ABACO SHELLS: 3 MORE FROM THE DELPHI CLUB COLLECTION
I have recently featured some of the shells from the collection amassed at Delphi – see SHELLS 1 and SHELLS 2. They are kept in vases or bowls for display and examination. They may not all come from the immediate vicinity, but they are all, for sure, from South Abaco. It’s time for some more.
PINK TRIVIA SHELL
LETTERED OLIVE SHELL
For further details about Spirula(e), please see the comment box where Capt Rick Guest gives a lot of fascinating info about them and related marine cast-offs. You’ll also find out which are the real prize ones to look out for…
A vignette of RH examining shells on the balcony at Delphi
Time to face up. Time for flora. This post has been… er… post-poned several times. When I first started this blog, it was an adventure into the unknown. Basic computer skills. Zero blog experience. Scant knowledge about much (any?) of the subject matter. Looking back at early posts there is evidence – plenty – of floundering and general incompetence while I gradually learnt more. The birds and other wildlife came quite easily; the flora not so. Apparently I even carry a bunch of flowers in an odd way (opines Mrs RH), under one arm like a rugby ball. Don’t all men? Oh! Just me, then. Anyway, it’s time to try again and brave the land of petal, stamen and pistils at dawn. Here are 20 plants that you will come across on Abaco. Many were photographed at Delphi or in the nearby coppice and pine forest. A couple were in Marsh Harbour, 2 more were at Sawmill Sink Blue Hole. The beautiful Cannas are from Hope Town, with thanks to Abaco Island Artist Brigitte Carey. Some will be known locally by different names – I’d be interested to hear them via the ‘comment’ box.
ANGEL’S TRUMPET (Datura Candida) CANNASCOCONUT WHITE FRANGIPANI (Plumeria)YELLOW FRANGIPANI (Plumeria)YELLOW FRANGIPANI (Plumeria)MARSH PINK (Stellatia Maris)MORNING GLORY (Convolvulus)MOSS ROSES (Portulaca)OYSTER PLANTRED HIBISCUSPINK CORAL (FRINGED) HIBISCUSPINK PENTAS (Pentas lanceolata)RED PENTAS (Pentas lanceolata)PLUMBAGO / CAPE LEADWORT (Plumbago auriculata)ROYAL POINCIANA / FLAME TREE (Dolonix regia)SPIDER LILY (Hymenocallis littoralis)THATCH PALMWILD ALLAMANDA (Urechites lutea)BIRD OF PARADISE FLOWER (Strelizia)BANANAS at the Delphi Club
About a year ago, Sandy Walker encountered a praying mantis at the Delphi Club. For technical reasons his photo(s) of it didn’t work out. Undaunted (and because I’d never seen one outside an insectarium) I turned an essentially non-event into a short post SANDY’S PRAYING MANTIS, in the course of which I learnt a bit about these strange creatures. There isn’t a great deal of compelling information to pass on, to be honest. And I still don’t buy their supposed resemblance (for the sober observer) to Eleuthera.
We saw no mantises this summer on Abaco, and I forgot about them completely until a week ago… And there, nonchalantly strolling across an outdoor table where we were staying for a few days in Italy, was the very creature. It obligingly posed for some prayerful snaps, then I put it gently on a balcony railing where it clung upside down and apparently content overnight. It was still there at breakfast, gone by lunchtime, and we never saw it again. But the images live on…*
* Please note that the fingerprints in photo 1 are copyright…
Hurricanes. Extreme weather events that can strike anywhere in the world’s vulnerable zones. But where are these to be found? And in those zones, is there any historical evidence demonstrating that particular areas of the world are more vulnerable than others? A recent post on the very informativeABACO SCIENTISTwebsite includes a comprehensive map of all hurricanes recorded since 1851. This map gives a clear picture of the hot-spots and danger areas.
Delphi Club Abaco 25 Aug 2011 / Hurricane Irene: Looking south from the balcony
The source is NASA and the article may be foundHERE. I reproduce the map and explanation, with acknowledgement to John Nelson and IDV Solutions. Each blue link in the explanation below will take you to a new source of hurricane information, so the article is a valuable resource as a gateway to further hurricane knowledge.
