Here’s an article by Abaco Parrot expert Caroline Stahala. She also has in-depth knowledge of the habits of West Indian Woodpeckers, not least because her observations of the nesting in boxes provided for them last year at the DELPHI CLUB ABACO to discourage them from drilling into the building itself… See THE RELUCTANT WOODPECKER. Caroline’s article suggests helpful ways to co-exist with the ‘peckers. They are unlikely to change their endearing little, er, ‘pecker-dillos’, but there are ways and means to prevent them driving you crazy when they take a noisy liking to your eaves and guttering…


PETER MANTLE has just posted some news – including woodpecker and general wildlife news – from the DELPHI CLUB. After a detailed bonefishing report , he writes:

The best bonefish of recent weeks remains an 8-or-so-pounder. In a rare encounter with tarpon, 2 guests from England had several shots at a group of four fish in the twenty-to-thirty pound range, but had no time to switch over to proper tarpon flies and therefore, to use a cricketing expression, failed to trouble the scorer.

The gorgeous weather seems to have ennervated all the local wildlife, not just the parrots. Sightings of dolphins, turtles, eagle rays and ospreys in the Marls are now almost commonplace. Countless butterflies of different hues flit through the Club gardens. The woodpeckers are nesting again in the box just outside the office and the hummingbirds are constantly feeding just feet from my desk. It’s the time of year that dreams are made of.

The week was rounded off by your blogger-in-chief setting a new Club record – for the smallest ever bonefish, a brute of half a pound, taken off the Club beach on a Delphi Daddy after a titanic struggle lasting all of 30 seconds, with lemon shark looking on in expectation.



The starting point / excuse for this post is the nest box for West Indian woodpeckers under the eaves of the Delphi Club verandah. Put ‘woodpecker’ into the home page SEARCH box and you will find various posts about last season’s epic: the reluctance to use the box; the gradual acceptance; the summer nesting and breeding; the heroic stand of the male woodpecker who guarded the box throughout the rampage of Hurricane Irene

Happy to roost here – deeply suspicious of the new wooden structure over there

(Later) No place like Home(©Peter Wesley Brown)

For some years, great spotted woodpeckers have drilled away at the grey poplar tree at the end of our small London garden. A male gouged out a number of exploratory holes near the top, strewing a carpet of wood chips onto the grass below. One year he attracted a mate, eggs were laid and hatched, a huge amount of chattering and scolding ensued – quite annoying at times in persistence and volume. One weekend we were away and returned to… silence. The fledgling woodpeckers had had their flying lessons and left for good. We missed them.

Since then, the male cleaned out the hole each Spring and drilled a few spare holes for practice, but despite his impressive real estate portfolio, he didn’t attract a mate. He made another, lower hole. No luck. Until this year. In January he brought a new bird home and together they mucked out the hole and settled in – about 2 months early, and with snow on the way. In the absence of current news of the West Indian woodpeckers and their nest at the Delphi Club, here are a few pictures of domestic bliss 4250 miles away… Click images to enlarge

A cosy home – hope the neighbours are nice 

Time to go and get a take-out…

…and bring it home for the wife

An act of gross provocation by a starling.  I predict trouble. News update soon

I can’t make out if the photo below is just a horrendously bad photo taken with a cheap camera, a fixed shutter speed, and cold shaking hands; or a powerful image of a beautiful bird artistically captured in full flight, the type of action shot that bird photographers strive for years to achieve (Mrs RH has a view on this). If the former, apologies. If the latter (highly unlikely), my professional tip is to use a tiny point ‘n’ shoot into the sun while moving around quite a bit. Whichever, I’ve awarded it a ‘cameo’ format to emphasise the essential artistry of the shot


Harvey Dog 
Special ‘Harvey the Potcake’ Logo


Jane Mantle has emailed me about the plight of dogs and puppies on Abaco, her involvement in their rescue, and the urgent need for funding for care and medicine:
“Since living here for the past couple of months I have  been helping to rescue the rescue dogs.  Abaco Animal Rescue recently rescued 9 pups (see attached picture of Delphi) from the roadside” 
Found with 8 other puppies by the roadside next to the body of their mother
“They were sitting next to the body of their decomposing mother with traffic and people passing by. Unfortunately even when rescued some of the pups have died due to lack of medication for them. There is a shelter of sorts built on the old municipal dump outside Marsh Harbour. It is OK but alive with rats that are as big as the pups! Abaco Animal Rescue consists of one english lady who basically funds everything herself”
Found chained in a box, exposed to the hot sun without any water, and beaten daily to make him become an aggressive fighting dog
“Is there anything that can be put up on your site? (RH: yes indeed!) The enclosed is a flyer that I have put up in the Great Room next to an empty glass collection jar. There is no money at all for food or basic medication, I have asked both Millie and Lucy to do some fund raising at school etc but that won’t happen until next term. I will also see if I can get hold of medication from vet friends that I have but would be grateful for any publicity that you can give it” 
Certainly. By all means. Here goes:

CLICK mini-Harvey ===>>>  

STOP PRESS An up-to-date (as at spring 2014) list of contacts and links can now be found at “A DOG’S LIFE”. Scroll to the end of the post. If you have time, maybe read a bit on the way…
HARVEY found abandoned by the side of the road

APPEAL  by Jane Mantle, Boris & Delphi          

POTTY ABOUT POTCAKES? Please support Abaco Animal Rescue by donating your unwanted Bahamian currency – notes or coins. All contributions go directly to buy food and veterinary supplies for the many abandoned and mistreated potcake dogs of Abaco



Caroline Stahala, a scientist from Florida, has spent some years studying the endemic parrots of Abaco. The Club is a convenient place from which to carry out some of her research. Evidence is growing that these protected parrots may not be a variant subspecies of the Cuban parrot, as previously believed, but are actually a species in their own right deserving their own distinct classification. Such a finding would be of major ornithological importance, and would further secure the protection of these beautiful birds and their habitat. This in turn will help to prevent the decline in their already small numbers. I hope to post news of Caroline’s research into this year’s parrot breeding season which begins next month


CLICK LINK for Article (Abaconian March 3 2011): Parrot Adventure with Caroline Stahala (BNT)

Abaco Parrot


This Spring has seen a number of birds – possibly tempted by Gareth’s cuisine – flying hard into the windows / doors of the Great Room and falling stunned onto the verandah. Luckily, Sandy has sometimes been on hand to scoop them up and gently let them come to their senses before releasing them.

WESTERN SPINDALIS (Spindalis Zena) or Stripe-Headed Tanager



NORTHERN PARULA: one of a large number of yellowy warbler types around Delphi


The Parula ID was confirmed by Craig Nash (see side-bar BLOGROLL for his Delphi birding links) and he has supplied his own much better photo of one, photographed in one of the drives – see CONTRIBUTIONS / PHOTOGRAPHS