Birding the Americas Trip Report and Planning Repository
Return to the Main Index

Return to the North America Index
Return to the Caribbean Index


26 February - 3 March 1999

by Mark Oberle and Giff Beaton

Mark had moved his family to Puerto Rico to work with Editorial Humanitas and the Sociedad Ornitológica Puertorriqueña to produce a photo book and CD-ROM of Puerto Rican birds (see demo at  But that has meant being cooped up in an office and not doing much birding.  So the chief photographer for the project, Giff Beaton, came to the rescue for a 6-day birding trip to the Lesser Antilles in Grenada, Saint Vincent, Saint Lucia and Barbados.

Index of Photos:
              Grenada Flycatcher (Myiarchus nugator)
              Grenada Dove (Leptotila wellsi)
              Whistling Warbler (Catharopeza bishopi)
              Rufous-throated Solitaire (Myadestes genibarbis)
              Adelaide's Warbler (Dendroica adelaidae)


Friday, February 26:

Mark and Giff met up at the limited seating in the San Juan east terminal opposite the United Airlines counter.  Departed San Juan 3PM, on a LIAT DASH 8 bound for Grenada.  We had stopovers or plane changes in Tortola, St Maarten, Antigua, Barbados, and St. Vincent.  The amount of European-driven housing development on St Maarten, Antigua, & Anguilla was overwhelming, with big European jets on the runways at the first two airports.  We saw only Rock Dove on St Maarten, and Cattle Egrets and 1 Gray Kingbird on Antigua.  Finally arrived Grenada at 9:30pm.  David's rental car (473-444-3399) was the only rental car option at the airport.  Fortunately they were able to sell us a local driver's permit [$12 US].

We got vague directions to the Cinammon Hill hotel ("go through 2 roundabouts and turn left at the three circular buildings....No problem"....this is the Morne Rouge road which goes past a police station).  But despite the restaurant hours listed in the AAA guide to the Caribbean, the hotel's restaurant had just closed at 10, as had other restaurants nearby.  So we drove back to the noisy Casablanca bar to buy some sandwiches.  Fortunately, we were thus forced to get out at night, because Giff noticed an owl land on a wire and then hop onto a railing at the Grande Anse Seaview Apartments on the south side of the Morne Rouge road: it was a dark phase Barn Owl.  The drive to our hotel unit was hairy, up a very narrow, twisty, but paved driveway.....We spent a good while turning the car around for a safe departure the next morning.  Could not call off-island on the hotel phone.

Saturday, February 27.

We departed at 6:05 AM as it was getting light in the east. But negotiating a right hand drive vehicle on the narrow driveway, we drove a bit too wide on a steep turn and the front wheel went off the abrupt pavement edge, high-centering the left front wheel.  Mark threw his back out as he slipped while trying to push the car back, but fortunately Giff found a big curved rock to ramp the car back onto the road.  We drove on the coast road north through downtown St Georges, where the Grenada race of the House Wren sang at multiple points on the highway.  We headed north to the Perseverance Estate/Halifax Bay location for the Grenada Dove.  Although there are fewer doves there than at Mt. Hartman estate (also called Government Farm), there are trails at Perseverance into the woods making visibility easier.  Here are some landmarks in Kilometers [well, at least the odometer read as below, but not sure if distances were in KM vs Miles??].

0 Sendahl Tunnel ( the only tunnel on the coast road just N of downtown)

0.5 Continue on coast road past the turn for River Rd.  (that road goes to Mts.).

5.7 Garbage dump on left and trailhead on right.

The garbage dump is very obvious but the trailhead is not.  As soon as you see a green shed on the left, at the southern edge of the dump, find a parking space and then look for a very clear trail heading into open thorn scrub.  This is at the southern end of a wide bowl of hills.  We initially searched farther north just beyond the north end of the dump, and hit several dead end trails near some abandoned shacks.  Giff at one point got stung 5 times by small, but potent wasps.  But we did see Lesser Antillean Bullfinch, Grenada Flycatcher and Tropical Mockingbirds.

