Birding the Americas Trip Report
and Planning Repository
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Dominica, Montserrat, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & Becquia
29 October - 14 November 2002
by David Klauber
From October 29 to November 14 I birded the Lesser Antilles and Puerto Rico.
This trip report is for the Lesser Antilles only, from October 30 through
November 9. Warblers are my favorite birds, and a main objective was
to see 4 species – Whistling, Plumbeous, Barbuda, and St. Lucia - as well
as the other endemics. I’m pleased to say mission accomplished. The original
idea was to visit all the islands with endemic birds from Barbuda and Montserrat
through Grenada, with a return stopover in Puerto Rico. The multi-island
“super pass” sold by LIAT airlines, allowing as many islands as you want
within 30 days, has risen considerably in price to $600 plus taxes.
Their other option is a 3-island pass where you can visit 3 islands, returning
to the point of origin, for $300 plus tax, about $340 total. When I actually
paid for the ticket in St. Lucia I was only charged EC $600, about $235 USA.
For both tickets you must book all the individual flights at least 1 week
in advance of the initial flight, with about $40 in fees for each subsequent
change - not much flexibility there.
I opted to drop off Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Grenada for this trip, missing
3 endemics, but reducing the costs significantly. Other factors to consider
are that each island has a departure tax averaging about $15-$20, and, excepting
the French territories, requires a special “temporary driving license”, also
averaging $15-$20. Car rentals tend to be pricey, usually about $70 per day,
although some better deals can be had. A multi-island cruise that allows
sufficient time for birding stops might be a reasonable alternative, but
I have no idea of the contacts or prices.
There is also a ferry service that visits St Lucia, Martinique, Dominica,
and Guadeloupe. Another factor to consider is that using local guides can
often be cheaper or at least no more expensive than renting a car, and of
course it helps the conservation cause. I went solo; with 2 or 3 people the
per-person costs would have been significantly less. I was very lucky with
the weather, never being rained out, and actually seeing little rain, although
it was the rainy season. I usually spent at least 2 days on each island to
allow for bad weather. St.Vincent could be done in one visit to Vermont Forest
and the Botanical Gardens.
Articles & Trip Reports taken from Birding the Americas
trip reports site:
Lesser Antilles Dec 2000 Gail Mackiernan – SL, Dominica, St Vincent – contacts,
detailed species info
Southern Caribbean Cruise Feb 2002 Mark Lockwood – Grenada, Dominica – contacts
Dominica March 1999 Edward Massiah
Bird Bonanzas LA Bird Cruise 1996 Mike Flieg
St Vincent & Grenadines May 1998 William & Susan Smith – better for
Lesser Antilles Nov 1999 Frank Frazier
Montserrat Oct 2001 Larry Manfredi – contact info
Windward Islands April 2002 Craig Faanes – good for Barbuda
Roland Wauer Feb & Aug 1990 Birding – not too much
www.visitmontserrat.com for schedules and prices on getting to Montserrat
Allan Sander & Mike Flieg – A Photographic Guide to the West Indies
– also excellent assistance through personal communications – Thanks guys!
Lonely Planet Eastern Caribbean, 3rd Edition, Sep 2001 – also has
good high level maps of each island
A Guide to the Birds of the West Indies – Raffaele, Wiley, etc - the
best around but very weak on subspecies, alternate plumages, and specific
distributions. For the relatively small number of specialties they should
have provided much more information
Birds of the West Indies – Bond, 5th edition, 1993 – virtually useless
AAA Caribbean Travel Book – also useless for my trip
Names and Contacts
St. Lucia – Lyndon John email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Lyndon is interested in receiving your bird sightings, especially regarding
migrants like US warblers. Stephen Lesmond, contacted through the Fox
Grove Inn at Mon Repos. Moses Wilfred - phone 450 – 6080. All 3 work
for the Forestry department
St. Vincent - Fitroy Springer email@example.com
Dominica – Bertrand Jno Baptiste firstname.lastname@example.org (there is an _
between dr and birdy) Phone: 446 6358 cell 245 4768
Barbuda – George Burton at 460-0103 home, or 773-5940 (cell)
Montserrat – James “Scriber” Daly at (664) 491 2546 (forestry dept),
491-3412 (home) E-mail is Scriber14@hotmail.com but he often doesn’t check
it or can’t receive it
CARS - I rented from Hertz and Budget, arranged in the USA before
arrival. Arranging car rentals in your country of origin is recommended,
as you can often get better deals and unlimited mileage. A 2-day rental with
Hertz on St. Lucia, unlimited mileage, automatic Compact, was $137 USA with
taxes. The highways are not in good shape and full of potholes, but generally
manageable, with the exception of the road to the Edmond Preserve. I forget
the exact price of gasoline, but it is a bit more than the USA. On Dominica
I rented from Budget, also compact automatic, unlimited mileage, $154 US
for 3 days. Roads here are good with fewer potholes. It is sometimes cheaper
and easier to use taxis or the local guides referenced earlier, especially
if there are 2 or more people. Each island has a small pocket sized map of
the island put out by their respective tourist bureaus. These are adequate
to get to most sites, although they lack detail.
AIR – Roundtrip from NY to St. Lucia was $490 plus taxes, totaling
nearly $600 US. I used a $500 voucher from a previously oversold flight where
I agreed to be bumped. See notes on LIAT airlines in the introduction. Phone
number for LIAT toll free San Juan, Puerto Rico, 8AM–5PM, at 800 – 468 0482,
or 268 – 480 –5600, when they feel like answering the phone. Their computers
go down for days at a time, and they can’t give you schedule information
when this happens. Persevere. In general the flights were on time or no more
than 30 minutes late. Note that the planes are small with no overhead compartments.
Also schedules can change frequently, so double check if you booked well
in advance. There is helicopter service to Montserrat, and air service on
a different airline to Barbuda (Carib Airways?)
Note that for each island they use the same generic entry form, which is
not always supplied by LIAT on their flights. When you find the forms, it
may save time in the future by getting extra copies if you will be visiting
more than one island. Both Dominica and St. Lucia have 2 airports, so verify
which one is used.
The unit of currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar, fixed at $2.67 to the
US dollar, but beware lower rates when using credit cards and at some hotels
and restaurants, often $2.60 or lower. I brought traveler’s checks, American
Express, US dollars, and some cash. The checks can be difficult to change
outside major cities or tourist areas. Every place accepted US dollars cash.
Some places accepted credit cards, but often at 2.60 to the dollar. Ask first,
it’s sometimes better to pay cash. I estimated total expenses for the 11
days in the Lesser Antilles were about $2100, which includes the LIAT airpass
for $235 and the two car rentals for about $300.
ACCOMMODATIONS & FOOD
This is not a low budget place. Cheaper hotels that might cost $15 in Mexico
would be around $45 on most islands. Anything “moderate” will usually cost
at least $60, often more. Hotels cost me $580 for 11 nights on 4 islands.
