HOPE TOWN BIRDERS SPOT 44 SPECIES ON SOUTH ABACO


Abaco (Cuban) Parrot, Bahama Palm Shores (Keith Salvesen)

Abaco (Cuban) Parrot, Bahama Palm Shores (Keith Salvesen)

HOPE TOWN BIRDERS SPOT 44 SPECIES ON SOUTH ABACO

South Abaco – the tract of land south of Marsh Harbour – has some of the richest birding in the Bahamas. Besides 4 of the 5 Bahamas ENDEMIC SPECIES, it contains some of the most interesting speciality birds. The unique ABACO PARROT for a start, with a population that is gradually increasing following a drastic decline and conservation intervention. Rare PIPING PLOVERS on the eastern shores that overwinter, as do the endangered KIRTLAND’S WARBLERS, of which more soon. In the Bahamas the WEST INDIAN WOODPECKER is common on Abaco, but elsewhere it is rare on San Salvador and is no longer found on Grand Bahama (missing, presumed extirpated). If you want to learn more about them and their engaging ways read Caroline Stahala’s fascinating article HERE
Olive-capped Warbler, Abaco (Bruce Hallett)

Olive-capped Warbler, one of 5 permanent resident warblers (of 37 species in all) Bruce Hallett

January was an excellent time for the Hope Town Birding Group to take the ferry over for a quality day of birding on south Abaco. In all, 44 species were identified, ranging from expected feathery denizens to what are sometimes described as ‘Good Gets’. The group was led by Bruce Wolck. Jan Metcalf contacted me to arrange for Delphi – a notable birding hotspot – to be on the itinerary. And as she wrote to me afterwards in summing up the day:
“Amazing birds, amazing day, amazing Delphi (where we saw the Bullfinch)”
Sally Chisholm has since emailed that among places visited were the “[town] dump, locations along the highway south to the Y, Sandy Point, the south ferry dock, Gilpin Point, Bahama Palm Shores and Delphi” I’ve never been to the dock, so that’s one for us to try out in March…
Here is the group’s checklist of the 44 species. I have added thumbnail images, almost all taken on Abaco by contributors to THE DELPHI CLUB GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF ABACO, including some used in the book. “Good Gets” include the Pied-billed Grebe, a permanent resident but quite scarce; the Bonaparte’s Gull; the Great Black-backed Gull; and the White Ibis. The last 3 are what are termed ‘casual’ winter residents – rarely seen and so irregularly reported.
HOPE TOWN BIRDING GROUP CHECKLIST – JANUARY 2015
CLICK on a thumbnail to enlarge it. That’s the idea anyway, but I’m a bit ‘casual’ myself in checking links. The ones I spot-checked worked so I am hoping for the best with the remainder…
Pied-billed- Grebe Podilymbus podiceps (Wiki)Pied-billed Grebe
Pelican Sandy Point Abaco (Keith Salvesen)Brown Pelican
Magnificent Frigate male wikipicsMagnificent Frigatebird
Great_Blue_Heron_Wading_2Great Blue Heron 
Great Egret Abaco - Treasure Cay Ponds (Keith Salvesen)Great Egret
Little Blue Heron, Abaco - Bruce HallettLittle Blue Heron
Cattle Egret, Sandy Point, Abaco - Keith SalvesenCattle Egret
Green Heron, Abaco - Treasure Cay GC - Charlie SkinnerGreen Heron
White Ibis, Treasure Cay Abaco - Kasia ReidWhite Ibis
White-cheeked Pintail, Abaco - Gilpin Pond - Keith SalvesenWhite-cheeked Pintail
Turkey Vulture Abaco - Delphi  (Keith Salvesen)Turkey Vulture
Red-tailed Hawk Abaco - Bruce HallettRed-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel Abaco - Sandy Point - Keith SalvesenAmerican Kestrel
1009BlackBelliedPloverBlack-bellied Plover
American Oystercatcher Abaco -  Jim ToddAmerican Oystercatcher
Willet.Abaco Bahamas.2.13.Tom Sheley smallWillet
Ruddy Turnstone winter plumage.Abaco Bahamas.2.13.Tom Sheley eRuddy Turnstone
Laughing Gull, Abaco - Nina HenryLaughing Gull
Bonaparte's Gull (Ad NB), Abaco - Bruce HallettBonaparte’s Gull
Ring-billed Gull, Abaco (Nina Henry : DCB)Ring-billed Gull
800px-Great_Black-backed_Gull_Larus_marinusGreat Black-backed Gull
Rock_Dove_close-upRock Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove, Abaco - Bruce HallettEurasian Collard Dove
Ground Dove, Abaco -Nina Henry Common Ground Dove
ABACO (CUBAN) PARROT, Abaco (Caroline Stahala)Cuban Parrot
Smooth-billed Ani, Abaco - Roselyn PierceSmooth-billed Ani
Cuban Emerald, Delphi, Abaco - Keith SalvesenCuban Emerald
800px-Belted_Kingfisher_with_preyBelted Kingfisher
800px-West_Indian_Woodpecker_(Melanerpes_superciliaris)West Indian Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Abaco Bahamas 2.12.Tom SheleyYellow-bellied Sapsucker
Cuban Pewee Abaco - Casuarina - Keith SalvesenCuban Peewee
La Sagra's Flycatcher - Delphi,  Abaco - Keith SalvesenLa Sagra’s Flycatcher
Loggerhead Kingbird, Abaco - Peter Mantle Loggerhead Kingbird
Bahama Swallow, Abaco - Craig NashBahama Swallow
Red-legged Thrush, Delphi,  Abaco - Keith SalvesenRed-legged Thrush
Northern Mockingbird, Delph, Abaco  - Keith SalvesenNorthern Mockingbird
Thick-billed Vireo, Abaco (Craig Nash)Thick-billed Vireo
Northern Parula, Abaco - Craig NashNorthern Parula
Yellow-throated Warbler, Abaco - Bruce HallettYellow-throated Warbler
Olive-capped Warbler, Abaco - Bruce HallettOlive-capped Warbler
Pine Warbler, AbacoPine Warbler
Western Spindalis, Abaco - Bruce HallettStripe-headed Tanager

