Birdwatchers count hundreds of birds in Great Salt Pond

POSTED: 09/16/15 10:09 PM


Black-crowned night heron - Binkie van EsThis Black-Crowned Night Heron, a full time resident of the Great Salt Pond, made a rare appearance on Saturday. It is a shy bird that usually does not show itself during daylight hours and certainly not so openly, the photographer said. Photo courtesy Binkie van Es.

 St. Maarten – Birdwatcher Binkie van Es and two of his friends conducted a bird count yesterday for World Shorebird Day. The team did counts in the Great Salt Pond in Philipsburg and in the Salines d’Orient on the French side.

In the Great Salt Pond the birdwatchers saw 38 different species and they counted 1,398 birds.

“Remarkable was the big variety in the pond on account of the extreme low water levels. The pond attracted all kind of shorebirds that we normally would not see there,” Van Es said.

The birdwatchers found for instance three pectoral sandpipers. “Not new for St. Maarten, but new for me personally,” Van Es said. “There was a whimbrel and a really large group of laughing gulls. It looks like they are getting ready to depart.”

The team found the presence of a large number of barn swallows at this location remarkable.

In the Salines d’Orient the birdwatchers also found 38 species, but less abundance, – 243 birds in total.

“In that pond I saw the first two great blue herons for the season and my very first long-billed dowitcher. The least sandpipers are grouping together for the return trip,” Van Es said. “Nesting was not very successful this season. A lot of nesting locations were disturbed and I found many broken eggs with dead fetus material inside over the last two months.”

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