EXPLANATION AND WORLD MAP
“Should you be worried about hurricanes? To find out, it is useful to know where hurricaneshave gone in the past. The Earth map shows the path of every hurricane reported since 1851, Although striking, a growing incompleteness exists in the data the further one looks back in time. The Earth mapgraphically indicates that hurricanes — sometimes called cyclones or typhoons depending on where they form — usually occur over water, which makes sense since evaporating warm water gives them energy. Themap also shows that hurricanes never cross — or even occur very near — the Earth’s equator, since the Coriolis effectgoes to zero there, and hurricanes need the Coriolis force to circulate. The Coriolis force also causes hurricane paths to arc away from the equator. Although incompleteness fogs long term trends and theprevalence of hurricanes remains a topic of research, evidence is accumulating that hurricanes are, on the average, more commonand more powerful in the North Atlantic Ocean over the past 20 years.”
Image Credit & Copyright: John Nelson, IDV Solutions
The eye of Hurricane Irene passes directly over the Delphi Club, Abaco 26 August 2011
The image below was shared on Facebook, but I don’t have the inventor’s name. I’m sorry not to be able to identify the originator of this ingenious hurricane warning. Every home should have one…
A couple of months back I posted about Bananaquits on Abaco – specifically, at the Delphi Club. I featured images of a recently fledged bird, still with its ‘too big for my face’ orange-based beak. You’ll find other bananaquit information there, including audio of their call. I won’t repeat it all here – to see that postCLICKBANANAQUIT
The small bird below looks like a slightly older juvenile – an early teen, let’s say, before the troublesome stage. There’s something very sweet about its feathers. It’s still more like fluff. This one is growing into its beak, which has also lost the very bright orange at the base.
This handsome adult was a regular at one of the feeders at Delphi. The base of its beak is red as opposed to orange (I don’t know the technical term for this bird part. Is ‘mouth’ too simple? Someone tell me, by all means, via the comment box). Bananaquits enjoy the hummingbird feeders, which their narrow curved beaks seem to manage. There, they are not pestered by the (very greedy) black-faced grassquits and the larger Greater Antillean Bullfinches who enjoy the other types of feeder available and take priority in the pecking order.
Finally, this bird was a distance shot. At the time, it looked larger than a bananaquit – more Loggerhead Kingbird-sized. Before I had downloaded the image and could see it clearly, I’d wondered about a mangrove cuckoo. Then I saw at once that it didn’t tick the right boxes. So I decided it must just be a huge bananaquit with an orange rather than yellow front. If it’s anything else (a rare hybrid spindalisquit?), please say so!
Well, it’s a shame that in my homespun way I had to press ‘Publish’ when I meant to press ‘Preview’. I just wanted to check if these stills from a video of a massive storm over the Delphi Club at 3.00 a.m. one June night might be worth putting up. This item was for ‘in due course’ and not for now. I’d just decided that they aren’t really worth it, when I realised what I had done. So I may as well go ahead with it… Apologies to all those who are signed up and have got an email just saying “STORM”. I’ll have a word with the management.
Now that this gallery is out there, I should add this storm raged and rumbled for much of the night, with some spectacular rain, lightning and thunder – standing on a balcony watching it was quite an experience. At times the whole bay was momentarily as bright as day. Even brighter. Anyway, here’s the ‘before, during and after’ of a fork lightning bolt. I can’t make out if it’s true that lightning starts at the bottom, but I think it may be sky and earth near-instantaneously.
An informative ‘basic primer’ about lightning can be found at the National Severe Storms Laboratory (part of NOAA)CLICK===>>NSSL/NOAA
TULIP SHELLS & SUNRISE TELLINS: MORE SHELL TREASURES FROM ABACO
Here are two contrasting shells from the Delphi Club collection that has been haphazardly accumulated over the last 3 years or so. The first post in this shell series was about SEA URCHINS & SEA BISCUITS
TULIP SHELLS Fasciolaria tulipa
The term ‘Tulip snail’ includes 3 related species of sub-tropical gastropod worldwide, of the genus Fasciolaria. They are medium-sized predatory molluscs that breed throughout the year in warm waters. Their reproductive lives deserve some attention, if they will pardon the intrusion.
