.-20th. Second record.
Snowy Egret E. thula Common; up to 25 Frigate Bay S. P.
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis Common; breeding colony north of Basseterre
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax Adult and imm. Frigate Bay; imm. Cockleshell Bay
Yellow-crowned Night Heron Nyctanassa violacea Present most wetlands; island pop. 50+
Green Heron Butorides virescens Only seen Frigate Bay, max. 6 on 14th.
Blue-winged Teal Anas discors Up to 80 Frigate Bay and Cockleshell Bay; several Friars Bay.
White-cheeked Pintail A. bahamensis Up to 22 Cockleshell Bay; pair Friars Bay
Lesser Scaup Aythya affinis Pair Cockleshell Bay from 18th.
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis Ones or twos most days; island pop. 10+
Osprey Pandion haliaetus Two or three most days, mainly fishing in sea; all of migratory N. American race.
American Kestrel Falco sparverius Widespread in small numbers; island pop. 20+
Merlin F. columbarius Several sightings of two or three birds (one female) from 19th.
Peregrine F. peregrinus A large female of the migratory race tundrius present throughout.
Lanner F. biarmicus The most curious sighting of all! A juvenile (female on size) seen at close range twice in the south from 15th, and over the airport on 25th. Darkish brown upperparts typical of Eurasian race feldeggi. (Too dark and too large for vagrant Prairie Falcon (aka ‘American Lanner’); shape and flight typical of biarmicus, which I know well.) Natural occurrence unthinkable, so presumably falconry escape, but no sign of jesses or leather leg strap.
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus Common, wetlands with fringing vegetation.
Clapper Rail Rallus longirostris One flushed from long grass beside Frigate Bay S. P. 14th; pair calling Friars Bay 17th/18th.
Sora Porzana carolina Up to 3 Frigate Bay and 1 Muddy Pt. S. P.
Helmeted Guineafowl Numida meleagris Feral. 12 Cockleshell beach 23rd.
Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus Regionally important counts of 250 Frigate Bay and 200 Cockleshell Bay. Island pop. 500+
American Avocet Recurvirostra americana 1 with stilts, Frigate Bay, throughout. First record (Caribbean vagrant)
Black-bellied (Grey) Plover Pluvialis squatarola Small nos. most wetlands; 35 Half Moon Point on 13th.
American Golden Plover P. dominica 3 Muddy Point 12th., one (in partial summer plumage, with damaged leg) staying until 22nd. (photographed by P L Hanley)
Pacific Golden Plover P. fulva 1 in partial summer plumage joined the injured dominica on 16th. and was still present on 24th. having moulted rapidly. First record (Caribbean vagrant; photographed by P L Hanley)
Killdeer Charadrius vociferous Up to 10 Muddy Point/Frigate Bay (north – land clearance site) 12th.- 16th.; up to 5 from 18th.-20th; 1 Muddy Point 24th.
Wilson’s Plover C. wilsonia Parties of up to 13 on quieter beaches; 10 Cockleshell Bay 23rd.
Semi-palmated Plover C. semipalmatus 45 Half Moon Point 13th; small nos. most wetlands, with 15 Muddy Point pond 16th; but no more than 2/day after19th.
Snowy (Kentish) Plover C. alexandrinus 2 imms. Sand Bank Bay 15th.
Sanderling Calidris alba 4 Half Moon Point 13th.; 1 Major’s Bay pond 23rd.
Western Sandpiper C. mauri Uncommon. Up to 3 on only four dates.
Semi-palmated Sandpiper C. pusilla Up to 60 Frigate Bay and smaller nos. most wetlands; flock of 440 Little Salt Pond + 220 Major’s Bay Pond 23rd.
Least Sandpiper C. minutilla Up to 40 Frigate Bay, decreasing sharply after 16th; 45 Little Salt Pond 23rd.; small nos. elsewhere.
Baird’s Sandpiper C. bairdii 2 juveniles arrived from N. at Half Moon Pond 24th. and began feeding in salicornia. First record (Caribbean rarity)
Pectoral Sandpiper C. melanotus One Frigate Bay 12th./13th.; 1 Cockleshell Bay 18th.-21st. and 2 there on 23rd.
Stilt Sandpiper Micropalama himantopus Although described as “uncommon” in ‘Birds of the West Indies’, this was, surprisingly, the most numerous shorebird, with an island pop. of 600 – 800! Up to 200 at Frigate Bay and Cockleshell Bay, with smaller nos. most other wetlands. Still 150 Frigate Bay on 25th.
Short-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus griseus Seen only Frigate Bay, where up to 7 throughout.
Wilson’s Snipe Gallinago delicata Small nos. most suitable wetlands but no more than 2/day seen.
Hudsonian Godwit Limosa haemastica One Frigate Bay S. P. 12th.-14th and 1 (possibly same) there on 22nd. First record (Caribbean rarity)
Willet Catoptrophorus semipalmatus One at Half Moon Pond 22nd.-24th. Second record (Lesser Antilles rarity)
Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca Small nos. most wetlands (up to 10/day), but 25+ Cockleshell/Major’s Bay 21st.
Lesser Yellowlegs T. flavipes Common, with up to 50 Frigate Bay and 100 Cockleshell/Major’s Bay. Island pop. 200+
Spotted Sandpiper T. macularia Common all wetlands.
