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Map of Andros Island Bahamas - Small Hope All Inclusive

Getting to Andros Island, The Bahamas is very easy!
We may be slightly off the beaten path, but that's a big
part of our appeal. Even though we're not in the center of a big tourist hub (thankfully!) we're really quite accessible.

(more info on getting to Andros)

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Bird Watching Report 1

Diary Entries by Dr. Mike Baltz, University of Missouri

Wow, I can hardly wait for next year! We had an outstanding time at Small Hope and I've decided that the best way to describe the trip is to give a day-by-day accounting. The only thing that I won't repeat in every entry is how nice the weather was. We were never rained out and the sun shone everyday. A few cool evenings made a sweater feel good and we even had a fire in the fireplace one night! Next year we will follow a itinerary similar to that described below.

 

Jan. 10

Everyone arrived with all their luggage at Small Hope and we talked logistics while sitting on the outside patio sipping the drink of our choice (Diet Coke for me). The first bird of the trip was a Little Blue Heron that spent the entire week flying from the beach in front of the cabins to the beach in front of the lodge. After the short orientation everyone got a quick walking tour of the grounds highlighting the best birding areas. As if released from a cage, a clapper rail ran across the entrance road to the resort as I explained that watching the road was the best way to see rails. In the evening after dinner there were birds slides and everyone retired early, anxious for the next day's birding.

 

Jan. 11

Early breakfast beginning at 6:30 a.m. included scrambled eggs, bacon, fruit, juice cereal and milk. We were off to the settlement of Staniard Creek by 7:30 a.m. Staniard Creek is a short van ride from Small Hope and is one of the best birding locations in all of the Bahamas. It is a small settlement on the beach, connected to the mainland by a causeway road that cuts right through a dwarf red mangrove forest. We are here in search of Neotropical migrants, Black-cowled Orioles, and first looks at many of the dozens of West Indian resident species that we will see all week long.

Northern Parula
The morning was sunny and a bit breezy and the migrant warblers didn't disappoint as we walked along a lightly traveled road with mangroves on one side and backyard gardens on the other. We saw over a dozen warbler species including Cape May, Palm, Prairie, Yellow-throated, and Magnolia Warblers, Northern Parulas, Northern Waterthrushes, Ovenbirds, and others. We also get our first looks at Greater Antillean Bullfinches, Bananaquits, Black-cowled Orioles, and Black-faced Grassquits.

Black-cowled Oriole
Before leaving the settlement we scanned the mangroves for water birds and a sharp eye in the group spotted a Pied-billed Grebe as someone else sighted an Osprey circling overhead. Perhaps the best bird of the day was a Summer Tanager, a decidedly rare winter resident in the West Indies. The afternoon of this day was set aside for catching-up on sleep and/or taking the complimentary resort course for guests that are not certified SCUBA divers. Following an afternoon on the dock learning how to dive the next step for the interested guest is a shallow check-out dive, followed by an intermediate depth dive. After completing the second dive you are able to do all the dives that Small Hope offers. This is a great opportunity to experience SCUBA diving without having to spend several hundred dollars to get certified.

 

Jan 12

Up early and on the road again at 7:30 a.m. This morning we birded in the pine forests and visited one of the island's many blue holes; water-filled limestone sinkholes. In the pine forest we got "soul satisfying looks" at Pine Warblers, Stripe-headed Tanagers, Cuban Pewees, and Loggerhead Kingbirds. The Cuban Emerald Hummingbird doesn't stay in one place very long so we got several repeated glimpses of this little jewel. Bahama Swallows, one of the three species endemic to the Bahamas, flew over the still waters of the blue hole.

Black Throated Blue Warbler Andros Island
As always on Andros in the winter, there are migrant warblers: Prairie, Yellow-throated, and Black-throated Blue Warblers were most memorable today. In the afternoon, several members of the group helped me set-up the mist nets that we will be operating for the next three mornings. The nets are arranged in a line almost 200 meters long a short walk from the resort. The birds that are caught in the nets will be identified and marked with numbered aluminum leg bands. The netting does not harm the birds captured and recaptures of marked birds allows one to make estimates of survival rates and reproductive success. The intention of the netting project is to monitor migrant and resident bird populations by sampling them every year in the same place in January. The opportunity to assist in mist-netting activities, which every participant did and will be able to do in the future, is an experience of a lifetime for many.

 

Jan 13-15, mornings

Catching a bird on Andros Island
During the three mornings of netting we caught 68 individual birds of 21 species. Eleven of these species are Neotropical migrants including the difficult to observe Black-and-White, Worm-eating and Swainson's Warblers. We also caught several LaSagra's Flycatchers and Thick-billed Vireos and two Red-legged Thrushes. We didn't catch a Great Lizard Cuckoo but heard several near the nets. We should catch these individuals next year. A film crew from Nassau captured some of our activities on video and these images should show-up on a nationally televised program on eco-tourism later in the year.