Research by the Smithsonian Marine Station Fl. reveals that the male’s penis is to be found on the right side of its body, directly behind its head… When they mate the (larger) female stays in an upright position on the sand while the male ‘flips over’ to align the apertures of both shells, before inserting the penis into the female (RH comment: the research is not specific about precisely where the female keeps her own genitals). Once joined, snail pairs may remain locked together for up to 2 hours, even when being watched by researchers. They have plenty of stamina: mating may occur several times in one season, and individual tulip snails have been observed to mate up to 3 times in a single week. Respect!
SUNRISE TELLINSTellina Radiata
I included these pretty shells, with their striking pink radials, in an earlier postBEACHCOMBING BIVALVESThe ones shown here are larger specimens. The hinges (muscles) are very delicate, and in these shells the two halves of the shells have separated. STs are not uncommon, but these are the largest I have come across (I realised after I had taken the photos that I should have used a coin for comparison…). They grow up to about 7 cms, and these ones were that length, or very nearly so.
I can’t assist with their sex lives I’m afraid, which may well be completely conventional, dull even. However, as I discovered when I previously researched these shells, “in most countries it is illegal to bring back these shells from holidays”. To which I can only repeat my comment: Whoops!
SEA URCHINS & SEA BISCUITS – BEACHCOMBING TREASURES ON ABACO
It’s time we had some more shells and other beach treasures on these pages. In the absence of star Abaco beachcomber and blog-contributor KASIA I have taken a closer look at the Delphi Club collection. This has been casually accumulated by the Club, its members and guests during the past 3 years whenever a good specimen has been encountered, and is displayed in the Great Room. The first items to catch my eye were the ECHINODERMS, a family that includes sea urchins, sand dollars, sea biscuits and star fish. Their sun-bleached tests are often found, though in my limited experience the larger they are, the rarer. The link above is to the Wiki-blurb, which has the unpromisingly daunting heading “This article may be too technical for most readers to understand…”. Now there’s a challenge!
First up is a very large SEA URCHIN, a thing of great delicacy and fragility that weighs next to nothing. I have never seen a bigger one. Looking at the fine detail, it is hard to believe that such perfection of symmetry and intricacy can exist in a creature so very painful to tread on.
This SEA URCHIN is smaller, with more prominent nodules and a much more random pattern – reminiscent of a cartoon of some distant white planet. It has cast a fine knobbly shadow.
SEA BISCUITS have similar five-way symmetry to their first cousins SAND DOLLARSbut are generally pebble-shaped rather than disc-shaped. I have included 2 close-ups to show the fine details of the pattern – almost like lace-work
This SEA BISCUIT is a different type, with the 5 radials reaching right round it. For some reason it only has 4 and not 5 small holes (as one might expect) at the centre. Unlike SAND DOLLARS they tend to be more oblong than round.
One of the first colour images from the Mars rover Curiosity – a composite panorama 9 August 2012 (NASA)
STIMULATING CURIOSITY IN ABACO
THE DELPHI CLUB’S PART OF THE MARS ROVER MISSION
One of the first images from Mars
CURIOSITY landed on Mars today. This is the best chance yet of answering Ziggy Stardust’s rhetorical question “Is there life on Mars?”, and doffing an astronaut’s helmet to space pioneer Major Tom along the way… Assiduous readers of the blog will both recall that a while ago, the Delphi Club was privileged to be involved in a small part of the ‘Curiosity’ Mars Rover project. It’s a prime example of what one might call “extreme beachcombing…”
“One small part for a space program, one giant chunk of junk for the Delphi beach…” (S Walker)
Here are the links to the 3 short illustrated reports (rockets, boys!) in this blog from early 2012
1. ABACO BEACHCOMBING: MYSTERY OBJECT FROM THE DELPHI CLUB BEACH HERE 1
The discovery by Sandy Walker of the item above on the Delphi Club beach, Abaco: 12 feet of conical mystery
2. ‘SO LONG, ARIANE’: FROM ROCKS TO ROCKETS ON THE DELPHI CLUB BEACH, ABACOHERE 2
News of a positive ID by serial number as rocket débris from the Mars Program Curiosity Rover launch
3. BEACHCOMBING ‘CURIOSITY’ ON ABACO: OUT OF THIS WORLD TO THE RED PLANETHERE 3
Confirmation of this item as part of the booster rocket fairing of the Altas V rocket used to launch Curiosity in Nov 2011
◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊
The episode had a slightly bathetic ending. Initial lack of official interest in the cone, which I personally hoped could then be planted deep in the coppice or pine forest for future generations to discover and wonder about, suddenly changed. In due course a team of astro-science persons (in a large black truck and white protective suits, I’d like to believe) came and took it away. This forestalled my other idea: cutting it up into hundreds – or thousands – of small pieces and selling them on eBay (possible in aid of the Abaco Parrots). A 12 foot cone of gleaming heat-resistant secret Abaconite space material. 5000 tiny pieces @ $100 each… Hmmmmmmmmm
This post is intended in part as a celebration of passing the 50,000 hits mark today. So much interest in the wildlife of one small island – thanks to all those who have visited during the last year or so
The first image below is of the handsome locally hand-carved pineapple that surmounts the roof of the Delphi Club, Abaco. The fruit lost a few leaves in Hurricane Irene last August, which scored a direct hit on the Club. As posted on theABACO FACTS page (under RANDOM main menu) “the precise Longitude & Latitude coordinates of the Pineapple [on] the Delphi Club roof are respectively -77.1787834167480 &26.20450323936187“. But why is it there? Time for a Short Voyage around the Pineapple…
PINEAPPLE FACTS TO ENLIVEN YOUR CONVERSATION
HISTORICAL & SOCIAL CONTEXT
Brought back to Europe by Christopher Columbus in 1493 on his return from his second voyage
Taken on long voyages as a protection against scurvy and because of its long life
By the c17 royalty & aristocracy grew them in hot-houses (or rather, their gardeners did). King Charles II tried one, an event so important it was recorded by the Court painter Hendrik Danckerts
By c18 considered a great delicacy and a status symbol of wealth, often the centre-piece of a feast.
If you couldn’t afford to buy one, you could rent one and return it afterwards. Someone richer than you would then buy it.
Pineapples were grown in pits of fermenting manure. In England Queen Victoria was not amused and soon put an end to that unpleasant nonsense
In the c19 pineapples were one of the most significant exports from Abaco
The Earl of Dunmore built a huge pineapple folly in Scotland in 1761, which you can stay in (We have. It’s a lot of fun)
Pineapples symbolise welcome and hospitality, placed at the entrance to villages or plantations. The tradition spread to Europe where they were carved as gateposts; staircase finials; and incorporated into wooden furniture (including bedposts at the Delphi Club)
Seafarers put pineapples outside their homes on their return to show that they were back from their travels and ‘at home’ to visitors
An expensive fruit to grow & to transport; remained a luxury until the arrival of steamships
Their costliness made them status symbols / indicators of wealth and rank. Displaying or serving pineapple showed that guests were honoured
In the 1920s the grandest dinners apparently needed both “a pineapple and Lady Curzon” (I have been asked whether this is Interwar Period code for some sort of disreputable activity… I need to check)
The future Queen Elizabeth was sent 500 cases of canned pineapple as a wedding present from Australia. She asked them “Hev you come far?” Prince Phillip’s reaction was – apart from the word ‘pineapple’ – unprintable
In the play Abigail’s Party (Mike Leigh) pineapple chunks on cocktail sticks were used as a plot device to highlight the desperate social ambitions of a hellish hostess trying to impress & outclass her guests
A 1930s ad promised that by baking a pineapple pie a wife would make her man “smack his lips in real he-man enjoyment” (NB This may not work so well in the 2010s)
By Appointment to HM the Queen
ARTS & CRAFTS
Used on Wedgwood pottery designs as early as the 1760s; others soon followed suit
Became widely used decoratively as a motif for gateposts, weather vanes, door lintels, wallpaper, table linen & curtains, and incorporated into furniture
Featured in still life paintings as a crowning example of opulence
Depicted in plant and fruit studies, for example these by Johann Christoph Volckamer, very early c18
Featured in music e.g. Pineapple Rag (Scott Joplin); Pineapple Head (Crowded House); Escape – The Piña Colada Song (Rupert Holmes); Pineapple Express (Huey Lewis); Pineapple (Sparks)
Used as a motif on shutters in Marsh Harbour
The Men’s Singles Trophy at Wimbledon is a silver gilt cup with a gilded pineapple on top of the lid. These days its meaning is “Welcome back, Roger!”
