Grand Bahama

For one stop bird watching in the Bahamas come here in winter, where resident birds are joined by a multitude of migrant birds. For the fall migration, West End Point is the best place to see these travelers. If you are disembarking from a cruise ship or are a serious birder with limited time, stop in to the Rand Nature Centre. There you can get more information on the island’s best birding spots and all national parks in the Bahamas. Grand Bahama has vast Caribbean Pine forests, home to the Bahama Warbler, Bahama Yellowthroat and Bahama Swallow. An extensive road network allows access to great birding, especially along transition zones between habitats such as grasslands to forest.

Bahama race juvenile American Kestrel in nest cavity (Photo by Erika Gates)

Endemics: Bahama Swallow, Bahama Warbler, Bahama Yellowthroat, and Bahama Woodstar

Bahamian specialties: Cuban Pewee, La Sagra’s Flycatcher, Loggerhead Kingbird, Red-legged Thrush, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Olive-capped Warbler, Western Spindalis and Key West Quail Dove

Cuban Pewee (Photo by Carolyn Wardle)

Cuban Pewee (Photo by Carolyn Wardle)

Rand Nature Centre

Entrance is on East Settler’s Way, east of Coral Road. This 100 acre pine woodland is well worth a visit, with a ½ km trail to view many of the island’s birds and a pond in the rear with an observation platform. Look especially for the Bahama Warbler and the Olive-capped Warbler. Spend some time at the visitor centre.

Rand Nature Centre (Photo by Erika Gates)

Oliver-capped Warbler (Photo by Brian Stech)

Oliver-capped Warbler (Photo by Brian Stech)

Paradise Cove at Deadman’s Reef

West of Freeport, past Eight Mile Rock and Holmes Rock on the way to West End. This Red Mangrove Wetland is located in back of the Snorkel Resort area. In winter you will find migratory ducks and wading birds, including Blue-winged and Green-winged Teals, Black-necked Stilts, Great Blue Herons, and White Egrets. This is a good place for the Bahama Swallow in April through May. Further east near Freeport Harbour around Pinder’s Point area is another wetland that will yield similar results.

Birding at Paradise Cove wetland with Grand Bahama Birding Group (Photo by Erika Gates)

Taino Beach Nature Trail

East of Port Lucaya on the south shore. A hardwood coppice of approximately 20 acres is located behind the public Taino Beach area. Summer residents include Black-whiskered Vireo and Grey Kingbird. Local species to look for include the White-crowned Pigeon, Loggerhead Kingbird, La Sagra’s Flycatcher, and Thick-billed Vireo. In winter you will find a variety of warblers, including Black-throated Blue Warbler, American Redstart, and the passage migrant Blackpoll Warbler.

Reef Golf Course

East of Port Lucaya, north of Royal Palm Way and between Coral Road and Sea Horse Road. You will find 11 ponds on this golf course that are excellent for wading birds and the raptors that hunt them. 

Reef Golf Course (Photo by Erika Gates)

Staff and management are very birder friendly but make sure to check in at the clubhouse. They may even let you have a golf cart if you are a birder with physical disabilities or challenges (or in the late afternoon when the course is winding down for a small fee). Raptors of interest include American Kestrel (Bahamas race), Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Red-tailed Hawk and Osprey. Glossy Ibis, Snowy Egret, Tricolored Heron. Pied-billed Grebe and Least Grebe nest here.

2011 Grand Bahama Christmas Bird Count at Reef Golf Course (Photo by Erika Gates)

Garden of the Groves

East of Port Lucaya and just west of the Grand Lucayan Waterway, at the corner of Midshipman Road and Magellan Drive. The Garden of the Groves hosts over 60 species of birds with 12 acres of easy walking trails and several ponds. This is an excellent place for a birder’s lunch break with fresh salads, wraps, meat from the grill and is also open for supper.

Bridge over one of the ponds in Garden of the Groves (Photo by Erika Gates)

You’re never too young to start birding! (Photo by Erika Gates)

Birds of interest include White-cheeked Pintail, Common Gallinule (nests in spring), Cuban Emerald, Western Spindalis, Red-legged Thrush, Thick-billed Vireo, Loggerhead Kingbird, La Sagra’s Flycatcher, Greater Antillean Bullfinch.

Western Spindalis (Photo by Erika Gates)

In winter look for the Northern Parula, Northern and Louisiana Waterthrushes, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Cape May Warbler, American Redstart and other warblers, Scarlet Tanager, Summer Tanager, Painted Bunting, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, among many others.

Birding in Garden of the Groves (Photo by Erika Gates)

Lucayan National Park

Several miles east of the Grand Lacayan Waterway on the south shore. Well worth a visit, two acres of beaches and a sample of all Bahaman habitats including pine forest and mangroves provide a wide variety of birds. Lucayan National Park also protects the world’s longest known underwater cave system. Tours are available daily.

Peterson Cay National Park

This very small offshore island is a few hundred yards off the south shore near the Grand Lucayan Waterway. Grand Bahama Nature Tours provides tours to the Bridled Tern nesting colony on Peterson Cay, the smallest National Park in the Bahamas, by kayak or boat in the summer. There is also great snorkeling around the island, Call 242-373-2485 for more information.

Westend

This area is about 20 miles long by an average of one mile wide and encompasses a dormant golf course, wetlands and a coastal road. Due to its location as the most western landmass of Grand Bahama Island and its proximity to Florida, it as always been known as “migrant trap” where seabirds, shorebirds and land birds first arrive after leaving the U.S. mainland. Permission is required to access the golf course. 

Birding at Westend Bayshore Road with Grand Bahama Birding Group (Photo Provided by Erika Gates)

Birds observed have been Whimbrels, Roseate Spoonbills, Black Skimmers, Tri-colored Herons, Reddish Egrets, and Black Vultures (you may find many more species on eBird).

Roseate Spoonbill at Westend (Photo by Erika Gates)

Grand Bahama Birds’ B&B

This site is a private Garden and Bird Sanctuary at the home of Erika and Ed Gates also known as Grand Bahama Birders’ B&B. It is an eBird hotspot with 103 species recorded.

Advanced Certified Wildlife Habitat (Photo by Erika Gates)

Native vegetation and trees have been preserved providing nesting habitat, food sources and cover for Bahamian specialty birds. A small pond was created where seed feeders attract resident and migratory species. 

Pond at Grand Bahama Birders’ B&B (Photo by Erika Gates)

During migration, sprinklers are operated late afternoon which bring as many as 15 warbler species to several birdbaths.

Black and White Warbler (Photo by Erika Gates)

Nectar producing plants attract the endemic Bahama Woodstar as well as the indigenous Cuban Emerald Hummingbird. Please call for permission to enter property.

Cuban Emerald Hummingbird (Photo by Erika Gates)


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