16 - 23 June 1996
by Aileen Bainton (AB), Bruce Hallett (BH) and Tony White (AW)
We visited Turks and Caicos Islands June 16-23, 1996. Our specific itinerary is shown below. We saw 63 species, not counting a possible Roseate Tern and domestic Mallards. From a tourist's point of view the trip highlights were the Cuban Crows, Greater Flamingos, White-tailed Tropicbirds and Pearly-eyed Thrashers. We have birded extensively in the Bahamas so many other species were very familiar to us. From the Turks and Caicos point of view the most important sightings were probably the Bank Swallow, Common Terns, and non-migrating shorebirds. We were impressed by the amount of outstanding shorebird and wader habitat including the old salt ponds, called salinas.
Like many tourist islands T&C are fairly expensive, but we found summer rates at the smaller inns reasonable and the quality of service very good. We needed a 4-wheel drive ($64 a day) to tour western Providenciales (called Provo). The day trip to North Caicos was the highlight. Airfare was $50 (Provo-North Caicos round trip), car rental another $55. We recommend Poppa Grunt's for lunch on North Caicos.
June 16 - Flew American Airlines to Provo, and T&C Airways to Grand Turk. Walked around Town Salina, Grand Turk. Stayed at Salt Raker Inn.
June 17 - Toured southern half of Grand Turk in AM. Northern half in PM when tide was low at North Creek.
June 18 - Chartered boat (expensive) to visit tern colony and iguanas on Long Cay.
June 19 - Flew to Provo, toured eastern half in PM. Stayed at Turtle Cove Inn.
June 20 - Toured eastern Provo again, visited Caicos Conch Farm.
June 21 - Day trip to North Caicos.
June 22 - Drove to Northwest Point in AM, AB and AW took Malcolm Roadstead Road in PM.
June 23 - AB and BH drove to South Dock area in AM. We all took "J&B Beach Cruise" to Fort George Cay, Pine Cay and Little Water Cay in PM.
June 24 - Departed.
Annotated species list:
(Abbreviations: PR = Providenciales, GT = Grand Turk, NC = North Caicos, LC = Long Cay, Turks Islands, and PC = Pine Cay)
Least Grebe - Not seen GT. Locally common PR; where juveniles and nest seen 6/20 on golf course ponds. 11 Whitby Salina and 1 Cottage Pond, NC 6/21.
Pied-billed Grebe - 3 Flamingo Pond and 1 Cottage Pond, NC 6/21.
White-tailed Tropicbird - 1 White Sands Beach, GT 6/17; 3 North Creek, GT 6/18; 3 LC 6/18; 12 South Dock area PR 6/23 (AB & BH), apparently breeding on cliffs there and William Dean Cay.
Brown Booby - 1 immature LC 6/18.
Brown Pelican - 1 Town Salina, GT 6/16; fairly common on PR and NC.
Magnificent Frigatebird - 1 female off south end of GT 6/18.
Great Blue Heron - 2 Flamingo Pond, NC 6/21.
Great Egret - 1 GT 6/17, 20 Flamingo Pond and Pumpkin Bluff Pond, NC 6/21; 1 Northwest Point Road, PR 6/22.
Snowy Egret - 25 Flamingo Pond and Pumpkin Bluff Pond, NC 6/21.
Little Blue Heron - 1 immature in pied plumage North Creek, GT 6/18 (AW).
Tricolored Heron - Common, seen almost daily.
Reddish Egret - Very common, especially on NC, seen daily.
Cattle Egret - Very common, seen almost daily, 80+ in colony at mouth of South Creek, GT 6/17.
Green Heron - Very common; juveniles seen on PR 6/19 & 20.
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron - Common, seen almost daily.
Greater Flamingo - 1 Hawks Nest Salina, GT 6/17; 18 North Creek, GT 6/17 & 18; 2 PR golf course 6/20; 1200 Flamingo Pond and 200+ Pumpkin Hill Pond, NC 6/21.
(Mallard) - Birds released at Turtle Cove, PR have interbred with domestic ducks and are dependent on humans. NOT COUNTABLE.
White-cheeked Pintail - Common, seen almost daily. Female with 7 young on mangrove pond Leeward Estates, PR 6/20.
Osprey - Uncommon; nests seen at North Creek, GT 6/18, Northwest Point, PR 6/22, and Three Marys Cays, NC 6/21.
American Kestrel - Common, seen every day except 6/18 when we took boat to LC. All birds were white breasted F. s. sparvaroides types although some had faint speckling on breast. Immatures?
Common Moorhen - 4 Flamingo Pond, NC 6/21.
