Friday, January 30, 2015

Bird spotting

Zenaida Dove
We didn't really set out to do any bird watching in Antigua, but it was fun to spot them along our travels.

Every morning we woke to bird song and when we had our coffee on the balcony, some of them would flit right up onto the table. The bullfinches were especially bold, and eventually trained us to lay out crumbs for them along the railing.

Lesser Antillian Bullfinch
I thought the little bright yellow birds were goldfinches or warblers, but later discovered they were more aptly named bananaquits. Both the bullfinches and bananaquits would sit on the rim of the citronella candles and dip their beaks into the wax... maybe using it to help fortify their nests.

Frigates, brown pelicans, terns and gulls could usually be seen gliding on thermals or plunging into the Bay.

On the beaches, we'd watch the seabirds for hours. The pelicans were often in pairs, taking turns diving. The frigates had forked tails and actually never dove into the water, but skimmed along the surface to catch their prey with talons. I'm pretty sure I saw a pomarine skua when we were at Half Moon Bay.

In the shade under mangroves, purple-throated hummingbirds would dart about the green leaves, and Carib grackles would squawk at us perched in branches, peering down with yellow eyes and cocking their heads side to side.

Driving along the roads, we'd see roosters and chickens roaming about freely, and once saw a white bird hitching a ride on the back of a donkey - likely a cattle egret.

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