Freeport, Bahamas July 6-10, 2018
Our trip started by driving the 3.5 hours to Ft. Lauderdale Thursday after work. We crashed at the Roadway Inn, which offers free shuttle service and parking, near Port Everglades to catch the Balearia Ferry to Freeport Friday morning for some casual birding. On way across we grabbed a bite to eat and drink and Gallus went out on the back deck as we were a few miles from the port and spotted 2 Cory’s Shearwater and an Audubon’s Shearwater.
Upon arriving and clearing customs we got our rental car and headed straight for the Bahamian “Sands” Brewery to take the tour and enjoy a few cold beers before we could check into our rental for the next 4 nights. Birds and Beer always go well together.
Early on July 7th we headed off to the east about 30 minutes to the Pine Plantation in hopes of adding a few lifers and Caribbean specialties. We got only 12 species but did get some great photos of Bahama Warbler, lifer for Gallus, and we heard Olive-capped Warbler but no luck locating the bird unfortunately.
After a couple hours with no new species we headed over to the Garden of the Groves Botanical Gardens, however it was not open yet. So we instead grabbed some food and a couple of beers at Banana Bay before heading back into Freeport. After an afternoon of tourist activities, we headed over to the abandoned International Village for a photo shoot but also got some great bird and butterfly photos.
The next morning we rose early to head over to the International Airport in search of Antillean Nighthawks for Beck’s like list. After searching many trees Gallus spotted one perched on an exposed branch posed perfectly for photos.
Later in the morning we headed over to the Garden of the Groves Botanic Garden to meet Beck’s friend Bridgit who was going to help us find a few new birds the next day and to photograph some birds and butterflies. We did not see anything unusual among the 17 birds and 4 butterfly species we found but did some nice photos.
We spent the afternoon doing relaxing before heading over to the Garden of the Gates Birder’s B&B to meet with Erika Gates and watch a few more birds around her amazing property.
The next morning we met up with Bridgit for some birding and returned to the Pine Plantation in hopes of an Olive-capped Warbler sighting this time, no luck unfortunately and only 11 bird species but some very good photos of Black-faced Grassquit and La Sagra’s Flycatcher. So we headed to Owl’s Hole, a favorite local diving and swimming spot. Driving down the dirt road was quite an adventure in the rental car but was worth it. We had 17 species and 6 species of butterfly including Mexican Fritillary and Nickerbean Blue which were both lifers for us. The butterflies were everywhere it seemed and we had amazing views of Western Spindalis and Yellow-billed Cuckoo as well.
Upon leaving Owl’s Hole we headed to a spot where Bahama Swallows had been seen. On our way there Beck spotted an Antillian Nighthawk perched on side of the road in pine tree allowing for more photos, though not as close as one at airport. Our destination proved empty so we dipped on the swallows and continued on to Barbary Beach where Bahama Yellowthroat sometimes shows up but the afternoon heat kept most of the birds quiet with only 15 species and 9 butterfly. So we headed back to Freeport and dropped off Bridgit who arranged for us to meet Erika and get snorkeling gear and head to Paradise Cove to snorkel with Green Sea-turtles, lots of cool fish, and new fledged Gray Kingbirds in the parking lot. After returning the snorkel gear we headed over to Port Lucaya Marketplace for some food and drink. When we arrived we scored the nesting Rosy-faced Lovebird in the eves of the building with the House Sparrows! The bird was very cooperative for photographs.
The next morning July 10, our last day, we got up early and headed to the Garden of the Groves Botanical Gardens for some more birding. We tallied 19 species though nothing out of the ordinary it was a great way to wind down the trip before heading over to the port for the ferry back to Florida.
We returned rental car and caught the shuttle to the cruise port but had several hours to wait so we did what any good birders do, do more birding and butterflying. The port added a few species to our trip list including Magnificent Frigatebird, Florida Duskywing, and Dainty Sulphur.
At long last boarded the ferry after a weather delay and about an hour out Gallus spotted our last Bahama bird, another Cory’s Shearwater which we ran out onto the deck to get some photos of which all were less than perfect. Arriving in port very late, we were happy to get through US Customs, board the shuttle back to our car and make the long drive home where we arrived only an hour before Beck and I had to leave for work and a butterfly survey.
Great trip and we look forward to returning for our wedding and maybe even leading trips there in the future.
Trip Bird Total — 47
Trip Butterfly Total — 17