Food in local restaurants isn’t that costly. Water is usually safe to drink
and I drank tap water everywhere except Barbuda, where I had brought over
Antigua tap water for the day. Shops have limited supplies, and I survived
on granola and fruit bars that I brought from the USA for morning outings.
TELEPHONE / COMMUNICATIONS
I believe you can buy telephone cards that are good on several islands, but
I never tried. I managed to find Internet cafes on most islands with moderate
rates – about $5 EC per 30 minutes. I was unable to use my MCI phone card
on most islands, even though they were supposed to have access with the US
800 number. I don’t know and don’t care about AT&T since the bastards
screwed me before on a calling card.
Note that telephone calls between the Caribbean and the USA are very expensive,
about $1.75 a minute, so use e- mail as much as possible.
Most islands have one or two locations where you can find the endemics. They
are in the trip report.
I saw 105 species, and heard one more, with 25 lifers and 4 new for North
America. I saw all the single island endemics. My biggest misses were
Bridled Quail-Dove and Antillean Euphonia (heard only). Inquiries about specific
species will gladly be answered at: email@example.com
October 29, Tuesday – travel day
I caught a direct flight from New York JFK to St. Lucia Vigie airport near
Castries, changing planes in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I arrived on time around
8:45 PM. The bank at the airport was not open. Hertz had a car for me, but
I could not find the Chesterfield Inn in Castries. When a local finally helped
me find it, the elderly woman said she couldn’t accommodate me, although
there was nobody else there. She had made arrangements for me to stay at
the Ocean View, which she repeated twice. It turned out to be Sea View Apartments,
behind a Shell station with no apparent signs of life.
When I parked in the closed station, a man hanging out across the street
with some friends called out to me. He was the caretaker, opened the gates,
and showed me a rather nice studio apartment with AC. It was $59 rather than
Chesterfield’s $35, but it was 10 PM, and I took the room. The local language
or patois on St. Lucia seems to be a form of Creole – if you understand French,
you can understand the majority of what’s said. It’s very different from
the local dialects on the other islands.
October 30, Wednesday – St. Lucia, Edmond Forest Preserve
I started out at dawn south towards Soufriere. It took about an hour, then
another 20 minutes to drive about 5 of the 7 miles to the Edmond Preserve.
En route to Soufriere was a small flock of Lesser Antillean Swifts. The left
turn to Edmonds is just past the town center square where the buses are.
This road is beat to shit, with deteriorated broken pavement that leaves
big drop-offs. After bottoming out twice, I left my compact automatic in
front of a local woman’s house (Carol) and started walking the remaining
2 miles. I got a lift shortly on a flat bed pickup that was taking local
farmers to their fields.
I arrived at the unattended entrance at 7:45 and walked the trail in the
forest. I had a female St. Lucia Finch near the first patch of bamboo right
in the trail. There is a small bridge after about 15 minutes walk, which
is a good spot to look for parrots. I had a pair flying by on the left after
20 minutes, then another 3 closer to the right that disappeared into a nearby
clump of trees. Also seen were many Purple-throated Caribs, Antillean Crested
Hummingbird, LA Bullfinches, 1 St. Lucia Oriole, a bit past the bridge, LA
(St. Lucia) Pewee, LA Flycatcher, Scaly-breasted Thrasher, and Gray Trembler.
On the trail on the way back was a mountain crab with bright orange legs.
After a couple of hours I walked out to the entrance, which was now attended.
Note there is a rather hefty daily entrance fee of $10 US, which I paid.
At the entrance I finally saw a St. Lucia Warbler pair, which I had only
heard earlier. There was also a flyby cuckoo, probably Mangrove. I walked
back to my car, which was a pleasant walk through open forest. I drove back
to Soufriere for lunch and a bank to change money. After lunch I drove south
past the airport at Vieux Fort. This passes through very nice scenery, but
the winding roads, potholes, and road construction gave no opportunities
to admire the scenery. It took over an hour for the relatively short distance.
I continued around east and north to Mon Repos and the Fox Grove Inn, a bit
past the unsigned town of Micoud. This highway is less winding and in good
condition. The Fox Grove Inn is in a lovely spot with a distant view of the
sea, with Internet access. A Swiss woman, Ester, and her SL husband, who
is an excellent cook, run it. I had a room for $45 with taxes. There is a
short trail off to the left as you look towards the sea. There were St. Lucia
Warblers here, several medium size flocks of Shiny Cowbirds flying past about
5 PM, and a Bare-Eyed Robin/Thrush along the road by a small stream. Upon
finding out I was a birder, the owner contacted Stephen Lesmond, a forestry
department worker who lives nearby. Stephen said he would take me out birding
the next morning at Quilesse Forest. There was no fee per se. Weather was
sunny, hot, and humid.
October 31, Thursday – St. Lucia, Quilesse Forest Preserve and East
Stephen arrived at 6 AM by bicycle, and we set off on another potholed road,
but it was manageable in the car. We parked about ¼ mile before the
entrance, getting there after 45 minutes or so. While walking towards the
entrance we saw a Blackpoll Warbler, apparently rare for St. Lucia. When
we arrived at the entrance, where there is a covered picnic area and bathrooms,
we took the trail to the far right, which Stephen said was good for the finch.
Stephen knows his bird vocalizations well and pointed out the call of an
Antillean Euphonia, which we only heard and was the only one of the entire
trip. About 10 minutes along I spotted a male SL Black Finch, giving great
looks. It lowered its tail a lot, and the legs were bright pink. This bird
can be easily confused with the common LA Bullfinch, which also has light
colored legs. Note the tail dipping behavior, and the brighter pink legs.
A group of 3 Rufous-throated Solitaires were also in the area.
Also present were SL Warbler, Scaly-breasted Thrasher, and Gray Trembler.
We returned to the entrance area, and walked up the trail that goes up a
hill in the center and a bit to the right. We heard parrots squawking, and
shortly had a good look at a pair in nearby trees – much more satisfying
than the previous day. We also saw another SL Oriole. So I had seen all the
single island endemics at each of the 2 preserves. We left Quilesse before
8, returning to the car, and driving out to the airport area at Vieux Fort
where Stephen told me we could find Eared Dove. There was one perched on
the airport fence on the eastern side. It was the only one we saw – Stephen
said they were usually common on the western side.
Past the turnoff into town the coast is very close, and we saw 2 Brown Boobies
and a few Royal Terns flying by. At the far western side of the airport,
after the fence ends and just as the road goes up a hill, there is a small
wetland to the right, where Stephen said he always gets Masked Duck. Of course
this time we couldn’t find it, although Stephen said he thought he saw one
disappear as we arrived. We stayed about 30 minutes, but only saw a Moorhen.
Possibly the nearby loud airport construction scared them away.
