Well, what’s all the fuss about here? One snowy egret is striding confidently forward. The other has gone into full-scale feather-frenzy melt-down. Something is clearly up…
…something that seems on close inspection to be a very small fish
After pausing to check what’s going on, the cool, calm and collected snowy continues on his way. His friend however seems to have lost all sense of decorum as a result of a successful stalk and the catch of a light snack…
Sensible part: the dishevelled bird is displaying so-called ‘bridal plumage’. And for ID enthusiasts, note the diagnostic yellow feet (header image), black legs, and black beak with a yellow / orange ‘bit’ (*technical word alert*) at the blunt end.
Credits: these fantastic photos are the work of Phil Lanoue who specialises in sequential photography, to whom many thanks for use permission; cartoon, Birdorable
The dusky damselfish Stegastes fuscus is one of a number of damselfish species found in Bahamian waters. These small reef fish, in adult form, are dark coloured as their name suggests. Their appearance is brightened by having distinctive blue edges to their fins.
These fish feed mainly on algae, with a preference for red. They top up their diet with small invertebrates. Their value to the reef is that their feeding patterns help to prevent coarser seaweeds from becoming dominant in areas where these are prevalent.
Like many damselfish, the dusky is a territorial species, guarding its chosen area of seabed and the food sources within it by repelling intruders – often seeing off far larger algae-grazing fishes such as parrotfish and wrasse. Yet besides their aggressive traits, they are also rather cute, as photo #2 shows!
New Providence, Bahamas – specifically in Nassau itself – now has a small population (c.15) of Cuban parrots. Their origin is debated, since the only known Bahamas breeding populations of these birds are on Abaco (underground nesting in limestone caves) and Inagua (conventional nesting). There’s more on the (probable) provenance of the New Providence birds HERE and HERE.
Whatever the location, the nesting arrangements or the precise origin, one fact is certain: these beautiful birds are prodigious eaters of fruit. Here are a couple of the Nassau parrots tucking in with relish on a sunny day. Soon they will fly off to other fruit trees nearby, emitting their loud excited squawks, to continue their day of feeding…
Note the wide businesslike spread of the claws
All photos: Melissa Maura, with thanks as always – and for a great new parrot header image…
BALD EAGLE ON THE ABACO MARLS: EXTREMELY RARE SIGHTING
On March 22nd a friend of ours, James, was bonefishing far out on the Abaco Marls when he was astounded to see the unmistakable appearance of a bald eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus flying above him. His boat partner and guide Joe also saw the bird. James is a very experienced birder, and has seen plenty of bald eagles over the years. He was not to know, at the time, what an exceptionally rare sighting this is. The location was in the area of Big Pine Point.
If you are out on the Marls and see this bird, please can you add a comment to this post or contact me at email@example.com, giving the date, time, approximate location… and if possible attaching a photograph. Any reports will add important data to the archive for the birds of Abaco, and of the Bahamas generally.
PREVIOUS ABACO SIGHTINGS
I checked Tony White’s compendious checklist compiled for BIRDS OF ABACO that contains all species recorded for Abaco since 1950. He categorised the Bald Eagle as a ‘V4’, indicating a vagrant species with a handful of irregular sightings – ever. I then contacted Bahamas bird guru Woody Bracey to check the details of earlier sightings. The answer is:
“Bald Eagles were sighted on Abaco three years running 2000-2002. In each instance it was over the Christmas Holiday period (12-20-1-10). I saw one in 2002 from the overlook near Treasure Cay looking out over the marls. Betsy (Woody’s wife) saw one over the chicken farm fields in 2001 but I missed it”.
Some people might mistake the Caribbean subspecies of Osprey (an all-white head) for a Bald Eagle but as Woody points out, “their flight and shape are very different”.
WHAT DO I LOOK OUT FOR? A large raptor with a dark body and wings, and a distinctive white head and tail
HOW CAN I TELL IT FROM AN OSPREY? By comparison with this Abaco Osprey
WHAT DO I LISTEN OUT FOR?
Image / audio credits: open source / David R Tribble / Craig Nash (Osprey)
This pair was in a group of 8 Atlantic Spotted Dolphins that we encountered yesterday during a day’s expedition on the Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organisation (BMMRO) research boat. We spent nearly an hour with them, and there will be a longer post about these magnificent creatures in due course. But right now, I’m still in single image posting mode while “on-island”…
The olive-capped warbler is one of Abaco’s 5 permanent resident warblers, out of 37 warbler species recorded for Abaco. The other PRs are: Bahama Warbler, Bahama Yellowthroat, Pine Warbler and Yellow Warbler.(Photo: Tom Sheley)