 

Jan. 13, afternoon

We did some shopping during a trip to Fresh Creek and the world famous Androsia batik factory. The self-guided tour of the open-air factory allowed all to see every step of the process that culminates in the production of the beautiful, colorful tropical fabrics that few can leave the island without purchasing. The outlet store next to the factory allows one to buy clothing that still smells of the fresh Bahamian air!

Of course, there was birding. As usual several species of warblers were about in the almond and orchid trees near the outlet store. At the mouth of Fresh Creek we counted over three dozen Bahama Swallows, an endangered species whose world population is estimated at less than 20,000 individuals.

 

Jan 14, afternoon

Snowy Egret
We were on the water this afternoon for a three hour trip into the interior of the island via Fresh Creek, guided by the islands chief councillor, Peter Douglas. This was one of the highlights of the trip for some in the group. Andros is so vast and unspoiled! We saw several species of water birds including Reddish Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Belted Kingfishers, Osprey, and one lone Northern Shoveler. There was talk of dinner on Peter's houseboat next year after the trip to eat seafood and watch the wading birds flying to roost!

 

Jan 15, afternoon

This afternoon we met with the island commissioner to talk about Bahamian politics, health care, conservation, etc. For the political junkies in the group this was definitely a highlight. Mr. Gary Knowles is well spoken and obviously well educated and held the attention of the group for two hours. I could have listened to his assessment of the national political system for several more hours.

 

Jan 16

The running joke all week has been that whichever species we haven't seen on the trip we would see today. We decided to make today a "big day" which means that we will try to see as many species as we can today. First stop was the San Andros airport and the freshwater pond near the runway. Although the pond is less than half an acre in extent it is always a hotspot for a variety of things including, but not limited to, waterbirds. Today there were Blue-winged Teal, Gadwall, a Ring-necked Duck, American Coots, a Sora, and a Green Heron.

Green Heron
In the vegetation around the pond we saw a lone Savannah Sparrow and gobs of Yellow-rumped Warblers. The highlight of the airport stop for most, however, was hearing the prehistoric sounding calls of the resident Limpkins and getting a rare look at one before it snuck off into the underbrush. We made it to Red Bays about midmorning and met eighty-year-old Mrs. Amelia Marshall, the matriarch of the settlement, in her house working on baskets. Not only did she start basket weaving in the settlement but she is also a retired "granny" or mid-wife. She recalled some of her experiences as a mid-wife to the delight of the health care workers in the group. She has so much valuable information to share; I always lament that I can not spend an extended period of time with her recording her stories. The major objective of the trip to Red Bays was not only to meet Mrs. Marshall and some of the other basket weavers but also to buy some of these works of art.

Bahamas Mocking Bird
Although the baskets are sold for a fraction of the price you would pay for them in Nassau or the states, there is no middleman when buying direct from the artisans and all the money goes to the people of Red Bays. It is so satisfying to know the place and people behind a basket that sits in your house. Every time you look at it you can take a brief trip back to the islands remembering the sights and sounds of the settlement. After lunch back at the resort , we headed to the Fresh Creek airport south of Small Hope to find the endemic Bahama Woodstar hummingbird. This hummingbird species is much less common on Andros than the Cuban Emerald but I knew where to find one. There was a female defending a patch of pigeon pea flowers near the airport parking lot several days ago and she was there when we arrived. Everyone got good looks. There are some brackish ponds along the road between the airport and the resort and scanning them from the road we see Least and Pied-billed Grebes, Lesser Scaup, and White Ibises. A beach walk in the late afternoon produced a small flock of Lesser Yellowlegs; the ninetieth species of the trip!

No slide show tonight. I haven't mentioned the slide shows but we have had them almost every night before dinner. The topics included "Origin of Bahamian flora and fauna", "Bahamian plant identification", "Recent arrival and potential impact of Shiny Cowbirds in the Bahamas", and "Are Neotropical migrants really declining?" (the answer is that some are and some aren't, and some are doing different things in different parts of their ranges). The talks were short and informal and given before dinner so that everyone would stay awake. Before each slide presentation we sipped drinks and reviewed the bird sightings of the day. Conch fritters arrived promptly at 6:30 pm (not a minute too soon)!

 

Jan 17

Last days are always a little depressing. Back to the "real world". Many in the group were still going strong; snorkeling, kayaking, and beach combing. There is so much to do here! I have a feeling that many in the group will be returning. I hope to see you next year!

Andros Island, Bahamas 1/10-17/98

(Warning: This is my version of the group list, your list may look different).