We then drove back up the east coast, not very far past the Fox Grove Inn
turnoff, to a farm that was owned by his cousin. It was near the beginning
of the ridge that the highway climbs. This ridge is the area for the White-breasted
Thrasher, a localized 2–island endemic. Stephen said the best time for the
bird was around 11 AM. We parked on the side of the highway, and walked no
more than 5 minutes to the forested edge of a field. He pointed out an old
thrasher nest. He pished, then I played a tape of its song.
After a few tries the Thrasher appeared and gave an excellent look, staying
for over 10 minutes. Also in the area were Pearly-eyed and Scaly-breasted
Thrashers. This was about 10:30 AM. I drove Stephen back to the Fox Grove,
gave him $20, and drove up the east coast and over to Castries. I stopped
to confirm the road to Castries from a well-dressed woman at the road junction
on the west coast. I wound up taking her up the hills above Castries to look
at an apartment, then decided to drop off the car at the airport and buy
my LIAT airpass for the other islands. I was pleasantly surprised to
find they only charged me $600 EC, which was $234 US rather than the $300
plus tax I expected.
I took a taxi to Bon Apetit in Morne Fortune, on a hill above Castries. The
view of the Castries harbor is excellent. A very pleasant Barbadan woman
of British origin and her Scottish-Italian husband run it. The room was basic,
but OK. I arrived about 2:30 and there seemed to be some day traffic of couples.
Maybe this also serves as a short stay hotel. There is usually a restaurant
there, but due to decreased business after Sept 11, which incidentally has
hit the whole area hard, it was closed. Nonetheless she graciously cooked
me a nice fish dinner, didn’t charge me for the 2 sherries or the beer, and
only charged me $39 for the room and dinner – probably the best deal of the
trip. Weather – sunny, hot, humid.
For Part II of the St. Lucia birding click here.
November 1, Friday – St. Vincent, Botanical Gardens and Vermont Forest
A previously arranged taxi arrived at 6 AM to take me to the airport. I flew
to St. Vincent with a short stop and change of planes in Barbados, arriving
about 9 AM. Customs insisted on seeing my outward plane ticket – did they
think I was trying to immigrate illegally? I checked into the basic Heron
Hotel, $100EC plus taxes, total $117, for a room with AC, and took a cab
to the Botanical Gardens. There are several people at the entrance serving
as guides. I couldn’t shake one, insisting that I only wanted to bird by
myself, but he still followed me, explaining the various trees. Grenada Flycatcher
was seen quickly, a couple of hundred yards to the left of the entrance,
flying between the large trees. Black Hawk supposedly nests in the area,
and I saw one flying away up the mountains.
A frangipani tree had large black and yellow striped hornworm-like caterpillars.
The all black Bananaquit was here, as well as in the mountains. I read in
a trip report that the more normal yellow one can be found at coastal locations.
I only saw the black form. Bare-eyed Thrush was here, and Antillean Crested
Hummingbird. It was about 10 when I arrived on a hot sunny day, and I only
stayed about 45 minutes, also checking out the caged parrots. I walked back
through Kingstown and arranged a cab for an afternoon trip to Vermont forest.
I thought I had arranged $160 EC for 2 separate trips, but Richard the driver
said it was for one, as I found out later. So much for negotiating a bulk
purchase. Richard had a small booth outside the Heron Hotel. We left at 2:15,
arriving around 3, as he was an extremely slow driver.
The road up to Vermont is a bit rough in spots, but definitely driveable
in a normal car. Both he and a subsequent driver told me there had been a
well off local woman murdered there not too long ago, but the Vermont Forest
seems safe enough. I did not see anyone else on both visits, other than a
caretaker at the water tanks. It takes about 30-45 minutes to walk to the
parrot overlook, which has a wooden platform and benches. Mike Flieg had
advised me not to stop until the parrot overlook, since the target birds
are here. En route I glimpsed 2 or 3 thrushes, finally identifying a Cocoa
Thrush. After crossing the bridge and starting uphill I tried the Whistling
Warbler tape and had a nice look at a male. This was one of the main target
birds of the trip, and it’s a nice looking warbler.
Although I later heard a few singing near the parrot overlook, I did not
see any more, in spite of trying my tape. At the parrot overlook, I saw several
pairs of parrots flying in the distance. This is one of the most striking
parrots anywhere, with the white heads and yellow tails quite visible even
at a distance, but quite striking in the afternoon sunlight. I spent about
90 minutes at the overlook, also seeing Lesser Antillean Tanager and Brown
Trembler there. I returned to the beginning of the trail around 5:30, seeing
a pair of swifts flying over the water reservoirs – Lesser Antillean? My
driver arrived, and I returned to Kingstown, dining at Basil’s below the
nearby Cobblestone Inn. I got into a big dispute over the fare, as mentioned
earlier, and finally gave him $100EC, more than I thought was agreed upon,
although he was insisting on $140. I checked out their rooms, a huge improvement
over the Heron Hotel, costing $65, although I stayed at the Heron. These
rooms are nice and would be worth the price. I arranged another driver, Ken
Alexander, through the Heron Hotel for $100 EC, bargained down from $120.
Weather - sunny with no rain during the day and light showers in the evening.
November 2, Saturday – St. Vincent, Vermont Forest, and Becquia (Grenadines)
Ken arrived at 5:45 AM, but his car had problems, so he brought a friend,
Bertrand?, who took me there for $120 EC round trip. He was a good guy and
got me there in about 35 minutes. He opted to wait for me rather than make
2 more car trips. On the walk in there were parrots very close on the ridge,
but I couldn’t get a good look at them. I kicked up a Ruddy Quail-Dove en
route, and again I saw the male Whistling Warbler. I heard several throughout
the morning, but none responded to my tape. I saw another Cocoa Thrush, Brown
Trembler, Scaly-breasted Thrasher, and the blue crested form of the Antillean
Crested Hummingbird. I spent over 2 hours at the parrot overlook, again seeing
Lesser Antillean Tanager and the parrots, and another Whistling Warbler.
I only heard the Rufous-throated Solitaire, and was disappointed to miss
this dark-backed subspecies, which is not easy on St. Vincent.
Bertrand stopped at a local bar in Vermont to have a drink with his buddies,
showing me the delights of mixing rum, water, and coke – very strong rum
at that. I returned to Kingstown by 11:30 and took the 12:30 ferry to Becquia,
a bargain at $28EC round trip. It was a sunny crossing although there was
some rain after we arrived. All dark dolphins jumped out of the water. I
saw Brown Boobies, as well as an adult Red-Billed Tropicbird sitting in the
water, tail streamers sticking out. Most shops were closed, and I walked
along the waterfront, literally, as the path is at the water’s edge, to Maranne’s
Ice Cream shop. At the Gingerbread Café there are toilets behind the
building, and behind that is a road that goes up a small hill. Along this
small uphill road were Yellow-breasted Elaenias. The yellow Bananaquits were
Walking back on this back road about 100 yards I found a small flock of Eared
Doves drinking at a small puddle from the recent rain. William &
Susan Smith mention a spot for Rufous-vented Chachalaca further afield. It
would be well worth spending a day or 2 here if you can spare it, as this
looks like a quiet relaxing spot. A Brown Booby was circling the harbor constantly.