Black-faced Grassquit (m), Abaco - Bruce HallettBlack-faced Grassquit
Greater Antillean Bullfinch, Abaco - Tony HepburnGreater Antillian Bullfinch
If any Birding Groups are interested in birding the one-mile drives (wonderful pine and coppice habitats), gardens and one-mile white sand beach at Delphi, let me know. It can easily be arranged, but there are times when it is not convenient or that some areas are not open for access. Email me as first contact at rollingharbour.delphi[AT]gmail.com
Western Spindalis Abaco (Keith Salvesen)

Western Spindalis, Abaco -Delphi Club Drive (Keith Salvesen)

MARSH HARBOUR ONLINE MUSEUM: A NEW RESOURCE FOR OLD ABACO


Marsh Harbour, Abaco - Old Photo

MARSH HARBOUR ONLINE MUSEUM: A NEW RESOURCE FOR OLD ABACO

There’s a new arrival on Facebook, and the word is already out. Within 12 hours the page has gained 119 followers*. Already there are some wonderful old photos of family groups and MH residents. Some are named; some may be waiting for someone to recognise them. The header image (thanks for use permission, MHOM) is both instantly recognisable yet puzzling. Is that Snappas over there… no, look, there…? To get straight to the page, click HERE. I guess they’ll want to hear from anyone who has old photos or postcards of MH; or who can help with ID of people and places.

cropped-option-7-copy

There is a similar resource for GREEN TURTLE CAY, where Amanda has a great blog LITTLE HOUSE BY THE FERRY. In part it records the restoration of her family home. However, it is also packed with old photos (with people invited to name the unknowns) and details of a fascinating genealogy project through DNA samples. MAN-O-WAR CAY has a Facebook Group called Man-o-War Cay and Abaco Family History with similar aims. HOPE TOWN has a very active Facebook page fronted by the iconic LIGHTHOUSE. And so on. Not forgetting the museums such as the WYANNIE MALONE MUSEUM, Hope Town and the MAN-O-WAR CAY HERITAGE MUSEUM.