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres Small flocks most wetlands, maxima 50+ Cockleshell Bay and 40+ Half Moon Pond
Laughing Gull Larus atricilla Up to 3 Basseterre waterfront. Interesting habit of perching on backs (and even heads) of swimming Brown Pelicans.
Royal Tern Sterna maxima Fairly common (Caribbean only); roost of 35 Basseterre anchorage on 21st.
Common Tern S. hirundo 7 juvs Basseterre waterfront 16th., 2 on 21st. and 1 on 23rd.
Scaly-naped Pigeon Columba squamosa 1 by coast road N. of Basseterre 19th.; 1 above Romney Manor 20th.
Rock Dove (feral) C. livia Common in urban areas; most have assumed dark plumage.
Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto Recent colonist from introduction in Bahamas; common Basseterre and Conaree landfill site (where leucistic bird among 80+ seen)
White-winged Dove Zenaida asiatica Recent (natural) colonist from west/central Caribbean; 2 Conaree 22nd.
Zenaida Dove Z. aurita Common and widespread, except in dense forest.
Common Ground Dove Columbina passerina Common in lowland scrub and gardens.
Ruddy Quail-Dove Geotrygon montana Although I failed to see the resident Bridled Quail-Dove in the rain forest, I was compensated by this sighting at Frigate Bay – a small, plump dove with no white in the short tail flying across the salt pond, which was then flushed from grass on the eastern side to confirm the identification. First record (although occurs neighbouring islands)
Yellow-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus americanus One Muddy Point 13th; one Friars Bay 15th.
Mangrove Cuckoo C. minor One ‘probable’ Friars Bay 15th; one Muddy Point pond 19th.
Belted Kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon Wintering birds widely scattered, with ones and twos at several sites; one on Wingfield’s River above Romney Manor 23rd. Island pop.12+
American Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica Flocks of 30 – 80 seen most days, with evidence of southerly movement through peninsula and over (Caribbean) sea. Very few adults.
Cliff Swallow H. pyrrhonota Singles (with Barn Swallows) on 12th., 17th., 18th. and 20th. At least 3 different individuals involved. First records (Caribbean rarity, but probably overlooked)
Purple-throated Carib Eulampis jugularis Singles Romney Manor 14th.; Philip’s Level 19th.
Green-throated Carib E. holosericeus One Romney Manor 20th.
Antillean Crested Hummingbird Orthorhyncus cristatus Fairly common on forest fringes and southern peninsula.
Grey Kingbird Tyrannus dominicensis Very common in all open habitats.
Lesser Antillean Flycatcher Myiarchus oberi Several in rain forest above Romney Manor and 2 at Philip’s Level.
Caribbean Elaenia Elaenia martinica Fairly common in mangroves and scrub (15+ calling on eastern side of Great salt Pond on 15th.)
Eastern Phoebe Sayornis phoebe A medium-sized flycatcher (slightly larger than Elaenia) with dark head, plain upperparts (no wing bars) and pale underparts was seen on the edge of coastal scrub below Sir Timothy’s Hill on 15th. First record (Vagrant ‘overshooter’ from North America)
Veery Catharus fuscescens One in mangrove and scrub bordering Half Moon Pond 24th. Uniform rufous/brown upperparts. First record (West Indian vagrant)
Brown Trembler Cinclocerthia ruficauda Two seen Romney Manor area.
Pearly-eyed Thrasher Margarops fuscatus Fairly common Romney Manor/Philip’s Level – at least 10 seen on 19th.
Scaly-breasted Thrasher M. fuscus At least 2 Philip’s Level 14th.
Brown Thrasher Toxostoma rufum One well seen at Philip’s Level 19th. First record (Vagrant ‘overshooter’ from N. America)
Yellow-throated Vireo Vireo flavifrons One in scrub beside Cockleshell Bay 18th. First record (Vagrant ‘overshooter’ from N. America)
Black-whiskered Vireo V. altoloquus Well distributed in small numbers in mangroves, scrub and woodland edges, at least as high as Philip’s Level.
Yellow Warbler Dendroica petechia Fairly common in mangroves and lowland scrub. (St Kitts form ‘normal’ – i.e. does not have chestnut cap)
Blackpoll Warbler D. striata One in coastal scrub behind Half Moon Point on 13th.
Pine Warbler D. pinus One in open scrub east of Great Salt Pond on 15th. (Greenish, unstreaked back; bold double wing bars, plainish head and very lightly streaked underparts.) First record (West Indian vagrant)
Northern Waterthrush Seiurus novaboracensis Small nos. widespread in mangroves from 17th.; one on river above Romney Manor 23rd.
Louisiana Waterthrush S. motacilla One in coastal scrub at Half Moon Point 13th.; one in mangroves at Half Moon Pond 22nd.
Bananaquit Coereba flaveola Widespread in lowlands.
House Sparrow Passer domesticus Recent colonist. Roost of 50+ in tree near Basseterre waterfront.
Black-faced Grassquit Tiaris bicolour Common in open areas, scrub and woodland fringes at all levels.
Lesser Antillean Bullfinch Loxigilla noctis Very common and tame around settlements
Rose-breasted Grosbeak Pheucticus ludovicianus Immature or female (with Pine Warbler!) in scrub east of Great Salt Pond on 15th. First record (Lesser Antilles vagrant)