10 MISCELLANEOUS PINEAPPLE CHUNKS
The cocktail Afterglow is 1 part grenadine, 4 parts orange juice & 4 parts pineapple juice on ice
Piña Colada is rum, coconut milk & crushed pineapple. Omit the rum for a Virgin Colada
It is impossible, for chemical reasons, to make jelly with fresh pineapple
“Pineapple heat” was once a standard marking on thermometers
A pineapple grows as two interlocking helixes (8 one way, 13 the other – each being aFibonaccinumber)
A pineapple will never become any riper than it was when harvested
Workers who cut up pineapples eventually have no fingerprints – a gift fact for crime writers
Pineapple stems are being tested for anti-cancer properties
Pine Apple, a small Alabama town full of pineapple symbols, was originally named “Friendship” but there turned out to be another town called that, so they changed it
Features on the Bahamian 5 cents coin…
…and (later addition) a $1 stamp
STOP PRESSread Jim Kerr’s interesting article in ABACO LIFE on Abaco’s pineapple past HERE
FRANCESCA BEAUMAN 2006
THE PINEAPPLE – KING OF FRUITS
If you want to find out more about pineapples, their history and social significance, you should be able to pick up a copy of this book on Am@z%n, Abe or ALibris for a few dollars
“What?” I hear you cry, “you’ve managed a whole page about pineapples without mentioning modern advertising”. Shall I do so now? The man from Del Monte, he says YES
Sources: Own ideas + some magpie-thieving-borrowing from a variety of online sources, many of which contain identical info and / or quote from the above book. Hope everyone is comfortable with that…
NB Not every fact above is strictly 100% true, so expect to be challenged if you roll one out. In particular Prince Phillip is of course naturally docile and gentle-mouthed…
POST SCRIPT The first 21 Fibonacci numbers (just add 2 successive numbers to produce the next) are
AN ABACO INSECT IS BUGGING ME – WHAT IS THIS CREATURE?
There I was, walking slowly along the Delphi drive trying to locate some small chirruping bird in the coppice – close at hand, chatty, but invisible among the leaves. Then I saw this creature. It’s not an insect I have ever seen before, and I haven’t been able to find out what it is. It’s probably something elementary – an ‘Abaco Black Orange-Feeler Beetle’ – that is familiar to everyone. Except me. I’d just like to know. Any help out there? A response via the Comment box below would be appreciated!
This insect has some interesting features. The feelers are segmented, with 9 joints, so that in close-up the apparent smooth curve is not a perfect one but an articulated series of ‘straights’. It has 4 toes for gripping, and leg spines. It appears to be a voracious leaf-eater. And it can scratch its head. Overall, it looks aggressive and somewhat alien. Imagine if these things were the size of a potcake. Coming at you…
This small bird was quite far back – and high up – in the coppice on the Delphi guest drive. The photos were distance shots, so not the best quality, but they do capture the little bird in full song. BGGs have complete white eye rings; males have a dark ‘monobrow’ which can just about be seen in the photo above. In a word, ‘cute’. They sound like this (you may need to wait for the clip (credit: Cornell Lab / RH) to load – or hurry it along by clicking ‘Play’ as it loads):
They build a cup nest on a horizontal tree branch. It’s a modern family unit – both parents make the nest, tend the eggs, feed the young, and teach them manners. They may raise two broods in a season.
BGGs eat insects and spiders, feeding in trees and shrubs. They can hover very briefly, but mainly they catch insects on the wing (‘hawking’). The tail is often held upright while defending territory. Or sometimes just because they can.
