RARE BIRD SPOTTED IN ST. KITTS IN EARLY FEBRUARY 2022
By Michael Ryan
On February 3rd, literally a couple of days after a Hooded Merganser was spotted at the Cooling Pond on the Frigate Bay Golf Course, a golfer sent me a fuzzy picture of two large ducks on the number 1 hole. They certainly looked interesting, so after work that afternoon, I headed to the golf course and started to look for them. The Cooling Pond was still full of Birds, but no large ducks. I proceeded by no. 1 green, and yet no sign of them. Perhaps it was the small pond by tee box on hole no. 1, so I started up the fairway walking along the edge of the Pond, even though it was just starting to get dark. About halfway up the fairway, I stopped so abruptly that I nearly stumbled into the Pond! There they were, just 15 yards in front of me! Out came the camera, and few pictures later I was a happy birder! Two West Indian Whistling Ducks! Very rare for St.Kitts!
The West Indian Whistling Ducks are a dark brown, have a white abdomen with black markings, and an erect stance. They are listed as generally found and locally common residents of Cuba, Cayman Islands, and Bahamas, and much smaller numbers in Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and Antigua, but rarely anywhere else. A check of e-Bird website indicates only 1 previous sighting reported in St. Kitts over the past 40 odd years, although it is believed that they once bred on the island up to the late 1800s.