‘Elbow Reef’ – antique engraving Hope Town Abaco - historic print

I am neither Abaconian nor even a second-homer, so I tread lightly in these matters for obvious reasons. However, I have posted a few items about Abaco’s history from time to time so I’ll add a few links below in case anyone is tempted to investigate further. Meanwhile, I notice that in the time I have put this post together, the followers for MHOM have risen to 139…

ABACO HISTORY: SHIPS, MAPS & HOLE-IN-THE-WALL

CHARLES CORY’S C19 BIRDING EXPEDITIONS TO ABACO

“GLIMPSES OF LIFE ALONG A CORAL REEF” A c19 NATURALIST VISITS ABACO

MAN-O-WAR CAY, ABACO: THE HIDDEN BOAT-BUILDING VILLAGE

HOPE TOWN LIGHTHOUSE, ELBOW CAY, ABACO – A BEACON ICON

I’ll end with what I believe to be the oldest known depiction of Hole-in-the-Wall in all its glory, before Hurricane Sandy did for it. It’s an aquatint published in the Naval Review in 1803. If you want to know what the ships are, you’ll have to click the top link. This will also offer you a number of other posts about Hole-in-the-Wall and Abaco more generally, traced through historic maps. Or just open a Kalik, why not. hole-in-the-wall-print-1803

*In the same time, poor Miley Cyrus has lost 2314. Wrecking Ball indeed. Whoops! There go another 249…

HOPE TOWN, ABACO: DOLPHINS & A LIGHTHOUSE IN THE SUN


Hope Town, Elbow Cay, Abaco 13

HOPE TOWN, ABACO: DOLPHINS & A LIGHTHOUSE IN THE SUN

A trip to Hope Town and Elbow Cay is a always a treat. Especially if it includes lunch with friends. Most of my previous visits have been in cloud or rain, so the glory of the historic and indeed iconic candy-striped lighthouse has been rather marred. I left Delphi in hot sunshine, but it began to cloud over ominously during the half-hour drive north to Marsh Harbour and Albury’s Ferry Terminal. I was still optimistic when I arrived, though…Hope Town, Elbow Cay, Abaco 2…until I looked the other way. The 20-minute crossing of the Sea of Abaco to Elbow Cay was characterised by a sudden pelting rain storm and a churning sea. A passenger lay down greenly, and I began to count the minutes.Hope Town, Elbow Cay, Abaco 1However, as we approached Hope Town we emerged from the gloom into bright sun, and a fine view of the lighthouse. This edifice has one of the last remaining kerosene-lit lights in the world, attended to every 2 hours throughout the night by volunteers. The mechanism sits on a bed of mercury, and the light shines through the original fresnel lenses. Much of the original british-made machinery is still in place. For a tour round the interior, with excellent photos taken by Mrs RH, and views from the top platform, click HOPE TOWN LIGHTHOUSE Hope Town, Elbow Cay, Abaco 3 Hope Town, Elbow Cay, Abaco 4Lunch at the pleasant Harbour’s Edge Restaurant was enhanced by two – or was it three? – bottlenose dolphins that swam around the harbour. I was torn between eating, chatting  and photographing them. I didn’t catch the wonderful lazy arcs they made as the broke the surface and slowly arched back into the water. It was near impossible to predict where they would surface next. Here are a couple of less dramatic shots… Hope Town, Elbow Cay, Abaco 11Hope Town, Elbow Cay, Abaco 5After lunch there was time for a quick wander round the attractive little town, with its pastel-coloured houses. Hope Town 1a

There was a YELLOW ELDER tree in bloom, the national flower of the Bahamas. [Later: as it turns out, I was caught in the act… of photography]Hope Town, Elbow Cay, Abaco 7Hope Town, Elbow Cay, Abaco 6996860_10200325236513792_581389694_n

Hummingbird Cottage Art Centre and Gallery

I was taken to see the new HUMMINGBIRD COTTAGE ART CENTRE & GALLERY  a fine work of building restoration in the centre of town that provides a surprisingly large exhibition space and an idyllic place for art classes and related activities.