All the information you could want on this species can be found at the excellent OISEAUX-BIRDS.COM
STOP PRESSchecking back through my photos, I’ve found a (slightly blurry) distance shot of a BGG. I am adding it because it shows the bird with its characteristically cocked tail, often seen when perching (the bird, I mean)
A very pretty BGG has recently been published on the superb Cornell Lab website, credited to Laura Frazier. It’s so cute – and such a clear image – that it deserves inclusion here
A new Header has arrived to grace the Home Page. It’s a wonderful wide-angle view of the 3/4 mile bay of white sand that is Rolling Harbour. It was taken by Michael Vaughn, a photographer and tarpon guide from Key West, and I have ‘borrowed’ it from the main DELPHI CLUBwebsite. You can immediately see the attraction of the blog name ‘Rolling Harbour’, an enterprise related to but editorially independent of HQ (though subject to benign scrutiny from Peter Mantle, who has so far resisted any temptation to behave in a ‘Murdochian’ fashion…)
The Delphi Club has just completed its third year in operation, with a record number of fish caught both out on the Marls and off the beach. There were records, too, for guest numbers; nourishment consumed in both the food and the drink categories; and for bird species spotted in the club grounds, the coppice and pine forest, and on the beach…
This aerial view shows the plantation-style club building and its minimal ‘footprint’ in the landscape
The Delphi Club from the beach
The view of the beach looking north from the Club verandahThe view of the beach looking south from the Club verandah
I have previously posted about these cute creatures that lie sunning themselves and occasionally blinking; or scuttle away when they see you. SeeCURLY TAILS for photos and details about these lizards and their habits. Here are a few more recent images. The first three were taken at the Delphi Club, where they seem to enjoy the pool area in particular. The top one has one extraordinarily long finger. It’s worth clicking on these 2x to enlarge them to see the structure of their skin / overlapping scales
An impressive “complete double curly”
This pair of curly tails was at Crossing Rocks, where we were trying to locate Bahama Woodstar hummingbirds in the scrubland. We rather felt that we might be interrupting something… They look endearingly affectionate.
These small birds are a favourite of mine. They flicker around, cheeping cheerfully, yet are often quite hard to see in the coppice even if you think you are looking exactly where the sound is coming from.
Bananaquits are passerines, with an uncertain species designation. Over the years they have been officially reclassified three times. Some include them loosely with tanagers; others put them in their own family group; others argue that there are 3 distinct species. Basically, there is no universal consensus. There is some satisfaction, in a vastly over-classified world, in one small bird resisting man’s pigeon-holing (so to speak). It’s a tiny taxonomic enigma.
Among the islands of the West Indies there are several subspecies of bananaquit, with marked variations of appearance and size too tedious to relate. The best news is that “…the Bahamas Bananaquit with a whitish throat and upper chest may be a separate species…”.
The Bananaquit’s slender, curved bill is designed for taking nectar from flowers. It can pierce flowers from the side to reach the nectar, or use its bill to puncture fruit. It also eats small insects. The birds are tame, and love feeders, especially hummingbird feeders filled with sugar-water – hence their nickname “sugar bird”. They breed all year round. This is the characteristic chirrup of the Bahamas Bananaquit (credit: Xeno-Canto)
This small juvenile was happily feeding by itself near the Delphi Club, Abaco. Its mother then flew onto a nearby branch, and I’m afraid to say that the child indulged in a shameful charade of “Hungry! Feed Me! Now!”
WARBLER IDENTIFICATION – A LIGHT-HEARTED CHALLENGE
SPECIES ID NOW SOLVED! CUT TO THE CHASE BENEATH THE PHOTOS FOR DETAILS. A LATE ENTRY NOW DISPUTES THE GENDER ID, SO THE SEX CHALLENGE IS REOPENED, SO TO SPEAK
I have previously posted aids to WARBLER ID (1); WARBLER ID (2), a pitfall-fraught area that continues to baffle me despite books, online resources, futile stabs in the dark etc. For each species the male differs from the female, and both differ from juvenile / maturing birds. And this all depends to some extent on the season. Here’s a speckled warbler photographed recently at the Delphi Club, Abaco, for which there are various candidates ranging from the distinctly possible to the frankly completely-unlikely-but-astounding-if-it-turned-out-to-be-true Kirtland’s Warbler. These are seen and positively identified vanishingly rarely on Abaco – maybe one or two a year, and invariably in winter. But what if one decided to stay behind for the summer… And to those who say “Prairie, dimwit”, I reply “…but their speckles don’t cover their entire fronts”.
