TWO NEWS BIRDS FOR ST.KITTS????
Campbell Evelyn was a naturalist, an environmentalist and a patriot of St. Kitts & Nevis. He loved the outdoors and was an avid camper. He loved birding. And he also loved hunting! It is claimed that Campell could identify many birds, not only by sight or by sound, but also by taste!
He was instrumental in raising awareness in the protection of our natural heritage and many influential persons turned to him for advice on any area of concern with our environment. Campbell passed quietly in November 2012.
Recent research has revealed correspondence from Campbell Evelyn addressed to what was then the St.Kitts Heritage Society listing all of the birds that he had shot and those that he had sighted during the year 1974, some 40 years ago.
On the list of birds that he had shot were two interesting birds, a Wood duck and a Greater Scaup (along with the Lesser Scaup), and in respect to the list of birds that were sighted, was the Cotton Tree Plover, Hooked Billed Curlew and the Ring-Necked Plover.
The Wood Duck is interesting as we thought that the first recorded sighting in St. Kitts was in 2011, but it now appears that the first sighting was 1974. However, the Greater Scaup has not been sighted in St.Kitts before, and is listed as a vagrant to the Caribbean. The fact that Campbell has shot both the Lesser & Greater Scaups in 1974, would give him ample opportunity to examine them very closely, much more so than observations while either were swimming in a pond or flying. For this reason it is very likely that his reported observation is accurate.
The Hooked –Billed Curlew is a bit of a mystery. Curlews are not common, but as Whimbrals are very common during the summer, it is possible that the stated Hooked-billed Curlews were Whimbrals, as surprisingly, they were not on his list. Maybe it was a Godwit. Similarly, we are uncertain what bird is the Ring-necked plover, but perhaps it was the Piping plover, which we understand was not that uncommon in those days. The Bird of real interest though ,is the Cotton Tree Plover. Research indicates that this bird is not a plover at all, but really the Upland Sandpiper. The “Wild Birds Protection Act” of Barbados (dated June 20, 1907) clearly refers to the Cotton Tree Plover (Upland Sandpiper) as a protected bird. Details can be found athttp://faolex.fao.org/docs/pdf/bar41482.pdf Additionally, the book entitled “The List of Birds of Grenada” by John Grant Wells (1886), page 8,http://archive.org/stream/eningerribirrala00angu/eningerribirrala00angu_djvu.txt clearly refers to the Cotton Tree Plover as Bartramia longicauda or the Upland Sandpiper. Also, the published paper of The Birds of Antigua by John Danforth (1933) Page 359https://sora.unm.edu/sites/default/files/journals/auk/v051n03/p0350-p0364.pdf indicates a sighting of a Cotton tree Plover or Upland Sandpiper. Research indicates that many islands have recorded the Upland Sandpiper and it is likely that with our 9 fresh water ponds that this specie has visited us before.
Based on the forgoing, the Greater Scaup and the Upland Sandpiper can be considered very likely to have been sighted here so will be added to our unofficial list of birds for St.Kitts & Nevis under the caption “very probable”.