White-cheeked Pintail, Abaco 9


Hunt them. Then when you have found them, shoot them. But only with a camera, obviously… These attractive dabbling ducks are far too pretty for anything more controversial than watching and enjoying. Many moons ago I posted about them HERE, but I’m a bit cannier since then, and even have my own photos now…

NOTE Within hours of posting this, I was alerted (thanks, Tony W) to the inadvisability of (a) using the word ‘hunting’ in the title; and (b) the opening 2 sentences. (a) has been changed to the neutrally vanilla ‘finding’. (b) remain but with this warning: “It is illegal to shoot white-cheeked pintail in the Bahamas“. While I don’t imagine the readers of a blog like this will already have rushed to the gun cabinet, packed up a cartridge bag, added a couple of Kaliks and headed off  with extreme pintail population decrease in mind, I expect a  g**gle search for ‘hunting & shooting sweet small ducks’ could indeed provoke the odd (to very odd) person to assume it is open season for pintails. It isn’t. It never is.

White-cheeked Pintail, Abaco 1

The white-cheeked pintail Anas Bahamensis is also known as the Bahama Pintail. It is a gregarious species, often found in large numbers on lakes and ponds. An excellent place to see them on Abaco is at the pond by Hole 11 at Treasure Cay golf course. Don’t all rush at once – and if you do follow up the hint, check in  at the Clubhouse to get permission – there may be a competition in progress… You’ll see many other waterbird species there, and I will do a follow-up post about them. Do mind your head – if someone yells ‘fore’ they will probably not be counting duck species.White-cheeked Pintail, Abaco 3

The male and female of the species are very similar. However, in the image below there’s one bird that stands out from the others… and I don’t mean the American Coot. Near the bottom right is a LEUCISTIC variant of the Bahama Duck, a genetic condition similar to albinism.White-cheeked Pintail, Abaco 5

Here is a close-up of the same duck on dry land. These variants are known as Silver Bahama Pintails. They are worth more than the standard version. You can see some good comparative pictures and find out more at MALLARD LANE FARMSWhite-cheeked Pintail, Abaco 7

 Here is a more extreme wiki-example of a silver bahama pintail

Another excellent place for pintails is in the Crossing Rocks area of South Abaco. Strictly, it is on private land. And legally too, for that matter. So I won’t pinpoint these pintails publicly. There is a wonderful variety of waterbird life there. I have seen great egrets, little blue herons, yellow-crowned night herons, belted kingfishers and elegant BLACK-NECKED STILTS there, besides several duck species. I have also seen a sora there (twice), a small, furtive rail that skulks in the reeds and foliage at the edge of the water, profoundly hoping that you won’t notice it… If you are birding on Abaco from Delphi, ask Peter or Sandy for the location. Or else contact me.White-cheeked Pintail, Abaco 6

“On Reflection…”White-cheeked Pintail, Abaco 2


             27 AUGUST: HURRICANE IRENE & ABACO                 THE AFTERMATH & CLEAR-UP

22.30 GMT NO NEWS – GOOD NEWS? It’s some hours since I last posted because there has been little more emerging that I can usefully add in the way of information or helpful links. I suspect that significant communications problems are continuing today. Having just completed a further trawl for today’s news and online sites, I think I can fairly summarise the overall situation by saying that the extent of the damage caused by Irene has mercifully been rather less than expected; that no serious injuries have been reported; and that the snippets coming out of the various communities of Abaco indicate that most are as ok as one could hope in the circumstances.

I’m stopping for now, and I will provide any available updates tomorrow morning UK time, ready for when Abaco starts the day. I have now had a vast number of hits – more than 10,000 – over the last 3 days, and I hope a few people at least have found the blog helpful. Thanks for looking. I suspect that once communications are back to normal, I will be returning to the main idea of the blog –  the wildlife of Abaco – and my normal 20 hits a day! All the best for the rest of today. rh

16.00 GMT FURTHER NEWS: MARSH HARBOUR; TREASURE, GREEN TURTLE, MAN-o-WAR, ELBOW & GREAT GUANA CAYS; CHEROKEE & SANDY POINT Further to the Post below at 14.00, The Tribune has published further details of the situation on Abaco and the Cays. You will find additional information about specific areas in the forum posts below the main article, which also includes confirmation that “in South Abaco the communities of Cherokee and Sandy Point have reported minimal damage”. There is also the first news I have seen regarding members of the Haitian communities, who “were among the 300-plus residents who made use of public shelters during the storm, and were relieved to find the damage to their homes was minimal”. CLICK===>>> THE TRIBUNE page 3

14.00 GMT NEWS OF MARSH HARBOUR, TREASURE CAY, GREEN TURTLE CAY, CHEROKEE & SANDY POINT There are detailed Irene reports in The Tribune covering the last 3 or 4 days in the Bahamas generally. The latest post, from 19.30 LT last night, is most helpful for Abaco, so I reproduce it in full: 

THE TRIBUNE Friday, August 26, 2011

7:31pm – Phone lines are still down in Abaco, and there is no telephone communication with the cays, but The Tribune has learned damage to the islands is not as catastrophic as some may have feared. There has been some flooding in Green Turtle Cay, reportedly two feet of water at some buildings in New Plymouth, and wind damage to buildings on the north coast.

Flooding has also affected settlements on the north coast of Great Abaco Island, and Little Abaco Island in the north, with water flooding in the road at Coopers Town, as well as parts of Crown Haven, and there is up to four feet of water in parts of Blackwood.