Grenada Flycatcher (Myiarchus nugator)
Grenada Flycatcher (Myiarchus nugator)
Photo © Giff Beaton 1999

When we finally found the wider trail at the southern end of the bowl, we immediately realized we were close to calling Grenada Doves.  Only 100 yards up the trail at 7:30am, we pished for a thrasher, and for some reason, in came a Grenada Dove that perched right above us and sang, making for great photos and audio.  It began to drizzle as the bird left.  There are only about 100 of these birds left, and many people only hear them in the few remaining thorn scrub forests that are rapidly being developed for sunny vacation homes on the southwest coast (the Dove eats seeds of thorny leguminous plants.  Its call is a low descending coo ).  In fact because of the unusually rainy winter in the Caribbean, the Doves were calling early this year.....we were lucky even to have heard them since they often do not call much in a normal dry season.

Grenada Dove (Leptotila wellsi)
Grenada Dove (Leptotila wellsi)
Photo © Giff Beaton 1999

Back at the highway we had nice looks at a Bare-eyed Thrush and a Tropical Mockingbird that had a pure white head and a horn-colored bill.  Note that the dump is going to be closed and the abandoned farm area on the north side of the bowl (immediately north of the current dump and across the road) is being converted to a sanitary landfill.  We decided to head up to the mountains.  We drove back south to River road and headed inland (east) on the very windy road:

0 intersection of coast highway with River Rd.

4.7 Grand Etang Nursery (road where Craig Faanes had Cocoa Thrush).

6.1 Grand Etang Forest reserve visitor center, about 1910 feet elevation.

Right at the woods at the visitor center, we had Rufous-breasted Hermits, Lesser Antillean Tanager, and Antillean Crested Hummingbird (a pair of the latter were displaying ( see: Schuchman, K.L.  1979.  Notes on the song, territorial behavior, and display of the Antillean Crested Hummingbird, Orthorhyncus cristatus exilis, of St. Lucia, W.I. Bull. Brit. Orn. Club 99(1):30-32).  It rained on and off but we decided to hike along the trail to the south end of the volcanic crater lake.  Eventually a Cocoa Thrush walked along the trail just before a group of hostile German tourists passed us...It pays to bird forest trails early.  Since it was raining hard at times, we went back to the hotel to check out and then headed to Mt Hartman estate (Government farm ) to hope for a look at the endangered race of the Hook-billed Kite.  There are only a few dozen at most of these birds.  Blockstein, in a study of the Grenada Dove and the kite, only saw kites in the southwest maybe every other day in the field (1988.  Two endangered birds of Grenada, West Indies: Grenada Dove and Grenada Hook-billed Kite.  Carib.  J.  Sci.  24:127-136.)


0 Head east off the main North-south highway from the second roundabout north of the airport;

0.3 Turn right at an obscure right hand turn just before that highway makes an ascending curve.  We followed this road on the west side of Mt Hartman as far we could and then asked a friendly farmer if it was OK to park our car.

We then walked the dirt road around the west, south, and southeast sides of Mt.  Hartman for a few hours in the afternoon heat (Mark got sunburned, not having expected to be out so long).  We could see the fenced reserve area above the farms, but the only hawks we had were a kestrel and several Broad-wings.  Eared Doves and ground doves abounded in the pastures.  A Yellow-bellied Elaenia gave us good views along the east edge of the road before it descended to the flats.  In some tall grass at the south side we found several molting male Blue-black Grassquits.  Finally at the SE edge of the preserve, we flushed another Grenada Dove under an acacia.  We drove back to the southern highway and drove 0.9 km. east of the first entrance to the Mt Hartman area to a right (South ) turn that led to the east side of Mt Hartman.

We drove the dirt road to the end of the houses, and then walked south along the mangroves.  We had good looks at more bullfinches and Crested Hummingbirds.  At one point we just lay down to nap in some short grass near some mangroves after discussing the possibility of chiggers ( we both got them).  We later walked that area until late afternoon and went into some mangroves where Northern Waterthrushes, Bullfinches and Grenada Flycatchers hung out.  We went back to the airport and birded the mangroves at the eastern end of the runway while repacking.  We then met Bonnie Rusk and her friend Drew for dinner at the Boatyard restaurant, almost at the end of the L'anse Aux Epines road (immediate right turn just east of the second roundabout).  Bonnie is originally from Montreal, now Boulder, and is consulting on Grenada Dove recovery efforts and had a lot of insight into the situation there.  The government Forestry unit (473-440-6197) and/or Parks unit (440-0366) in the future may have a more active Grenada Dove program for visitors.  The tourism board (440-2279) was aware of the Dove but not of specific guide or visitor orientation programs.

At the Grenada airport had 6 Wandering Glider dragonflies (Pantala flavescens).