DSC_0076-150x150Hope Town, Elbow Cay, Abaco 10Hope Town, Elbow Cay, Abaco 8Hope Town, Elbow Cay, Abaco 9Later, I took the ferry back to Marsh Harbour, taking a final good look at the lighthouse, still thankfully in full sunlight against a vivid blue sky.Hope Town, Elbow Cay, Abaco 12Hope Town, Elbow Cay, Abaco 15  Hope Town, Elbow Cay, Abaco 14Hope Town, Elbow Cay, Abaco 16

LINKS

HOPE TOWN LIGHTHOUSE: THE WORKS

YELLOW ELDER: BAHAMAS NATIONAL FLOWER

Screen-Shot-2013-01-30-at-8.33.11-PM

ALBURY’S FERRY SERVICE

and for a comprehensive overview of Hope Town and Elbow Cay

hopetown

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hummingbird Cottage ©Brigitte Bowyer

LIGNUM VITAE – BAHAMAS NATIONAL TREE



LIGNUM VITAE

NATIONAL TREE OF THE BAHAMAS & THE WOOD OF CRICKET BAILS

LIGNUM VITAE The “tree of life” (Guaiacum sanctum) is a very heavy wood with clusters of small blue flowers at the branch tips. Its strength, density and durability made it a valuable trade wood historically. It easily sinks in water and is the densest of all trade woods. As alternative materials and compounds have been discovered, the demand for LV has fallen… which is fortunate, since Lignum Vitae (also commonly known as Greenheart and Ironwood) is now considered a potentially endangered tree species. 

LIGNUM VITAE TREE IN HOPE TOWN, ELBOW CAY, ABACO

The wood had – and still has – many important uses. All cricketers know that bails of lignum vitae are used in windy conditions to forestall any “…and the bowler charges in… reaches his delivery stride and… oh my goodness the bails have blown off…” dramas.  The wood is also used in other sports: for bowls and skittle balls, and croquet mallets  Flower Image Credit Grooko 

LIGNUM VITAE TREE ON MAN-O-WAR CAY, ABACO       

Photo credit: Eric Forsyth of the Yacht Fiona    

10 MEMORABLE FACTS ABOUT LIGNUM VITAE

  • Traditionally, it was used for making British Police Truncheons (now made of soft fluffy pink fabric to reflect new caring policing methods)
  • Its physical qualities made it widely used in shipbuilding (though presumably not the whole ship, which would sink instantly)
  • Cabinet-makers, stone-carvers and gem-cutters all use the wood in their crafts
  • LV has many engineering uses. The wood is self-lubricating and is ideal for bearings. The 1st nuclear submarine had some of these
  • The world-renowned  UK fishing rod maker Hardy’s made a famous ‘Greenheart’ rod
  • LV has medical uses, including for arthritis; and its bark / shavings allegedly make a nice cup of “tea”… (Any evidence of this?)
  • A 1920’s calypso song “LignumVitae” was sensationally saucy for its allusions to the bark tea’s prophylactic quality in addition to exploiting the phallic connotations
  • Gabriel Garcia Márquez incorporates uses for the wood in two of his novels (neither of which I have read. Oh dear. The guilt)
  • Pete Seeger, singer / songwriter, made the neck of his banjo from LV
  • The wood is also connected to mauve tiling, vitamin glue, anti-evil gum and the ‘vigilant emu’ by anagrammatic chance 

A Lignum Vitae tree at Bahama Palm Shores, Abaco, with a camera-shy juvenile black-faced grassquit

JANKA HARDNESS TEST

The Janka Hardness Test is an international test of the hardness of a given wood  by measuring the force needed to embed a steel ball to half its diameter. The size of the ball is internationally standardised, though the reading may be given in ‘local’ units. The hardest wood (using pounds/force units) is the Australian Buloke (5060); Lignum Vitae is the second hardest (4500). Other examples are Ebony (3220); Satinwood (1820); Zebrawood (1575); Caribbean Pine (1280); Teak (1000); Mahogany (800) Balsa (100).