On the ferry back, he perched on the mast for 10 minutes. It was dusk, and
small groups of Brown and Red-Footed Boobies, brown and white morphs, were
flying by. I had dinner at Basil’s again. Weather - sunny, at times overcast,
and with showers at Becquia.
Species totals for St. Vincent & Becquia – 39 plus 1 heard
November 3, Sunday – Antigua, little birding
7:40 AM flight to Antigua, arriving at 9:15. I had previously booked 3 nights
at Lashings at Runaway Bay through the Internet for $165 including all taxes.
The room was nice, right on the beach, with fan but no AC. They have a 24-hour
bar situated far enough from the rooms that it’s not a disturbance. This
was mostly a day off. There is a lagoon opposite Lashings where I birded
from 10:45-11:30. It was hot but there were a few shorebirds – Wilson’s,
Black-bellied, and Semipalmated Plover, Ruddy Turnstones, and a White-rumped
Sandpiper, among others. Yellow Warbler was in the bushes along the lagoon,
possibly the “Golden” Yellow Warbler. I spent the day relaxing and at the
beach, then walked around the right side and up the dirt path dividing the
2 bodies of water. White-cheeked Pintails were at the far side of the lagoon.
I walked along the road that borders the lagoon for a mile or so, seeing
more shorebirds, a Blue-winged Teal, and surprisingly 2 Lesser Black-backed
Gulls, the only gulls around. Another White-rumped Sandpiper was seen and
a Blue-winged Teal also. Weather – sunny and hot, clouds in mid-afternoon
November 4, Monday – Montserrat
I took the hydrofoil to Montserrat for $120EC, leaving at 6:30 AM. If you
go Saturday, the ticket is only $75 EC. While waiting on the Antigua dock
I saw my only Laughing Gull, an adult in alternate plumage, a flyby White-crowned
Pigeon, Sandwich and Royal Terns. I had made previous arrangements with James
“Scriber” Daly, who met me after the customs booth. He charged me $40 US
for the morning, quite fair. Scriber is a great guy, good to bird with. Our
first stop was on a road to the left of the bank about 10-15 minute’s drive
from the dock.
We drove a short distance to a house, then walked up a trail about 20-30
minutes. We had a male Montserrat Oriole come in to a tape at very close
range. Forest Thrush was heard, and I saw the head of a bird with the yellow
eye ring. A female oriole was seen on the way out. After an hour or two here,
Scriber took me to another spot further up the road past the town of Salem.
This trail followed a water pipe, as did the previous one, but this area
was more forested. Scriber kicked up 2 Bridled Quail-Doves on the way back,
but I didn’t see either one – the big miss of the trip for me.
We stopped at a concrete water storage tank, where there was a fruiting tree.
I got a short, but good look at the Forest Thrush. Also in this tree were
Scaly-breasted and Pearly-eyed Thrasher, and Northern Parula Warbler was
in the vicinity. We had lunch in Salem. The volcano obviously disrupted the
life of the locals. Scriber’s family is living in England, and he only gets
to see them once a year, but is hopeful they can return to Montserrat soon.
We could see the volcano surrounded in haze from the second location. Scriber
dropped me off at a small pond about a mile from the ferry on the main road.
It feeds into the sea.
There was a Snipe here, and according to Scriber ducks, but not today. Be
careful of the stinging machinel trees here – don’t touch anything. There
was a large iguana sunning on a tree branch. Other than a Belted Kingfisher
and a distant Merlin, I didn’t see much else. I spent another couple of hours
killing time by the ferry, and returned to Antigua, having dinner at the
Commissioner’s Grill in St. John’s, very nice although a little pricey. The
local black pineapple is delicious – very sweet. Weather – hot, sunny, humid.
Species total for Montserrat – 28 plus 2 heard, plus 2 by Scriber (CommonMoorhen,
NOTE: If you have been in Antigua for less than 1 day when you do the day
trip to Montserrat, you are not charged the departure tax from Antigua. If
you have been there more than 24 hours, you are hit with the departure tax,
and again when you finally exit the country.
November 5, Tuesday – Barbuda
I flew to Barbuda for $72 US return on Carib Aviation, leaving around 7:30.
The return flight actually left 10 minutes early. It’s a short flight, less
than 30 minutes. Using Craig Faane’s trip report as a guide, I turned right
from the airport. You actually have to follow the airport boundary, turning
right, then right again at the southern (?) boundary, following the fence.
After walking about 20 minutes, George Burton found me. He is the local guide
and arranger of transport. I told him I did not want the tour, as it was
too expensive for me solo. I agreed to let him take me to the spot for the
Barbuda Warbler, saving me maybe 30 minutes walking in the heat.
This is quite easy to find. Along the main road that goes south, about 2
miles from the airport is a thick section of pipe on the left. There is an
embankment about 100-200 feet to the left, which apparently has water sometimes,
but was bone dry with no signs of having been a pond when I visited. There
is a pond on the right as well, mostly dry. Just before reaching the embankment
I heard a warbler sing, and shortly thereafter saw the Barbuda Warbler. There
are several paths through the scrub, some of which peter out into thick scrub.
Just walk through the larger paths. If you continue about a hundred yards
past the pipe on the main road, there is a wide dirt track to the left that
goes in a ways.
I saw and heard many Barbuda Warblers during the 3 hours I spent here. I
spooked a pair of Helmeted Guineafowl past the embankment. I also had excellent
looks at Lesser Antillean Flycatcher, berlepshcii subspecies, Mangrove
Cuckoo, and Caribbean Elaenias. George picked me up at 11 AM, and took me
up the road near Coco’s, where he had to go to visit his son. He dropped
me off by some ponds with mangroves(?) along the edges. I saw White-cheeked
Pintail, Stilt Sandpipers, and a few other shorebirds. Walking up a few hundred
yards there are large salt pans and dry open areas adjoining lagoons. I saw
Wilson’s Plover, White-rumped and a pair of Pectoral Sandpipers here, as
well as a few peeps.
George drove me back to a restaurant by the dock, where I had a cheap but
decent lunch, seeing Snipe in the marshy area adjacent. George arranged to
get me on a boat trip to the Magnificent Frigatebird colony with 2 other
Americans who were staying at his sister’s guesthouse. We left for the Frigatebird
colony about 2 PM. It was mating season, and the Frigatebirds were in full
display, huge red ballon-like throat pouches puffed up. There were a couple
of Brown Boobies perched in trees. I had thought only the Red-footed Boobies
perched in trees, but maybe it’s the only one that nests in trees.
We also stopped at a very nice beach, supposedly planned for development.