Further thoughts on Grenada:

  1. the tourist board suggested La Sagesse nature center 444-6458 for tours and good nature setting.  They may have rooms to rent.
  2. If we had time, we might have headed to the NE corner of Grenada to the Levera National Park where supposedly Scarlet Ibises can be seen.  We had 2 Ospreys which do not appear on the BirdBase list for this island; and a single Bank Swallow circling low over the Government Farm.
  3. Anis looked bigger than in PR or FL.
  4. St Lucia's Piton beer seemed thinner than Carib.
  5. People were very friendly except for some tourists.
We caught LIAT 334 at 8:35 PM for the short flight to St Vincent.

Jump to the Grenada Trip List

ST. VINCENT: 14 North, 61 West.

We got a car from Avis, the only car rental agency in the air terminal.  The immigration officer told us that a temporary driver's license was required, but had to be purchased at the police station in town.  We elected not to spend the valuable sleep or birding time getting the license, but obviously someone staying longer than we should probably do so.  Mark drove to the Heron Hotel (recommended in Ro Wauer's book) on the Kingston waterfront, a block from Kentucky Fried Chicken, and fortunately someone was just leaving through the locked door and let us in (there is probably another entrance on the inland side as well).  This 19th century hotel is an-old fashioned place (with added a.c.) that is very laid back.  Breakfast was included in the rate, so we asked for some food and drinks to be put out for us in the morning.

Sunday, February 28:

Left the hotel at 6 am again, as toads sang in the channelized creek adjacent to the hotel.  Due to lack of signs, we drove straight up the waterfront to a distant dock area by mistake.  Turned around and went back into town.  The key landmark is the downtown Texaco gas station.  At that point you need to turn east (inland).  From that point it is 6.1 km on the coast road to a bridge across a river.  You then go north for another 0.2 km to an unmarked right turn (there is only a dilapidated blue, circular sign for a "Bargain land sale").  Follow this road up the main river valley.  The narrow, paved road to the upper end of the valley is in disrepair and could be slippery in rains.  There are a few signs for the Vermont Nature Centre at some intersections, but the main road is obvious at most intersections.  The last stretch of road had been treacherous above a dam and waterworks, but that stretch is now paved up to the end, at a well-signed parking lot.

We immediately heard a singing Whistling Warbler along the stream just below the parking lot.  But a local farmer pointed out that the main trails began up a set of stairs.  The trail map at the parking lot was a bit confusing, so we headed uphill on the loop trail toward the parrot observation platform.  The trail was more strenuous than the other trails we had been on so far.  We walked from 7-11:30am.  Very shortly after entering the forest, we saw an immature plumaged Whistling Warbler singing in the understory.  We later saw several others near the parrot platform and elsewhere.  They were flitting from branch to branch, gleaning insects off tree trunks.  Chip note was a slightly musical "chuck" note, which we recorded.

Whistling Warbler (Catharopeza bishopi)
Whistling Warbler (Catharopeza bishopi)
Photo © Giff Beaton 1999

There were several House Wrens with a quite different song and plumage in the forest understory.  The Bananaquits inland on this island are melanistic, whereas some coastal birds are the more typical yellow-bellied form (see Gochfeld, M.  1980.  Microgeographic variation in plumage morph frequencies of the Bananaquit (Aves: Parulidae) on St. Vincent, West Indies.  Carib.  J.  Sci.  16:5-8.).  The last 30 minutes to the platform on the sometimes steep trails in the forest we heard parrots.  Had several fly back and forth in forest valleys, good looks, but not close---- a beautiful bird with plumage very different from the PR Parrot.  Purple-throated Caribs also put on a display at the platform.

Found several Brown Trembler in the forest just beyond the platform and elsewhere on the loop trail back down.  Walked the entrance road below the parking lot for a while.  It was hot, but we did spot briefly a distant soaring Common Black-Hawk and multiple Broad-winged Hawks.  In the trees above the parking lot a very close pair of St Vincent Parrots gave us our best look.  We did not see any Swifts.  We headed back to the Kingston Botanical Gardens just inland from the Shell Station, but they were closed (Sunday??).  We decided to opt for lunch and a nap at the hotel instead of more birding.

The evening flight to St Lucia (with the same LIAT flight crew as before) involved a fast stopover in Barbados.

