THANKS A MILLION! ROLLING HARBOUR: TEN YEARS OF HITS


Cuban Emerald (f) . Abaco . BahamasKeith Salvesen

ONE MILLION HITS ON THE STATS COUNTER (+ BONUS FROGFISH)

HAPPY DAYS AND HAPPY YEARS

A decade has passed since I sat down and tried to find out how on earth WordPress worked. The plan was to start a simple blog about Abaco, based on our very limited experiences as UK members of the Delphi Club fishing lodge perched on the cliff above a wonderful white sand bay known as Rolling Harbour.

Delphi Club Abaco

By then, I’d become fascinated with the wildlife of the island, and in particular the birds. Most were species that I had never seen before, nor in many cases heard of. I only had a tiny pocket camera back then, but I was quite proud of my rubbish photos of distant birds that only I could identify. I fell for the cheerful call of the Thick-billed Vireos, the flash of the Hummingbirds, and the charm of the Bananaquits. Then I encountered the unique underground-nesting Parrots, found only on Abaco.

A FESTIVAL OF ABACO PARROTS

Having to some extent conquered the complexities of blog set-up, I started unpromisingly with a few practice posts and no clear development plan. THE FIRST POST was… see what we are dealing with here in terms of sophistication?

Gradually the site expanded: I learned more, the ideas formed, the content improved, and I upgraded the camera. Background research became easier as online information on related topics gradually improved. Hits started to come in, then people I knew began to sign up. Then people I didn’t know joined in. Then word got around. Within a year, there was something worthwhile that people seemed to like, even beyond the Bahamas.

Western Spindalis . Abaco . Bahamas – Keith Salvesen

At that time, social media activity on Abaco (and beyond) was far less. Fewer communication methods mainly confined to Facebook & Twitter: basic / unreliable wifi: simpler iphones (model #3); generally far less interest in all the stuff we now wade through. The daily traffic for Abaco on Facebook tended to be local and brief. Meanwhile the blog happily coasted along, gradually expanding, heedless of hashtags and the like that I was too idle to learn to use.

Atala Hairstreak Eumaeus atala . Abaco . Bahamas – Keith Salvesen

HURRICANE SANDY

Then in October 2012, the awesome power of Hurricane Sandy began to curve towards the northern Bahamas. I started to post Hurricane information using NOAA and similar resources. Trackers (static and interactive), path and intensity predictions, NASA satellite hotspot maps, advisories and so on. I watched, amazed, as my hits changed from a handful daily to every few seconds. The counter clicked over continuously. On one day there were 2,200+ hits. Comms were mostly down and island information was hard to come by. I started to get emails and messages from beyond Abaco with concerns about families, locations (eg Little Harbour), properties, boats etc. In some cases I was able to make contact directly or indirectly with someone who could help. Overall, there were 15,000+ hits over 10 days or so. From such scary and sad circumstances, I simply note that the blog’s following grew rapidly.

Cuban Pewee . Abaco . Bahamas – Keith Salvesen

THE BIRDS OF ABACO

In 2013, Peter Mantle began to contemplate a new project, besides having recently masterminded the Delphi Club. He suggested producing a spectacular book showcasing the wonderful bird life of Abaco (and by extension other parts of the Bahamas). My wife Sally, a publisher, would carry out the professional work as production manager, designer, and editor. Research, picture-sourcing and writing were to be my pigeon. 16 months later THE DELPHI CLUB GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF ABACO had been printed in Florence and shipped to Nassau.

This is a good time to recall the extraordinarily positive response from all those who became involved in the project. The professionals guiding an amateur throughout the process; the 30 photographers whose pictures light up the book; and many others on Abaco and beyond who assisted with advice and encouragement. And the people who bought the book. And the people who didn’t but saw a copy and enjoyed it anyway.

A FLYER!

Over the years ROLLING HARBOUR ABACO increased massively in scope, for example with Marine Mammals (BMMRO), Reef Fish, Corals, and so on. Also bonefishing, history, maps, lighthouses, museums and a whole lot else besides. As I learned more, the more rewarding the research and writing became. Here are a few themed highlights from the last decade.

MARINE MAMMALS . ABACO . BAHAMAS

REEF DENIZENS

CORAL REEFS

SHARKS, RAYS & ‘CUDAS

ABACO PIPING PLOVER WATCH 2015-20

From 2014 on, I became involved in the research of the migration of PIPING PLOVERS from their breeding grounds in North America to overwinter in the Bahamas. These enchanting 2oz little birds make the journey of over 1000 miles from late July… and then back again in Spring. Many are banded in the breeding grounds, enabling individual birds to be identified and data recorded. This Citizen Scientist project involved people reporting sightings, collecting winter data for the summer Specialists.

Piping Plover . Delphi . Abaco . Bahamas (Peter Mantle)

The project spanned almost 5 years, cut short by the devastation of Abaco by Hurricane Dorian in 2019. Here are a few enchanting PIPL; and an example page from the record.

APPRECIATION

Over the decade, there have been 100s of people who have contributed to this little enterprise in some way: looking at posts; liking them; signing up for updates; providing information, ideas and encouragement; generously giving use permission for fantastic photos; commenting thoughtfully; correcting kindly; allowing me to join and even contribute to conservation, research and general natural history organisations; making the book a success; supporting and enabling APPW to provide valuable data; scores of people being friendly even though we never met. Thanks to everyone who has kept Rolling Harbour rolling along for so long, and – between you all – for 1m hits.

ODDEST SEARCH TERM: How to dispose of dead bodies?

VISITOR RECORD: 2,291 in 24 hours

COUNTER VIEWS:1,078,670 times by 587,400 visitors

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