The boat trip lasted about 90 minutes. I spent the rest of the time walking
around the town, looking for hummingbirds and swallows. There were Cliff
Swallows with Barn Swallows at the airport, supposedly rare for Barbuda.
The return flight actually left 10 minutes early, and I returned to Lashings
for dinner and the delights of beach cricket, the Tuesday night event.
The arrangement with George Burton had been a bit loose, and I gave him $100
EC. There is a place in the lagoon not far from the wharf where West Indian
Whistling Ducks come in the evening, which would be a worthwhile trip for
anyone staying overnight at Barbuda. I believe the American couple paid $80
US per night to stay at George’s sisters’ place. George is the man for trips
on Barbuda, and asked that I let people know that. Weather was hot and sunny,
with some light to moderate wind.
Species totals for Antigua and Barbuda – 57 and 1 heard
November 6, Wednesday – Dominica, various spots
6:30 AM flight to Dominica, stopping at Guadeloupe en route, arriving at
Dominica 8:15. I had heard great things about Dominica, but my initial impressions
were not good. The customs guy was a jerk, chastising me for not cutting
the line (!) to get the customs form, making me wait until the others had
been processed. I picked up the mandatory “temporary” driver’s license from
the same customs guy for $30EC. Budget had not received my reservation from
the US office, and there was nobody to meet me.
The information office called them, and somebody quickly arrived to take
me to the Budget office, which was a few minutes down the road. I had to
wait about 45 minutes while Budget found me a compact automatic, but the
local rep was extremely helpful. There was a bakery next door, and he ordered
by stepping on concrete blocks and shouting over a wall through the back
door to get me something to eat and drink. Everything after this in Dominica
went well. This is a beautiful island – lush, undeveloped, mountainous, with
helpful, pleasant people, and a cultural touch with a local population of
I drove to the Springfield Plantation Guest House and told them I would be
staying there the subsequent 2 nights, but not tonight. Note they have slightly
modified their e mail address; it’s now firstname.lastname@example.org (formerly there
was no “2”). I drove about 20 minutes to Emerald Pool, arriving about 10:00.
It was hot and pretty quiet, but I got a Plumbeous Warbler near the entrance
on the way out, completing my sweep of the 4 target warblers for the trip.
The road from Springfield to Emerald Pool has some big potholes, and was
the worst stretch of highway that I encountered on Dominica.
I drove out to Castle Bruce and up the east coast, a lovely drive that only
took an hour or two to get to Calibishie on the northeast coast. I had lunch
at a very nice terrace restaurant on the beach run by a Canadian expat and
his Dominican wife. I drove around through Portsmouth to the Portsmouth Beach
Hotel, where I got a room for $60 US plus tax, totaling $69. This was a rather
nice dormitory type room with AC, with the beach at the end of the hallway.
There is a strange setup here – there are actually 2 hotels, with 2 different
price structures. Many students are in these rooms, as there is a nearby
medical school. The advantage of this place is that it’s only 30 minutes
to the Syndicat Trail, which is where I went from 3:30 to 5:30, looking for
parrots. It’s 7 km to the turnoff, then another 8 km mostly uphill to the
Syndicat Trail, which is well signposted. It’s only a 5-minute walk to the
first parrot overlook, which I had read was the best. I saw several Red-necked
Parrots, or Jacquots. They are a bright emerald green, with blue wings, and
a bright yellow-green tail, key for separating it from the Imperial Parrot,
called Sisserou, with a darker tail.
Blue-headed Hummingbird was feeding on an agave-like plant at the overlook.
I had seen one also outside the reception for the Portsmouth Beach Hotel.
Lesser Antillean Swifts flew by, and a pair of Plumbeous Warblers was at
the beginning of the trail. The second overlook seemed completely overgrown.
The third was good in that the parrots were a bit closer and against the
green mountains, allowing better looks. However, this was a bit lower, and
Raffaele says the Imperials prefer higher altitudes. I spent most of my time
waiting at the 1st one, also seeing Pearly-eyed Thrasher and Brown Trembler.
I drove back to Portsmouth just after dark, looking for the Catholic church
that was supposed to have the local race of Barn Owl. I finally found the
church, which is inland about 2 blocks from the main road that goes to Cabrits
Park. Mass or choir practice was in full swing, and I didn’t see any owl
in he steeple. I returned to the hotel for dinner. Weather was hot and sunny.
Note: The next afternoon I contacted Bertrand Jno Baptiste,
a bird guide who lives in Coulibistrie, south of Portsmouth, who told me
that the owl is usually present at the church, and that he had seen 4 or
5 birds in fields near where he lives. My recommendation is that if you have
3 days in Dominica, spend 2 nights in this area, since the Imperial Parrot
is tough and requires repeat visits, and you could also see the local race
of Barn Owl in the area. I never saw it, because I didn’t want to drive back
the next day to Springfield at night on Friday.
Second note: Dominica charges admission for most sites. The
best bet is probably to buy the week pass for $10 US. Nobody is there to
check at Syndicat, but they do check at Emerald Pool and Cabrits. In any
event Dominica is doing a great job of preserving habitat and it all helps
November 7, Thursday – Dominica, Syndicat Trail and Cabrits Park
I set off early, arriving at the Syndicat Trail at 6 AM. On the first 2 km
along the road to Syndicat a couple of large dark birds with white tail edges
flew off. I realized on the way out that they were Red-legged Thrushes. On
the way up the Syndicat Trail I spooked a quail-dove, not seen well. The
first bird I saw at the overlook was a Little Blue Heron, which flew up from
the river below to perch on a treetop for 5 minutes. I stayed at the first
parrot overlook from 6 to 9, seeing quite a few Jacquots, the Blue-headed
Hummingbird, seemingly territorial, LA Saltator, but no Imperials. I think
I saw 2 fly up the mountain, but it was a distant view.
I checked out overlook 3 from 9:15 to 10:15, but only saw Jacquots, giving
good views against the nearby green mountains. I heard but did not see Rufous-throated
Solitaire. I saw the dark brown local race of House Wren, which has a different
call from the North American one. Lesser Antillean Pewee was near the small
bridge by the trail beginning. I returned to the hotel and drove to the Catholic
church. It was open and I went inside, climbing up a ladder into the steeple.
There were no signs of an owl, only a dead bat. Next stop was Cabrit Park,
even though I had read it was disappointing for birds.
Many of the walks are shaded even at midday and there are some interesting
ruins. Caribbean Elaenia and Northern Waterthrush were here and some more
common birds, along with a couple of snakes and interesting lizards. You
could easily spend a few hours here exploring the wooded trails and ruins.
I only stayed about 90 minutes, since I had a rematch with the Sisserou,
and it was very humid walking the trails. I got back to Syndicat at 3 PM,
this time finding a small group of eco-tourists at the overlook. We all waited
a while, seeing more Jacquots. The guide said the 3rd overlook was his personal
favorite, since the views against the mountains were better, and he often
saw the Imperials there.