Jump to the St. Vincent Trip List


At the Castries (Vigie) airport, there were a lot more rental car agencies than in the other two islands.  Avis had our reservation but did not have the 4WD Sidekick we had reserved via the 800 number.  But they had arranged for a Daihatsu Feroza 4WD from the local agency next door [Guy's car rental @ $70 per day 758-451-7885].  They sold us a local drivers permit on the spot and Giff drove north to the Palm Tree hotel in Gros Islet where we had dinner.  We had previously arranged with the hotel via Email to have box lunches the next day.

Monday, March 1:

The western entrance to the Edmund / Quilesse Forest Reserve in central St Lucia had been blocked by a landslide a few years ago, so we left at 5:00AM to find the eastern entrance.  However, since the tourism agency clerk at the airport had told us that the Southeastern route through Castries was the most direct route to the east coast, we did not check the other maps that George Ledec had lent us.  So we found ourselves in a maze of one way streets in downtown Castries in the rain, and then on a twisty mountain road in residential neighborhoods.  By dead reckoning we worked our way back to the main highway, but lost enough time that we were able to get gas at 6am on the highway (thus relieving a major anxiety).  Not all rental cars in the West Indies arrive with full tanks, and not all gas stations are open every night.  We picked that one up at night with only 1/4 tank.


0 miles Left turn at major intersection south of Castries where the east and west coast highways meet.

23.6 mi.  right turn (west) at small sign for nature reserve trail near the town of Micoud.

30.1 mi.  Nature reserve parking lot.

As usual, not all intersections on the back road off the highway were signed, but the most confusing ones had signs for the reserve.  One good map showed that the road did not cross the major creek, but in fact it did cross a significant bridge on the inland road.  By accident we returned by a much better road, which is also the first access road when coming from the alternative airport in the south of St. Lucia.  Our best reconstruction of the reverse directions from the north for this alternative road to Edmund Reserve:

0 miles Continue south on main highway from the first turn sign for the nature reserve (*mile 23.6 in above directions).

2.3 mi.  Turn right (west) at an intersection with pedestrian bus shelters on either side of highway.

4.0 Bear right at intersection toward town of Des Ruisseaux.

6.6 Bear left off well-paved main road and head uphill through banana plantations (this is the key intersection that is least obvious ).

7.3 Continue straight (level) at intersection.

7.9 Turn left at sign for nature trail.

8.2 Turn right at sign for nature trail.

8.8 Road ends at nature trail sign and pavilion.  (see discussion later on permits and guides).

At the trailhead 2 St Lucia Parrots immediately flew over us heading east into the agricultural foothills.

The trail map at the trailhead picnic shelter is pretty good.  New trails have been added to accommodate visitors who now must enter from the east. In some sense the main trails describe a figure "8" with the picnic shelter and entrance at the bottom of the 8.  We took the left fork at the entrance and within minutes stumbled onto a pair of St Lucia Black Finches in the understory.  Their pink legs and big bill (like some of the Galapagos Finches) were instantly obvious to distinguish them from the ubiquitous Lesser Antillean Bullfinches.  We heard more parrots on the way up.

At a 4-way trail intersection we headed left toward the St Lucia Parrot observation platform at about 1240 feet elevation overlooking a valley.  Just before the platform we found a Gray Trembler and an Oriole ("chak" call similar to Black-cowled Oriole's).  At 9AM we lingered at the platform watching distant parrots fly back and forth (one flew closer overhead; there are about 500 of this species left) and then saw Lesser Antillean Swifts over the valley as well.  On the way out we found a Scaly-breasted Thrasher, and just before reaching the 4 way trail intersection again we saw a Lesser Antillean Flycatcher in a forest clearing.  Giff had left his camera in the car because of drizzle, so he got that and birded the area again.  A Rufous-throated Solitaire zipped into a low tree limb in response to pishing.

Rufous-throated Solitaire (Myadestes genibarbis)
Rufous-throated Solitaire (Myadestes genibarbis)
Photo © Giff Beaton 1999

We stopped on the way out at several banana fields and pished.  Found a cooperative Caribbean Eleania but no saltators.  On the main east coast highway between the two turnoffs for Edmund Forest there were several pulloffs where we birded including at the gated access to the Fregate National Park which had flowering trees with several Orioles and Antillean Crested Hummingbirds.

Instead of going back to the hotel we drove the west coast highway toward the town of Anse La Raye to position ourselves for Rufous Nightjars at dusk.  At one confusing intersection south of the main junction of the east and west coast highways, we stopped to consult the map, and a 10 year-old boy in a school uniform waved at us and confirmed the directions.  He asked for a ride toward Marigot and then paid us back by stealing Giff's tape recorder (a now out-of-production field model) from the back seat.  Just as the highway levels out in Anse La Raye itself there is a left turn inland that is signed for a waterfall.