Black-bellied Plover - 6 Hawks Nest Salina and North Creek, GT 6/17; 2 Juba Point Salina, PR 6/19.
Snowy Plover - 4 Hawks Nest Salina, GT 6/17.
Wilson's Plover - Very common in appropriate habitat, many young seen on PR.
Semipalmated Plover - 5 North Creek, GT 6/17.
Killdeer - Fairly common, distraction display seen frequently.
American Oystercatchers - Fairly common, seen almost daily.
Black-necked Stilt - Abundant. Young seen frequently.
Greater Yellowlegs - 1 Town Salina, GT 6/16 (AW & BH); 10 NC 6/21.
Willet - Not seen GT, common on PR and NC. Young seen Juba Point Salina 6/19.
Ruddy Turnstone - Fairly common. High counts; 20 GT 6/17 and 14 Caicos Conch Farm, PR 6/19.
Sanderling - 4 Hawks Nest Salina, GT 6/17. All in winter plumage.
Short-billed Dowitcher - 3 Hawks Nest Salina, GT 6/17; 1 Juba Point Salina, PR 6/19; 20 Flamingo Pond, NC 6/21.
Laughing Gull - Abundant.
Gull-billed Tern -Not seen GT. Common PR. Very common NC.
Royal Tern - 3 North Creek, GT 6/18; common along shore PR and NC.
Sandwich Tern - 15 GT 6/17; 12 North Creek GT 6/18; 5 PC 6/23.
(Roseate Tern) - 1 unidentified tern, possibly this species, seen with Sandwich and Common Terns PC 6/23.
Common Tern - 1 North Creek, GT 6/18 (dark wedges in wings noted in flight); 4 photographed PC 6/23.
Least Tern - Abundant all islands.
Bridled Tern - 25+ LC 6/18; 1 Chalk Sound, PR 6/22 (AB & BH). On LC they were nesting in rocks on windward side. Bridled/Sooty type terns were seen from shore White Sands Beach, GT 6/17, but they were too distant for identification.
Sooty Tern - 75+ nesting LC 6/18. 1 Flamingo Lake, PR 6/21.
Brown Noddy - 3 seen from White Sands Beach, GT 6/17, 200+ nesting LC 6/18. On eggs.
White-crowned Pigeon - Not seen GT. Common PR and NC.
White-winged Dove - 1 near South Creek, GT 6/17 (AW); very common PR and NC.
Zenaida Dove - 3 GT 6/17; uncommon PR, common NC.
Mourning Dove - Very common all islands.
Common Ground-Dove - Abundant all islands.
Mangrove Cuckoo - 7 NC 6/21; 1 near Blue Hills, PR 6/22.
Smooth-billed Ani - 1 GT 6/17; 2 Provo golf course, NC 6/20, 6 NC 6/21.
Antillean Nighthawk - Not seen GT. Abundant PR where up to 30 (1 female and the rest males) seen feeding low over closely mowed lawn at Provo Golf Course 6/19 & 22(latter date AB); 2 PC 6/23. Not seen on NC but we undoubtedly left the island too early in PM.
Bahama Woodstar - Fairly common GT, PR and NC. Usually seen around hotel gardens.
Gray Kingbird - Abundant all islands.
Bank Swallow - 1 Town Salina, Gt 6/16 (AW & BH). Bird was observed for about ten minutes and one time flew within 20 feet and banked showing clearly the brown bar across the chest.
Cuban Crow - Abundant NC, escpecially around Kew. 1 Leeward Going Through, PR 6/20, and 1 near golf course 6/22 (AB). This bird must be heard to be believed. The flock at Kew, sounded like a mixed flock of turkeys and chachalacas.
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - Fairly common GT and PR.
Northern Mockingbird - Abundant in developed areas all islands.
Bahama Mockingbird - 1 Colonel Murray Hill, GT 6/17. Common in undeveloped areas of PR, PC, and NC.
Pearly-eyed Thrasher - Not seen GT or PR. 10 NC 6/21 mostly along Sandy Point Road. 1 heard PC 6/23 (AW).
Thick-billed Vireo - Not seen GT; abundant PR and NC.
Black-whiskered Vireo - 1 heard near South Creek, GT 6/17; 8 seen/heard Long Bay Hills Estates, PR 6/19.
Yellow Warbler - Very common GT; locally common other islands. On GT Yellow Warblers were found in all habitats, on PR and NC they were only in mangroves. Only landbird found on LC 6/19.
Bananaquit - Common all islands.
Stripe-headed Tanager - Not seen GT, uncommon PR and NC. 2 seen per day.
Black-faced Grassquits - Not seen GT, common PR and NC.
Rock Iguanas - LC 6/19; Little Water Cay 6/23.