About 5 minutes after they left for overlook 3 a lone Imperial flew in from
behind me to a tree on the other side of the hill. A scope would have helped
immensely, but the dark red colored tail was in striking contrast to the
bright yellow-green tail of the Jacquots. He stayed put, but never gave me
a frontal view. I had called out to the others, but they were too far away.
I had not seen the Green-throated Carib yet, at least not well, and the guide
said they could be found at the second stream crossing (the first if you’re
driving up the road). I pulled over past the second stream crossing and found
a flowering tree full of hummers, including the GT Carib.
Lower down, within a mile or so of the highway, I had a good luck at a Red-legged
Thrush in a tree by the road. I drove the hour-long drive to Springfield
Plantation House, arriving just after dark. En route a very large (fruit?)
bat flew past the highway. I had an excellent meal at Springfield. Two nights,
two dinners, and one breakfast cost me $189 US – not that cheap, but it’s
in an excellent location, surrounded by a few hundred acres of forest. It’s
an old wooden plantation house, grandiose in its own way, with large rooms,
although there are no screens on the windows. Fortunately I wasn’t bothered
by mosquitoes. My shower didn’t work, and I had to shower in another room.
Their pay phone was the only one where my MCI 800 access number worked.
Weather again was hot and humid, with a brief shower.
November 8, Friday – Dominica, Emerald Pool, Springfield grounds, drive
I had read that it is essential to get to the Emerald Pool at or before dawn
to see the Forest Thrush. I left at 5:15, arriving at 5:35. It was still
dark and the gate was closed, but not locked, so I opened it and parked inside.
A guy was asleep in his pickup and when he spoke to me I told him I had the
pass and that I had closed the gate. When I left at 7:15 he was gone. I walked
to the picnic area, only a few minutes from the entrance. The first bird
was the usual LA Bullfinch in half-light. Next was a House Wren, which approached
About 6:10 I turned from watching the wren to see the Forest Thrush quite
close in the middle of the trail, as you look away from the picnic area towards
the bathrooms, away from the entrance. He hopped up the trail to a mossy
log on the bend, then flew off. I had a tape and later tried it, but it was
not effective. I did not hear the bird calling. I walked up the trail a bit,
and saw it fly off near the locked bathroom cabinets. About 10 minutes later
I returned and saw it again feeding by the mossy logs at the bend in the
trail. I tried to get camcorder footage in the poor light, which didn’t come
out well. The bird flew off and I didn’t see it again. I walked the trail,
again hearing, but not seeing the Solitaire.
I got back to Springfield where they decided to give me a fruit breakfast,
accompanied by Bullfinches waiting for handouts. I birded the grounds from
about 8-9, before breakfast, walking down the trail to the right of the house,
looking towards the sea. Apparently this trail goes for a couple of miles,
but I only went a few hundred yards, seeing LA Pewee, LA Flycatcher, Scaly-breasted
Thrasher by the patio, Plumbeous Warblers, LA Saltator, and all 4 hummingbirds.
Quite a decent yard list here! After breakfast I relaxed then went to the
cave by the Hummingbird Inn road, another spot for Barn Owl. I scrambled
up the loose rock and soil, not that easy, to the cave entrance. Many swallow-sized
bats, an abandoned nest with broken egg to the left (Zenaida Dove?), but
no signs of an owl. It would be possible to climb into dark crevasses with
a flashlight and look, but I hadn’t brought mine, and gave up. No owl for
Dave this trip.
Next was a short stop at the Botanical Gardens to check out the caged parrots,
Red-Necked and Imperial. The lady sweeping said I couldn’t go in, then grudgingly
asked me to be quick. The Imperial is a beautiful parrot, although one of
the two birds has a deformed bill. I drove south through the small town of
Soufriere, and the smaller town of Scott’s Head on the southwest tip of the
island. I had a drink at the overpriced but well situated Hersche’s Beach
bar. This was a nice drive, but I didn’t stop for any birding. I had lunch
in Roseau at the rather posh and very nice La Robe Creole, and returned to
the Springfield for the rest of the day. After a siesta I birded the same
trail from 4 to 5:15, seeing the same birds as mentioned earlier, as well
as finally seeing a Rufous-throated Solitaire, the only one on Dominica.
The local House Wren was here, Mangrove Cuckoo, an unidentified large dark
heron flew up from the forest trail, and Yellow Warbler was near the terrace.
During a beautiful sunset watching the distant sea a Peregrine Falcon soared
in the distance. A nice dinner finished the day. Incidentally, there was
no alcohol here during my stay, but they made a tasty fruit juice of fresh
banana and grapefruit. Weather was hot and sunny, with rain from 2-3.
Species total for Dominica - 42
November 9, Saturday – St. Lucia, northeast
I spent 30 minutes birding near the terrace, then drove to the Budget office,
and flew to St. Lucia, arriving at 8:20. This time I stayed at the Modern
Inn, only a few minutes drive north of the airport. I had an adequate room
with AC for $35 US, with a common kitchen area with a large refrigerator.
There is a shopping center about 5 minutes walk north with shops, a supermarket,
cafes, an internet shop and a cab stand. Through Lyndon John I had arranged
to try for the House Wren and Nightjar with his colleague Moses Wilfred,
even though it was the wrong season for the nightjar.
I visited the shopping center in the morning, and took it easy until 3 PM.
Moses phoned to say he would be a little late, arriving about 3:15 and driving
me inland towards Desbarra on the east side, where he lived, almost an hour’s
drive on bad roads. I also met Lyndon John, who was conducting a seminar
with a group of locals. The trail down to the east coast is gated, and Moses
hadn’t obtained the key from the caretaker. As I was about to give up, the
caretaker arrived just before 4:30 and we set off in the hour or so of remaining
We stopped at the first spot near an old excavation site, with no luck, although
I had great looks at St. Lucia Warbler and a St. Lucia Oriole. The entire
area is an old plantation owned by an Englishman, who may have development
plans. It is noteworthy as being a main breeding site for 3 species of sea
turtles. We pished along the way, and stopped near the bottom in a swampy
area. We quickly pished in a House Wren, and I used my sophisticated $40
tape recorder to tape its call and bring it in. This is a different bird,
with a strong white supercilium, reminiscent of the White-browed Wren of
Mexico, and white underparts. The bill is very long for a House Wren, with
a yellow-orange lower mandible and base of upper.
We continued to an open field near the water, walking to the right where
there was a large pond. We kicked up a Snipe near the truck. I was pleased
to find Masked Ducks here, at least 6 and maybe a dozen, at the far edge
and among the vegetation. This was a trip highlight, although not a life
bird, as I had never seen the males before. We walked to the far side of
the pond, which was the nightjar spot, and waited for nightfall. Moses has
good photos taken by a photographer he brought here on a previous visit.
