North American Birds

VOLUME 68 NO2 2015

A Quarterly Journal of Ornithological Record Published by the American Birding Association. The mission of the journal is to provide a complete overview of the changing panorama of our continent’s birdlife.

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S p ot t e d c r a k e at g u a d e lo u p e 172 n o r t h a m e r i c a n b i r d s These attributes rule out Sora and also rule out smaller Eurasian crake species such as Lit- tle Crake (P. parva) and Baillon's Crake (P. pu- silla) (Beaman and Madge 1998, Taylor 1998). Discussion Désirade Island (or La Désirade) is an island of 27 km² lying at the eastern end of the Gua- deloupe Archipelago. The vegetation on the island is xerophilic, as annual rainfall is very low. The island's outlying geographical location makes it favorable for the observation of rare migrants, both from North America and from the Old World. The two lagoons (2.8 ha and 1 ha) are the only areas of fresh water, making them particularly attractive to migrants. The lower water levels in the lagoon during the beginning of the year probably made this crake easier to observe; it is possible that it had been present in the area for several weeks or even several months. The bird stayed until 15 February; shortly thereafter, the lagoon dried out completely. During the same period, other European/ African species were observed in the Lesser Antilles. A Eurasian Teal (Anas [crecca] crecca) was also on Désirade Island 20 January 2014 and stayed into February (Levesque and Barré). Remarkably, a European Bee-eater (Merops api- aster) was photographed on Saint Lucia at the beginning of February, the frst record of this species for the New World (Michael Bryan). Lying at the eastern end of the Guadeloupe Archipelago, Désirade Island and the neighbor- ing island of Petite-Terre are prime locations for observations of trans-Atlantic migrants: Gray Heron (Ardea cinerea), Eurasian Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus phaeopus), Ruff (Calidris pugnax), Eurasian Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), and House Martin (Delichon urbicum) have all been recorded in Guadeloupe (Levesque and Saint-Auret 2008, Levesque et al. 2012, Lev- esque and Delcroix 2013). Other rail species from the Old World have also been recorded in the region. A Corncrake (Crex crex) appeared on 28 September 2003 and stayed until at least 2 October on Petite-Terre (Levesque and Saint-Auret 2008). More recently, on the island of Fernando de Noronha off the coast of Bra- zil, a Corncrake was found on 28 November 2012 (De Burgos and Olmos 2013). Despite the wide wintering range of the species, from southwestern Africa to Bangladesh, a vagrant Spotted Crake in the New World would seem unexpected, as the species' African wintering grounds lie mostly in the eastern portion of that continent (Birdlife International 2014). It is most likely that this bird was carried to Désirade Island by easterly trade winds after it had drifted offshore between European breed- Figure 1. The Spotted Crake's size, slightly larger than Soras also present, ruled out smaller species of Eurasian crake such as Little and Baillon's, which were also ruled out by the bird's spotted or speckled face, rear crown, nape, breast, and upperwing coverts. The bird's bill was thicker than bills of Little or Baillon's. This photograph was taken 8 February. Photograph by Frantz Delcroix. Figure 2. The warm brown rather than bufy or tan tones, above and below, suggest that the Spotted Crake was an adult in basic plumage; that age is also suggested by the well-developed head pattern (warm brown auriculars surrounded by gray) and the rich tones of olive-green, yellow, and red in the bill, seen best when the bill was not muddy. This photograph was taken 7 February. Photograph by Antoine Chabrolle.

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