We decided to explore that road while waiting for dark.  2.0 miles up that road at the intersection for the final side road to the waterfall we stopped and saw a Lesser Antillean Saltator fly across the road into a banana field (420 feet elevation).  Several Orioles were along the road and of course, Bullfinches.  We returned into Anse La Raye to make some phone calls on the waterfront and watched the sunset as a huge cruise ship sailed by (meanwhile on the dock, a young boy, and a poor fisherman on crutches cleaned some small fish).  We went back to the waterfall road to listen and play nightjar tapes along that road at dusk and then in the dry scrub just south of Anse La Raye .  No sign of nightjars in about an hour of birding at what seemed to be an optimal time.  Not sure if the species is still present in that area or if they were just not singing due to the phase of the moon or some other factor.  We drove back through Castries to the hotel.  At 10PM Mark got a call from Puerto Rico.  Just after he had gotten off the phone to home at dusk, his wife and son were in a car accident.  Fortunately they were driving a friend's Cadillac and the airbags saved them.  However, they were shaken up and the car was destroyed, so Mark decided to take the nonstop on American Eagle back to San Juan the next day.

Tuesday, March 2:

Slept late until 6, then met Moses Wilford, a Forestry Division employee who has collaborated with several researchers and lives in Desbarra, east of Castries.  He knows the White-breasted Thrasher habitat well.  There are only about 100 birds in a few valleys in NE St Lucia (plus a few on Martinique).


0 miles From the N-S highway between Castries and Gros Islet Turn east onto the Babonneau highway, passing the Forestry Division headquarters.

3.4 Bear left at the church in Babonneau.

4.1 Bear right at fork and continue past town of Garrand.

5.7 Bear left at fork

7.1 Bear right after crossing a large concrete bridge

8.2 Bear right at fork

8.8 Enter town of Desbarra (sign) (about 800 feet elevation) bearing right.

8.9 bear right at some houses.

11.5 Ford a stream (can be dangerous after brief cloudbursts)

11.9 Park at some small farm buildings (the old village site of Caille Des) and take the track to the left to the beach and Chaloupe Ravine.  Hike down to the beach, taking a right fork along the way, a total of about half a mile to the beach.  .  Two small stream valleys come down to the boulder beach at the bottom of Ravine La Chaloupe.  The northern one is the one the trail follows from Caille Des, while the more southerly valley is the one you want.  We walked upstream past a fisherman's lean-to, and once we got above the area with mangrove roots, Moses began to pish for the thrashers.  We had none there, but a little farther upstream we found a tame White-breasted Thrasher on a steep slope adjacent to the stream.  It was foraging in the leaf litter, and occasionally checked us out from low branches.  There was also a St Lucia race House Wren singing there, Adelaide's Warblers, Lesser Antillean (St Lucia) Pewees, and Orioles.  The Adelaide's had very different songs and much brighter plumage than the PR subspecies we were used to (proposed to be split: Lovette, I.J., E.  Bermingham, G.  Seutin, and R.E.  Ricklefs.  1998.  Evolutionary differentiation in three endemic West Indian warblers.  Auk 115:890-903).

Adelaide's Warbler (Dendroica adelaidae)
Adelaide's Warbler (Dendroica adelaidae)
Photo © Giff Beaton 1999

We flushed two quail-doves, presumably Bridled.  Unfortunately the bigger trees in that valley had just been cut for lumber, leading us to wonder how that would impact the thrasher.  We had wanted to stay a little longer, but it began to rain so we left at about 9am.  By the way, the dry scrub area east of Desbarra is the regular habitat for Rufous Nightjar.  The ridge to the south of Desbarra, and the headwaters of the Chaloupe Ravine is the last place that Semper's Warbler was believed to live.  Although some intensive searches have failed to turn that species up, it might still be up there.  It would be an amazing gem of biodiversity if that watershed were preserved.  Moses said that there has been talk of trying to develop a community trail system to attract adventuresome tourists.  In contrast, a fancy hotel complex had been proposed for Grand Anse beach, in the next valley north of Chaloupe Ravine.  Ironically the surf is very rough and the country's prime minister drowned while trying to save a tourist there.