I’m throwing this open, because although I have a view I’d like to see what others come up with. Craig? Avian101? Avian3? Margaret H? Other birding followers? Are you out there? Leave a comment (see small-print blurb at the bottom of the post) or email me at email@example.com The bird was a bit reluctant to be photographed, but I managed to get a side view, a ‘full-frontal’ and a head shot. Any ideas?
UPDATEThanks to all who came up with suggestions – it’s interesting how opinion on warbler species varies, even with quite clear close-ups to judge from. The first past the post is… Dr Elwood D Bracey (Fl), to whom many thanks. It’s a female CAPE MAY WARBLERDendroica tigrina. The runner-up is (amazingly) myself – I had it down for a Cape May juvenile, because I thought it looked a bit on the fluffy side… Also, its eye-patches (photo 3) are grey rather than brown, and I took their colouring to be a work in progress. There’ll be some more ID queries from our recent batch of Abaco photos – not just birds, but flowers & shells as well. All contributions will be welcome…
Oh no! What’s happening here? A late challenge has come in from Margaret H (see comments), who contends that the clearly shown patch on the bird’s cheek indicates that it is a male, not a female, Cape May. So the challenge was ended and the award given prematurely… The species is now definite, but the gender ID remains unresolved…
I’ve now heard from Alex Hughes, who writes “[I am] one of Caroline Stahala’s field techs on the parrot project this summer. She forwarded me the photos of the warbler taken recently on Abaco. The photos I saw are of a female Cape May Warbler, which is a great find in June! She is certainly not going to make it to her breeding grounds, unfortunately, but still fascinating to see a boreal forest bird in the Bahamas during summer.
In a follow-up, Alex adds “I’d be very surprised if this was a male bird, due to the plumage lined up with the time of year. This year’s juvenile birds are not big enough to make the flight south from breeding grounds yet, and wouldn’t anyways if they could. Therefore, it would have to be adult non-breeding plumage if it were a male, also meaning this bird already molted from alternate plumage from spring, and flew south. This seems far more unlikely to me than a female who simply didn’t make the flight, probably due to some handicap. Either way, very cool!”
So I think that wraps it up. A female Cape May, in the right place at the wrong time. How lucky to have got close to one in the off-season. It just goes to show, eager Kirtland hunters, that any of the migratory warbler species might choose to stay behind for the summer…
CORNELL LAB OF ORNITHOLOGY IMAGE & BLURB
“The Cape May Warbler breeds across the boreal forest of Canada and the northern United States, where the fortunes of its populations are largely tied to the availability of spruce budworms, its preferred food. Striking in appearance but poorly understood, the species spends its winters in the West Indies, collecting nectar with its unique curled, semitubular tongue”.
It is presumably using its ‘unique… tongue’ in Photo 2, inconveniently concealed by foliage so we will never know
(RH COMMENT My one obviously liked the Delphi Club – and its feeders – so much that it decided to stay for the summer…)
(Credit: Steve Pelikan for Xeno-Canto)
CAPE MAY WARBLER RANGE MAP (Wiki) (left)
As a warbler-muddler, I am interested to see how extremely selective this species is in its preferred summer and winter latitudes. The banding is very distinct. Are they never tempted by New York? Have they never tried Disneyland?
CORNELL LAB OF ORNITHOLOGY RANGE MAP(below)
The more sophisticated range map below shows the migration areas between the summer breeding and winter non-breeding areas. It looks as though a Cape May warbler on Abaco in June is an unexpected sighting.
THE RED-LEGGED THRUSH-A WELCOME GUEST AT THE DELPHI CLUB, ABACO
They are everywhere in May and June, with their eponymous limbs and their remarkable red eyes. In fact, ‘red-eyed thrush’ would be as apt a name, if somewhat lachrymose-sounding. This was our first Summer visit to Abaco and the difference in sightings was marked. Now, the thrushes tended to choose a high tree-perch to sing from, when not hopping around feeding on the ground. In March they seem more furtive, lurking in the coppice – presumably eyeing up the talent (or sizing up the opposition) with mating in mind.