A night heron flew by at dusk (Black-crowned?), and the many moorhens were
noisy. I tried the nightjar tape, but we never saw or heard one, as expected.
The nightjar, now considered a subspecies of Rufous Nightjar, is rarely seen
outside of the breeding season.
Incidentally, a trip report mentions seeing a nightjar fly by during an early
morning drive from Castries to Soufriere, but Lyndon feels this must have
been a large bat, maybe a fishing bat, since this was the wrong habitat and
season for the nightjar. It has never been seen on the west coast, to the
best of my knowledge. Where it goes in the off season, if anywhere, seems
to be a mystery. I paid Moses $70 US for his efforts, and he drove me back
to the Rodney Bay area, where I had dinner. This seems to be a major tourist
area, but even though it was Saturday night, was relatively quiet at 8 PM.
Weather – hot and sunny.
Species total for St. Lucia - 46 + 1 heard
November 10, Sunday – Flight to Puerto Rico
A previously arranged taxi took me to the airport at 6 AM and I flew to San
Juan, Puerto Rico, described in a separate trip report. The good news for
me was that American Airlines forgot to charge me the $100 fee for changing
my flights. There are few exceptions to this $100 fee rule now, as they have
tightened their policy over the last year. $100 for a few minutes work, nice
work if you can get it.
ENDEMICS or near endemics are in capitals
AOU= new for AOU area (North America)
Red-billed Tropicbird – one adult sitting in water on ferry to Becquia, about
20 minutes from Becquia
Brown Booby – B, BQ, SL, M
Red-footed Booby – BQ – many small flocks flying past ferry near sunset,
also a few on the way over
Brown Pelican – A, B, M, SV
Magnificent Frigatebird – all islands; impressive displaying males at colony
Great Blue Heron – A - Lashings lagoon, 2 birds
Great Egret – A –Lashings lagoon
Snowy Egret – A, SL
Little Blue Heron – D, SL – treetop at Syndicat, Dominica; near pond on northeast,
SL. Surprisingly scarce based on other trip reports, although I visited few
Cattle Egret – all islands
Green Heron – SL; heard only on Barbuda and in the forest on Montserrat
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron – A, Lashings lagoon; Montserrat on pond about
15 minutes from wharf
Black-crowned Night-Heron – possibly this species flew over SL pond on northeast,
based on silhouette, not counted in trip totals
White-cheeked Pintail – A, Lashings lagoon, 4 birds; also a group of 4 or
5 in Barbuda, near Coco’s
Northern Pintail – B - female, pond en route to Coco’s resort, vagrant according
Blue-winged Teal – A - Lashings lagoon, one female or eclipse male, about
a mile from Lashings
Ring-necked Duck – B - female or eclipse male, same pond as Northern Pintail.
May be a record for Barbuda, as Raffaele doesn’t even have it as a vagrant
Masked Duck – SL – At least 6 males and some females on pond in northeast
by nightjar site
Osprey – A, B, M, SL
Common Black-Hawk – SV – Botanical gardens and Vermont Forest at parrot overlook
Broad-winged Hawk – A, D, SL, SV - common at Springfield Guest House, Dominica
American Kestrel – all islands except St. Vincent
Merlin – B, M, D
Peregrine Falcon – D – 2 or 3 birds; 1 off hill at Scott’s Head, 1 probable
en route, and 1 at Springfield
Helmeted Guineafowl (L)– B – 2 birds flushed at warbler spot past the embankment
Common Moorhen – B, SL – also one seen by Scriber on Montserrat at pond 1
mile from wharf
Black-bellied Plover – A, Lashings lagoon; B near Coco’s
Wilson’s Plover – A & B, same as above. A few of the Antigua and Barbuda
birds had some rufous at the rear of the crown and cheeks, and a cinnamon/rufous
collar. Hayman, Marchant, & Prater refer to a “rufinucha” subspecies
in the Shorebirds guide – maybe these were rufinucha?
Semipalmated Plover – A - Lashings lagoon
Black-necked Stilt – A - Lashings lagoon; B - near Coco’s
Greater Yellowlegs – B, Montserrat on pond 1 mile from wharf
Lesser Yellowlegs – A - Lashings lagoon
Spotted Sandpiper – A, B, M, SV
Ruddy Turnstone – A - Lashings lagoon
Sanderling – A - Lashings lagoon
Semipalmated Sandpiper – B - near Coco’s
Least Sandpiper – A - Lashings lagoon
White-rumped Sandpiper – A, B
Pectoral Sandpiper – B - near Coco’s, 2 birds
Stilt Sandpiper – B - near Coco’s, a small flock with BN Stilts and White-cheeked
Wilson’s (Common) Snipe – B, M, SL
Laughing Gull – A – surprisingly only one black-headed adult by the Montserrat
ferry dock in Antigua
Lesser Black-backed Gull – A - Lashings lagoon 2 birds. After returning home
and researching Grant & Harrison I decided that one was a second summer,
the other a third summer, both birds halfway into their winter plumages.
Listed as a vagrant by Raffaele.
Royal Tern – All except Montserrat
Sandwich Tern – A – Montserrat ferry dock in Antigua, small flocks with Royal
Rock Dove – B, D, SV
Eurasian Collared Dove – M, Dominica in Roseau area only
Scaly-naped Pigeon – D, SV
White-crowned Pigeon – only one flyby in Antigua at the Montserrat ferry
Zenaida Dove – all islands, common throughout
Eared Dove (AOU) – SL at Hewanorra airport, BQ behind Gingerbread restaurant
Common Ground-Dove – everywhere
Ruddy Quail-Dove – SV - one or two flew off the Vermont trail in late afternoon
Bridled Quail-Dove – my biggest miss. On Montserrat Scriber kicked up 2 different
birds at the second location, but I only heard one flying. He says they are
more active later rather than earlier in the morning
RED-NECKED PARROT (L) – D – pairs and lone birds on all visits to the Syndicat
Trail at the overlook
ST. LUCIA PARROT (L) – SL – 2 pairs seen at Edmond; 1 pair seen well at Quilesse
ST.VINCENT PARROT (L) – SV – several seen on both visits to Vermont Forest
Preserve. Probably the easiest parrot to identify, even at a distance with
its white head and multicolored plumage. A stunner
IMPERIAL PARROT (L) – D – one lone bird seen reasonably well on 3rd visit
to Syndicat. Probably another pair seen in the distance during second visit.
One of the toughest endemics
Mangrove Cuckoo – B, D, M; also heard on Antigua and St. Lucia. Although
it is in mangroves, it is also found in the mountain forests
Smooth-billed Ani – SV - lower parts of Vermont forest road; D - by the airport
LESSER ANTILLEAN SWIFT (L) – D, SL, SV
PURPLE-THROATED CARIB (L)– D, SL, SV – the common forest hummingbird
Green-throated Carib – D, SL - surprisingly scarce; my only decent look was
at the second, or first if you’re driving in, stream crossing at Syndicat.