A single lignum vitae flower                     

Some examples of items traditionally made from lignum vitae: gavels (auctioneers, TV Judiciary eg in Perry Mason); bowls; pestle & mortar; and (for dudes) a seriously cool guitar pick (less than $5 too)

   

PS 2012: I now have 2 hardwood plectrums (plectra?) to try out. The Lignum is nearly 3 times as hard as the Zebra wood. This does not imply that I am a dude (or even a superannuated one), but merely that I haven’t had the heart to dispose of my guitars. Mrs RH has a view about that… a strong one, I think

The above is cobbled together from Wiki and other snippets. Ta to all. An interesting site for a look at LV’s practical uses and some helpful information is Lignum-Vitae.com  CLICK LOGO===>>> 

The mention of cricket has made me nostalgic for the season just ended… UK – indeed any – cricket nuts will know exactly where I am coming from with this…

HURRICANE IRENE: AUG 31 ABACO AFTERMATH UPDATE, DAMAGE ASSESSMENT REPORTS


HURRICANE IRENE: LATEST ABACO NEWS UPDATE

 AUGUST 31

FOR YESTERDAY’S MAIN POST CLICK===>>> IRENE 30 AUG       See immediately below for the important Patherfinders Task Force Report links, and below that for today’s posts in reverse time order, oldest at the end.

DOWNLOADABLE  & PRINTABLE VERSION of the Pathfinders Task Force SWEAT-MS [Sewer, Water, Electricity, Academics, Transportation, Medical and Security] ASSESSMENT FOR ABACO with detailed maps and photos of supply problems caused by Irene eg Sandy Point was without electricity when assessed  CLICK===>>> PTFSWEAT-MSAssessmentAbaco

DOWNLOADABLE  & PRINTABLE VERSION of the Pathfinders Task Force RAPID DAMAGE ASSESSMENT for Abaco. The maps are incredibly helpful in revealing the extent of damage found in many areas – Marsh Harbour, Treasure Cay, Sandy Point for example – graded by severity.  CLICK===>>>  PTFRapidDamageAssessmentAbaco

=======================================================

16.00 GMT WILDLIFE NEWS: Abaco Parrots post-Irene . For a new report from Caroline Stahala, a great photo of a chick safe in its nest, and an optimistic afterword from rh  CLICK===>>> ABACO PARROT CHICK

14.00 GMT The damage assessment reports, photos and pdf download links given above are now also available on The Bahamas Weekly.com, with a comprehensive ‘SHARE’ button linking to more sharing methods than I have ever seen, let alone heard of  CLICK LOGO===>>> 

09.00 GMT  Local10.com has notified me overnight of a new short video report by Janine Stanwood on the Abaco situation. It centres (apologies for UK spelling, my spellchecker does that) on the GREEN TURTLE CLUB, GTC and on relief being flown in from South Florida by BAHAMAS RELIEF working with BANYAN AIR, including much-needed supplies for repairing properties. For the latest Local10.com report CLICK LOGO===>>>  

For direct access to the BAHAMAS RELIEF SITE / PAGE  CLICK LOGO===>>>  

rollingharbour reports… 

The situation on Abaco this week is clearer to the world, communications are mostly restored, family and friends are back in contact, and the long process of clearing up is under way. The need for the Irene side of this Abaco wildlife blog has receded. I usually get 20 – 25 hits a day for the birds, plants, reef fish and so on.  I have been getting 1000s daily since I started posting Irene radar and tracking maps and weather reports a mere 8 days ago – more than 5000 on one day alone and over 15,000 overall. The scope expanded rapidly to include links to media reports, videos, photos, damage reports and so forth. People have sought or supplied specific information. Some have said nice things. Now, however, the hit-rate has reduced to fewer than 1000 a day. Very soon it will be time for this blog, too, to return to normal service. With that in mind, here is an Abaco Parrot (taken in March 2011) to be going on with! 