 

Least Grebe                      SHBL Ponds
Pied Billed-Grebe1               SC, SHBL Ponds
Brown Pelican                    SHBL Beach
Great Blue Heron1                SHBL mangroves, FC boat ride
Green Heron                      SHBL mangroves, LHC, SA ponds
Little Blue Heron2               SHBL mangroves, FC boat ride, SC
Reddish Egret                    FC boat ride
Great Egret                      SHBL mangroves, FC boat ride
Snowy Egret1                     SHBL mangroves
Tricolored Heron                 SHBL mangroves
Yellow-crowned Night Heron       SHBL mangroves
Least Bittern1                   SHBL mangroves
White Ibis1                      Davis Creek mangroves Gadwall SA ponds
Blue-winged Teal                 SA and SHBL ponds
Northern                         Shoveller FC boat ride
Ring-necked Duck                 SA and SHBL ponds
Lesser Scaup                     SHBL ponds
Turkey Vulture                   Everywhere!
Red-tailed Hawk                  Road to Red Bay
Osprey2                          SHBL, SC, FC boatride
Peregrine                        Stafford Creek
Bridge Merlin                    SHBL dump
American Kestrel                 SC, SHBL beach
Limpkin                          SA ponds and vicinity
Clapper Rail                     SHBL mangroves Sora SA pond
Common Gallinule                 SHBL ponds
American Coot                    SA and SHBL ponds
American Oystercatcher           SHBL beach
Black-bellied Plover             SHBL beach
Ruddy Turnstone                  SHBL beach
Lesser Yellowlegs                SHBL beach
Dowitcher                        SHBL beach
Royal Tern                       SHBL beach
Mourning Dove                    SA ponds
Zenaida Dove                     SA ponds
Eurasian Collared Dove           SC, SHBL
Common Ground Dove*              Everywhere
Key West Quail Dove              SHBL coppice
Rock Dove                        SC
Mangrove Cuckoo                  SC
Great-lizard Cuckoo              heard near SHBL dump
Smooth-billed                    Ani Everywhere
Bahama Woodstar                  FC airport
Cuban Emerald                    pine forest
Belted Kingfisher                SC, SHBL, Fresh Creek boat ride
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker         SC, SHBL
Loggerhead Kingbird              SC wellfield rd, road to Red Bay
LaSagras Flycatcher*             SC wellfied rd, SHBL coppice
Cuban Pewee*                     SC wellfield rd, SHBL coppice
Bahama Swallow                   CBH, FC bridge
Northern Mockingbird*            Everywhere
Bahama Mockingbird*              SHBL coppice
Gray Catbird*                    Everywhere
Red-legged Thrush*               CBH, SHBL coppice
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher2           pine forest, SHBL coppice
House Sparrow                    LHC
Thick-billed Vireo*              Everywhere
Bananaquit*                      Everywhere
Black-and-White Warbler*         SHBL mangroves and coppice
Worm-eating Warbler*             SHBL mangroves and coppice
Tennessee Warbler                SC
Northern Parula                  Everywhere
Yellow-throated Warbler          Everywhere
Yellow Warbler2                  SC
Black-throated Blue Warbler*     SC wellfield rd, SHBL coppice
Magnolia Warbler                 SC
Cape May Warbler                 Everywhere
Yellow-rumped Warbler            SA ponds
Pine Warbler2                    pine forests
Prairie Warbler*                 Everywhere
Palm Warbler*                    Everywhere
Ovenbird*                        SC, SHBL coppice
Northern Waterthrush             SC, SHBL mangroves
Swainson's Warbler*              SHBL coppice
Common Yellowthroat*             Everywhere
Bahama Yellowthroat              heard in SHBL coppice
Hooded Warbler                   LHC
American Redstart*               Everywhere
Red-winged Blackbird             SHBL mangroves
Black-cowled Oriole              SC, SHBL dump
Northern Stripe-headed Tanager     Everywhere
Shiny Cowbird                    SHBL
Summer Tanager                   SC, LHC
Greater Antillean Bullfinch      Everywhere
Black-faced Grassquit            Everywhere
Savannah Sparrow                 SA ponds

 


Key to List

1 Extent to which species breeds on the island is not clear
2 Local populations supplemented by migrants during winter


Terms w/ a * = Species caught in mist nets

FC = Fresh Creek
SC = Staniard Creek
SA = San Andros
SHBL = Small Hope Bay Lodge
LHC = Lighthouse Club
CBH = Church's Blue Holes

 

Small Hope on Trip Advisor
TripAdvisor
261 reviews of Small Hope Bay Lodge in Andros
Small Hope Bay Lodge
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4.5 of 5 stars
Based on 261 traveler reviews
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Most Recent Traveler Reviews:
  • Jan 15, 2013: "Small Hope Bay, Andros Island, the Bahamas"
  • Jan 7, 2013: "Small HopeBay - The Friendly Getaway"
  • Nov 26, 2012: "Post Sandy Stay"
  • Nov 16, 2012: "Simply Paradise!!!"
  • Nov 10, 2012: "Everything's Included: Fun, Friends, Spaghetti for All,..."
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