I had seen it previously, so did not spend any effort looking for it, but
even so expected to “bump into” it more often
Antillean Crested Hummingbird – all islands; blue-crested form noted on most
BLUE-HEADED HUMMINGBIRD (L) – D - territorial at parrot overlook at Syndicat.
Also seen outside Portsmouth Beach Hotel reception, and on Springfield Guest
Belted Kingfisher– A, B, M, BQ
Caribbean Elaenia – all islands, heard only on Montserrat
Yellow-bellied Elaenia– Becquia - behind the Gingerbread restaurant, 2 birds
Lesser Antillean Pewee – SL, D – Raffaele rather cavalierly elevates St.
Lucia Pewee to species status with no explanation. The AOU doesn’t recognize
it yet. Hopefully a future split, and hopefully Raffaele will give more explanations
and more information in general in future revisions. The St. Lucia race is
darker than the birds on Dominica
GRENADA FLYCATCHER (L) – SV - Botanical gardens, and possibly at clearing
in Vermont Forest
LESSER ANTILLEAN FLYCATCHER (L) – B, D, SL – common at warbler spot on Barbuda,
and Springfield Guest House on Dominica
Gray Kingbird – everywhere, the Caribbean equivalent of Tropical Kingbird
in terms of abundance
Caribbean Martin – M - one pair flying over valley, between Salem and the
Cliff Swallow – B – some flying with Barn Swallows at Barbuda airport, a
vagrant according to Raffaele
Barn Swallow – Barbuda and Dominica (Melville Hall) airports
House Wren– D, SL, SV – very different birds, both from the North American
forms, and from each other. The St. Lucia form is localized in the northeast;
the other two were in forests on their respective islands. The SV and Dominica
forms are all dark brown, more like a Winter Wren, but the St. Lucia form
is quite distinct, with white underparts and supercilium, and a long bill
with a yellow-orange lower mandible and base of upper mandible. It had a
buffy-orange wash on its breast.
Rufous-throated Solitaire – D, SL. Hard to see. A big disappointment was
only hearing the dark-backed St. Vincent subspecies. An attractive bird,
when you finally get to see it!
Cocoa Thrush (AOU) – SV - Vermont forest, quite wary and hard to see
Bare-eyed Thrush (AOU) – SL, SV – on SL only seen on Fox Grove Inn trail;
Botanical Gardens on SV
FOREST THRUSH (L) – D, M – Another tough multi-island endemic. Seen at both
locations on Montserrat, although only a partial look at 1st location and
a short look at one bird at location 2. The Emerald Pool at dawn is the spot
on Dominica. Also occurs on Guadeloupe. Note the tail shaking behavior, and
wing-flicking while feeding. Lyndon John said he had never seen it on St.
Lucia, and the bird may no longer occur there
Red-legged Thrush– D – only along first stretch of road to Syndicat. Not
common, like on Puerto Rico
Tropical Mockingbird– all islands except Montserrat. One bird at the Bon
Apetit feeders on St. Lucia had bright buff-brown across the upper breast.
I assume this was an immature, but can’t find information other than the
Mexico and Panama guides, which say the immature is buffier and browner below.
WHITE-BREASTED THRASHER (L) – SL. Supposedly a tough near endemic, only occurring
here and Martinique. I suspect it is local rather than rare, since others
and I found it fairly easily with the assistance of a guide
SCALY-BREASTED THRASHER (L) – D, M, SL, SV – Note the broad white tertial
edges, a good field mark from a rear view. Fairly common
Pearly-eyed Thrasher – D, M, SL – Noticeably larger than the Scaly-breasted,
and a bit scarcer. The pearly white eye is not always easy to see
BROWN TREMBLER (L) – D, SL, SV – Only one seen poorly on SL; common on the
GRAY TREMBLER (L) – SL - seen at both Quilesse and Edmond forest
Black-whiskered Vireo – D, M, SL, SV – Scarce, only one or two birds seen
on each island
Yellow Warbler – A, B, D, SL – Probably includes the “Golden Warbler”, some
had large brown caps
Northern Parula Warbler – M – One at second location past Salem with Black-whiskered
ST. LUCIA WARBLER (L) – SL – Fairly common in a variety of habitats. This
is probably the prettiest of the Adelaide’s group, with its black facial
marking and bright colors
BARBUDA WARBLER (L) – B – quite common in the dry scrub, with many singing
birds. Got this one on the Camcorder
WHISTLING WARBLER (L) – SV – The hardest of the 4 endemic warblers.
I saw one bird well on the first visit, and two on the second visit. It generally
did not respond to my tape, although several birds were singing. A striking
PLUMBEOUS WARBLER (L) – D – Seen on all outings to Emerald Pool and Syndicat.
This bird is more attractive than illustrated. The white facial markings
stand out more dramatically from the dark gray plumage on the males
Blackpoll Warbler – SL – one along path before entrance to Quilesse. Rare
on St. Lucia
American Redstart – M – one female at first location
Northern Waterthrush – B - near Coco’s
Bananaquit– everywhere, all black race on St. Vincent
LESSER ANTILLEAN TANAGER (L) –SV – seen on both visits to Vermont Forest
at the parrot overlook
Antillean Euphonia – SL – heard only at Quilesse, a big miss. Stephen Lesmond
said he sometimes sees the birds along the path towards the nightjar spot,
but due to delays we didn’t have much time to look for it. It’s difficult
to see because it’s a canopy bird, preferring mistletoe
Black-faced Grassquit – all islands
LESSER ANTILLEAN BULLFINCH (L) – A, D, SL, SV – common everywhere
ST. LUCIA BLACK FINCH (L) – SL – A female seen at Edmond’s, and a male seen
at Quilesse. Easily confused with LA Bullfinch. The tail dipping behavior
is a good guide, and the bright pink legs, but note that the Bullfinch also
has pale legs. The female’s gray head contrasts with the brown body.
LESSER ANTILLEAN SALTATOR (L) – D, SL – probably fairly common, but I spent
most of my time in forest habitat rather than open areas, and only saw a
Carib Grackle (AOU) – All island except Montserrat, where it is local, according
to Scriber. Small for a grackle
Shiny Cowbird – SL – I was not disappointed to only find this bird on St.
ST. LUCIA ORIOLE (L) – SL – rather scarce; one seen at Edmonds, another at
Quilesse, and one at the White-breasted Thrasher spot. The Edmonds bird constantly
flicked its wings and tail while feeding.
MONTSERRAT ORIOLE (L) – M – You will need Scriber to find this bird, which
took a while to find
Agouti on Dominica, Syndicat Trail
Mongoose – St. Lucia, possibly St. Vincent (can’t remember)
Bats – several species, but I have no idea which. St. Vincent’s and Dominica
Dolphins en route to Becquia
by David Klauber