Although trees are down, utility poles are down, and water has prevented road access, in the north end of Abaco, there has been no major damage, loss of life or injuries reported.

Marsh Harbour was spared flooding, as the storm attacked from the south, bringing down trees and utility poles, and tearing boats from their moorings, but today the community was out clearing the roads and putting things back in order.

Electricity is slowly being restored in Marsh Harbour and Treasure Cay, although landlines are down, some cell phones are working.

Marsh Harbour airport will open Saturday morning.

In South Abaco communities in Sandy Point and Cherokee have given similar reports of damage, of fallen trees and utilities, and minimal damage to buildings, as well as some flooding.   CLICK FOR MORE===>>> THE TRIBUNE

12.00 Noon GMT I have just got hold of the latest update, with today’s date, from the DELPHI CLUB Rolling Harbour (south of MH, Cherokee and Bahama Palm Shores,and north of Schooner Bay and Crossing Rocks) The news is good, (but it is worth repeating that the club is on a cliff above the beach, so has been spared any problems from the sea – other places will not have been so fortunate) 


27 August 2011

Contact at last and very good news – no major damage.

Caroline, who is currently caretaking the Club, is very badly shaken but she reports that, apart from some flooding and some minor breakages, there appears to be no serious damage to any of the buildings. Even the beach steps appear to have substantially survived.

The gardens, however, are blitzed and will require major reconstruction.

All in all, a very lucky escape.

11.00 GMT RUDDWIRE has put up a 5th storm update from Marsh Harbour. The Irene problems are light. His flight from MHI was rescheduled for today.  Click the name above to link.

10.00 GMT Hope Town Inn& Marina Facebook page (and see below under Media / News Links) is active and has posts from people asking for info and providing some. Photos are promised. One to keep an eye on. Re LITTLE HARBOUR to enquirer Brooke Lee, the message I had from Pete’s Pub yesterday afternoon was “Things down this way seem good”.

Local10.com has a 39-image slideshow of Abaco damage: CLICK===>>> ABACO DAMAGE 

Craig Roberts has posted a number of photos on Picasa from the BAHAMA BEACH CLUB Treasure Cay (hope you don’t mind me giving the link, Craig)

ABACOFORUM.COM (Irene pages): I have now had a chance to have a quick scan here – a few new posts. In summary, I get the impression that there is quite a lot of damage to trees and foliage etc, as expected, but thankfully rather less than expected to property – not structural, anyway.

PEOPLE So far I have not come across reports of any injuries (or worse, DV). STOP PRESS: this  still holds true 7 hours later at 17.00

09.00 GMT Marsh Harbour & Airport News (courtesy of Abaco Beach Resort / eTurboNews): There does not appear to be any serious damage to Abaco Beach Resort in Marsh Harbour, Abacos, Bahamas, post-Hurricane Irene. Guests and staff remained safe, secure, and dry during the massive hurricane that hovered over the resort yesterday. This weekend, engineers and surveyors will take a professional look at structures including the docks, which are described as “looking fine.” The hurricane caused minor damage to the resort’s exterior and landscape, with some tree and solar panel damage.

AIRPORT Although Hurricane Irene disrupted the outbound/inbound Marsh Harbor flight schedules, flight service to/from Marsh Harbor is scheduled to resume by Saturday, August 27. 

08.00 GMT  The “rollingharbour”wildlife blog has had more than 8000 hits in the last 48 hours (daily average 20!) so I guess a few people are finding the info I have been able to provide useful, especially with communication links with the island bad or (mainly) non-existent.

Today I will try to post as much as I can about the after-effects of Irene on Abaco from whatever I can get hold of (special thanks the Pete’s Pub, Little Harbour for the email yesterday). I hope to try to be as location-specific as possible – I had a lot of contact yesterday from people worried about relatives or friends around the Island and Cays. Scroll down this page or use the ‘Previous Posts’ section of the Sidebar for news of the last 2 days. Since Wednesday I have also learnt how to tweet, so check out that section near the top of the Sidebar.

We wish all other places in the path of Irene well, of course, but thankfully no more need for 3-hourly storm map updates here. I will put up or provide links to any amazing images, such as the space station fly-over posted yesterday. Meanwhile, here is a recap of useful links to media and news sources to check for updates now that the storm has passed


Local10.com an excellent resource that has featured very good making gifsfilm reports from Janine Stanwood in Marsh Harbour, with sensible and measured studio commentary as the situation developed.Well worth keeping an eye on this site. rh rating ***** for information and good reporting

HOPE TOWN INN & MARINA Good Facebook videos of Irene in action have been posted during the last 2 days, and now worth checking out for Elbow Cay updates. [Not looked yet, while I get this post done]

ABACO FORUM.COM the well-known local Abaco resource. NOTE the posts go backwards so click through to the end page. The posts about storms are in a  confusingly random order from 2006 to date, so check the dates as you read through – the majority of posts related to previous years. As yet – presumably because comms are down, there are relatively few posts for Irene. These are bound to increase over the next few days


WUNDERGOUND: To check out the wide variety of trackers, forecasts, radar maps and so forth, all on one convenient page CLICK===>>> IRENE

For more technical weather and tide stuff check out  BAROMETER BOB

The photograph below was taken by Caroline Stahala on the afternoon of 24 August, at Rolling Harbour on the east coast of Abaco about 25 miles south of Marsh Harbour, down towards Crossing Rocks. Irene was about 300 miles south