HURRICANE IRENE: AUG 30 ABACO UPDATE, DAMAGE REPORT, STORM VIDEOS


HURRICANE IRENE: LATEST ABACO NEWS UPDATE

 AUGUST 30

TO SEE YESTERDAY’S POST CLICK===>>> IRENE 29 AUG

21.30 GMT DOWNLOADABLE  & PRINTABLE VERSION of the Pathfinders Task Force SWEAT-MS [Sewer, Water, Electricity, Academics, Transportation, Medical, and Security] ASSESSMENT FOR ABACO This assessment gives full details of the state of the electricity supply in the various parts of Abaco, with detailed maps and photos of supply problems caused by Irene – for example, Sandy Point was without electricity when the assessment was made…  CLICK===>>> PTFSWEAT-MSAssessmentAbaco

19.30 GMT DOWNLOADABLE  & PRINTABLE VERSION of the Pathfinders Task Force Rapid Damage Assessment for Abaco. The maps are incredibly helpful in revealing the extent of damage found in many areas – Marsh Harbour, Treasure Cay, Sandy Point for example – graded by severity.  CLICK===>>>  PTFRapidDamageAssessmentAbaco

Thanks to Bahama Islands Info for putting it in the public domain – much easier to read! TO SEE WHOLE ARTICLE CLICK LOGO===>>>  

17.00 GMT NASSAU GUARDIAN ARTICLE published this morning LT “HURRICANE IRENE & BEING PREPARED”, general summary of the situation. CLICK LOGO===>>>  or The Nassau Guardian

14.30 GMT STORM VIDEOS A number of short Abaco-specific hurricane videos are beginning to appear on YouTube of the storm and its aftermath, suggesting that comms must be pretty much back to normal. If you are looking on YouTube or its equivalents, use the ‘advanced search’ to specify date order, or you’ll get a lot of pre-Irene items that you have already lived through. The link here will take you direct to the latest videos, sorted in upload order, with the most recent at the top. I hope. CLICK===>>> ABACOonYOUTUBE

10.30 GMT STOP PRESS – HURRICANE IRENE ABACO DAMAGE ASSESSMENT REPORT (29 AUG) This is a detailed preliminary assessment of Irene damage on Abaco, with a report, maps and photographs, posted on Bahamas Local. Essential reading CLICK==>> BAHAMAS LOCAL 

DELPHI CLUB NEWS: I’ve just heard from Peter Mantle, with the good news that the team are all back at the club now, and the great clear-up is well under way

10.00 GMT Another video today of the arrival of Irene, this time from Cooperstown, North Abaco. Poster Jack Slack says “Initially the camera point of view is primarily facing East (Powell, High and Bonefish Cays) and then later pans across Cooperstown Clinic. About 1 minute into the clip, she starts blowing pretty hard… CLICK===>>> SLACKTIDE

09.00 GMT HOPE TOWN IRENE VIDEO There is now an excellent video with fascinating commentary on STORMVISUALS (Jeff Gammons). There is a direct link contained in the description below it to blog posts during Irene. There are are also a number of comments on the page which some may find useful. To get to the video CLICK==>> STORMVISUALS or TWEET WIDGET in Sidebar. Also here’s the link to the Facebook part of STORMVISUALS CLICK==>>FBSV

New Amazing Hurricane Irene Video From Great Abaco / Hope Town
“Earlier this afternoon, I finally received some of the raw Hurricane Irene video footage from Hurricane Chaser Jim Edds in Hope Town, Bahamas. Category 3 Hurricane Irene’s eye tracked directly over Great Abaco Island and Elbow Cay, and Jim was there to film it yesterday afternoon. He was also able to give me a rundown via cell phone of the peak of the storm, and how the island is doing the day after Irene, and I have including that audio in the video above. Look for additional video from Jim in the coming days when he returns to Florida this weekend. You can also read the blog posts updates during the storm yesterday here”

FROM YESTERDAY For those wondering what Rolling Harbour is all about, here is a view of it – a Google Maps image taken just before building started, over which I have superimposed a picture of the Delphi Club. Last Thursday, the sea covered all the visible sand and beyond into the scrub, with waves smashing up against the cliff-face. The wooden steps to the beach (on the right of the photo), although robust, were expected to be smashed completely, but amazingly they have survived intact. Double-click to enlarge.

USEFUL:  Local10.com has been excellent in its reporting of Abaco and Irene, with first-class live open-air reports from Janine Stanwood while the storm raged around her, and informative, balanced studio coverage. Here is the link to the recent 39-images slideshow. Some are captioned with location            CLICK==>> LOCAL10 

Delphi Club Abaco 25 Aug 2011 / Hurricane Irene: Looking north to the end of the bay

The Palm Tree in photo above, in less adverse weather