There are 6 distinct regional variations on the species, which are found in the Bahamas, Caymans, Cuba, Dominica, Haiti and Puerto Rico. TURDUS PLUMBEUS is the subspecies specific to the Bahamas. Some view them as the Caribbean counterpart to theAMERICAN ROBIN. They eat fruit, insects and small creatures such as snails, lizards and caterpillars. Their song sounds like this (courtesy of Paul Driver at Xeno-Canto)
In a departure from the normal use of an ‘in-house’ logo, I’ve posted a silhouette of a Delphi RLT in the coppice close to the Club. The photo itself was dull, but I liked the pose and decided to turn it into logo-thrush
BIRDS IN THE DELPHI GOUNDS OR IN THE COPPICE NEARBY
1. This bird was at the top of a tree on the Delphi front drive close to the Club. It is singing cheerfully, and you can clearly see its tongue
2. This bird also chose a high vantage point near the front entrance gate. I managed to get gradually closer to it. Its feathers are quite fluffy and I wonder if it a juvenile / late teen?
3. Strike the pose! Two very characteristic poses by a bird on the guest drive. In the first image, you can also (just) see its tongue as it sings
4. Another high perch above the coppice alongside the drive
GROUND-FEEDING IN THE GARDEN ROUND THE POOL
Two very productive areas for thrush-fodder. The newly cut grass exposes insects, in particular ants. And the border beside the lawn has plenty of insect-life to feed on (Photo quality suspect – half-asleep by pool, grabbed camera)
A PRETTY EXAMPLE OF THE THRUSH TAKEN AT BAHAMA PALM SHORES
Checking out the precarious electricity infrastructure, Marsh Harbour, dusk
NORMAL SERVICE WILL BE RESUMED IN TWO WEEKS, IF YOU CAN EVER CALL IT ‘NORMAL’
Actually, apologies for the drawing. No, really. At one time in this blog, I did say that I struggle to draw a stickman. And ain’t that the truth. Click on the Soundcloud thing below for suitable vacation music, composed and played by me (tip of the hat to an iPhone app). Oh good grief. It’s just as feeble as my drawing. Just as well I’m off to Abaco for R & R… Meanwhile, here’s what a bonefish really looks like – the weight / strength ratio makes it one of the world’s most powerful fishes. Hook one and prepare to have your reel stripped to the backing. All caught bones are quickly released to ensure stocks are not depleted.
Why thank you, nice Lubbers Quarters sign, I do believe we are…
BONEFISHING! We will soon be back at the Delphi Club at last and out on the Marls in 10 days time. The slow-poled movement through the shallow waters. Keen eyes searching for moving shadows on the sand. The urgent half-whispered directions as bones are sighted. The swift confident raise of the arm and flick forward of the cast… and the tangled mass that lands 15 feet short and well behind the vanishing fish. I love it! The guides don’t, of course, but they are generally kind enough to keep their muttered imprecations barely audible. And occasionally there is a fortuitous hook-up. If exceedingly lucky, the obstacle of playing and bringing in the fish without it self-releasing prematurely is surmounted, and RH eventually boats a bone (see above).
TROUTFISHING! At the moment I am sporadically fishing on the River Frome, the westernmost of the southern English chalk rivers. I’m after small wild brown trout, though the river also has sea trout and salmon. The weather has been cold, wet (hail!) and windy, and I have had roughly the same rate of success as with the bones. There have been experimental tugs at the fly. Times when, as I watch swallows skimming the water surface, a fish takes the fly and has spat it out by the time I have turned round to glimpse it dive below. And, as happened yesterday, it’s ‘Fish On’ – until it leaps clear of the water, effortlessly shakes out the (barbless) hook, and fins me a rude gesture as it plunges back. Plainly I need a brand new rod. And reel. And line. And jacket. And… It can’t possibly be operator error, can it? Anyway, this is all a world away (4,250 miles, in fact) from the Marls. It is pastoral fishing at its finest, even if the fish come out on top. Practice makes perfect, as they say… out with the willows, bring on the mangroves
(All exaggerations are strictly for comic effect. Except, tragically, there aren’t really any…)