Birding North and Middle Caicos

The Turks and Caicos are a British territory at the end of the Bahamian archipeligo. Most people live on Providenciales ("Provo"), where most international flights land. To get to North Caicos, you take a ferry. With a rental car you can easily travel over all of North and Middle (connected by a causeway at the far end of North).

If you want to bird, start with the UKOTCF guide to birding North and Middle Caicos. These notes should be taken as supplementary to that book. They were made following a one-week trip to North and Middle Caicos in late December 2017. Most birders on Turks & Caicos don't use eBird so you can't rely on it. Note Some other trip reports you might find useful.

We'll start with American Flamingos. Flamingo Pond can have large numbers of flamingos as advertised, but we found that they were all quite far away. Even with a scope the views aren't great. We had much better views (with smaller, but substantial numbers) in the westernmost pond in the NW of North Caicos (currently mislabeled as "Cottage Pond" on Google Maps). This is the pond with the road that curves around its north side. This can be reached either from the harbor road or from the Whitby road. This road is passable even in a compact car but an SUV would be better. We also saw black-bellied plovers, greater yellowlegs, and white-cheeked pintails here.

The larger pond to the east of this one was mostly dead. The small pond on the corner near Whitby was quite good, with a flamingo, stilts, blue-winged teal, and both coots and gallinules.

We had white-crowned pigeon on the road between Kew and Whitby (closer to Kew) and on the north shore road from Whitby west. None of the looks were great, and all were near dusk.

I don't know how common it is but we had a very cooperative western spindalis on the Cottage Pond path. (This is the pond that has least grebe as advertised; we also had a kingfisher). Also here was thick-billed vireo, which is abundant throughout North and Middle but does not always give easy looks.

Despite several attempts we did not see Key West quail dove anywhere, including at Wade's Green. Our guide there said she had not seen one in many months, and she knew her doves---after we flushed a mourning dove she told us how her family used to catch and eat them. The plantation parking lot did have the best warbler diversity of any site we visited. Across the island, palm and Cape May are by far the most common warblers but we had other migrant warblers as well.

We dipped on West Indian whistling ducks. If you do go searching for them, apparently dusk is best. Don't get your hopes up.

We saw Bahama woodstar in a variety of places, but generally early in the morning and with brief looks.

Bahama mockingbirds are common; look for the "dirty" ones to separate from northern mockingbirds.

Unlike the book recommendation, we found Cuban crow mostly far from settlements, but it was common in many different places on both North and Middle.

We had oystercatchers on the beach near Sandy Point and again on the ferry back to Provo. There are lots of ruddy turnstones at the ferry docks.

The best site not listed in the UKOTCF guide at all is in the NW area near the best flamingo site mentioned above, near the western edge of the dirt part of the "north shore" road, so closer to the harbor. Look for a wide entryway into a large cleared area that looks like an abandoned construction site (if you make it all the way to the road near the abandoned Royal Reef development, you've gone too far). Park and walk to the right where there is dirt and rock piled in front of a marsh. You can stand on this. We had all of green, tricolored, and little blue heron in a tree simultaneously here, several duck species, Bahama woodstar, coots and gallinules, and heard both sora and clapper rail.

I don't know if you are supposed to, but the (abandoned) airport is open and you can walk down to the end for a direct look into, rather than over, Flamingo Pond. We had ani, clapper rail, and osprey here. No close flamingo looks, but maybe bad luck.

The "borrow pits" near the causeway on North were mostly empty.

The causeway to Middle Caicos is in excellent shape; ignore comments about problems from previous years. We had reddish egret on the causeway, closer to Middle.

The well-advertised Caicos Pine Trail (off the Kings Road, on Middle) is not readily accessible by vehicle at present, but you can approach from the west, park on the road at whatever puddle you feel you can't cross, and walk to the trailhead.