Some other notes about the drive from Desbarra to Chaloupe Ravine: At the Desbarra town sign itself, there is a left turn going uphill toward Grand Anse Beach, a former estate with an abandoned airfield and an accessible, good location for Rufous Nightjar; (there is also a small pond at the south of the airstrip with Masked Ducks).  But we continued straight through the village, as above.

Beyond Desbarra the road heading downhill has become very, very rough since a hurricane a few years ago.  It now requires high clearance (Giff also had to use 4WD on the way back out).  The track from the old Caille Des village site down to the beach had just been cleared for vehicle access by the illegal logging operation.  We drove in 0.3 miles until the road got too rough even for the 4WD and then we continued walking down to the beach (we should have just walked the whole way from Caille Des to the beach).

An alternative, low budget way to reach this area would be to take the bus (route 1b) to Desbarra and then walk the few miles down to the beach.  The only other people near that beach were a few farmers who occasionally occupy shacks in the former Caille Des village site, and some seasonal Forestry Division workers involved with reforestation.  The road access to Caille Des from the south that appears on some maps is no longer viable.  We headed back to the hotel and dropped off Moses at the Forestry office and gladly paid his fee of $60EC.

After lunch we birded the savannah near the Gros Islet marina where Grasslands Yellow Finch had been reported (these are listed as Misto Yellow Finch in some sources), but saw none in the heat of the day (the Southern airport (Hewanorra, Vieux Fort) is a more reliable place for this introduced species).  Mark barely made his American Eagle flight back to San Juan.  It was raining heavily toward Desbarra and the southern mountains as he left.  Overall we were extremely lucky that we did not get rained out on any island given how hard it had been raining this year during the "dry" season.

As Mark flew north, the plane passed Montserrat Island where the Centre Hills still looked green ......Wayne Arendt and D.W.  Gibbons estimated that about 4000 Montserrat Orioles still survive there despite the volcanic eruption of the last few years (El Pitirre 11(2):57-58, 1998).

Additional notes about St Lucia:

  1. Paul Butler at the RARE conservation center was very helpful: Email:; W: 758-452-0864.  He put us in touch with both Moses Wilford for the thrasher (H:450-6080; W: 758-450-2231or 2078) at the forestry division office, and with Brian James, the chief of the forestry division who issues permits to enter the Edmund/Quilesse Fore St. The permit situation was complicated.  Several weeks before the trip, Mark called Mr James (758-450-2231or 2078) and explained that we wanted to get in early to bird, before most formal tour groups might go in there (in fact we only saw one small, private, guided party there).  He said he would issue a permit and put us in touch with the required guide, but wanted copies of audio and photo we might take (we plan to send him the better cuts).  So Mark faxed the formal request for a permit (758-450-2287).  Although the permit was dated Feb 26, the return fax did not arrive until after Mark got home March 2.
  1. [The guide he arranged for was Mr Donald Anthony; H: 452-1799, for a fee of $80 EC, about $32 US].
  1. Rather than wait for the forestry division office to open on March 1, we thought we could confirm the permit and hire a guide at the entrance.  But there was nobody there when we arrived.  On the way out there was a friendly trail worker who confirmed that a permit was required, but again, a guide would have required advance coordination.  The moral is to plan ahead.  Even if a guide were not a good birder, he would probably have gotten us through Castries a lot faster and gotten us more good birding time.
  1. We noticed a hotel advertised north of Micoud that might offer lodging closer to the Edmund/Quilesse Forest Reserve than north of Castries: Fox Grove Inn 455-3271.  Also the hotels on the southern tip of the island would offer easier access to the rain forest.
Jump to the St. Lucia Trip List


(Written by Giff, after Mark left)

I was met in Barbados late March 2 by Eddie Massiah, who had generously offered to put me (and Mark) up and some early birding before the departure flight March 3.  Went to his house, where his lovely wife Hilda had prepared a feast including the local speciality of flying fish and a tasty green vegetable I had never seen called christophenes.  After dinner we stayed up for a while comparing notes on birding in general and the islands in particular.

Wednesday, March 3:

Got up at 0500 to utilize maximum daylight before my 0840 flight, and had a great breakfast before we sped over to Graeme Hall Swamp at sunup to enjoy numerous herons and egrets leaving the roost. Also got to enjoy a rain shower, but after it passed were thrilled to relocate the elusive Purple Heron which had been seen here recently, a first record for North America and only the second for the Western Atlantic (other off Brazil about ten years ago).  Didn't seem so wet after that!  Next went over to Chancery Lane, where the Little/Snowy Egrets were a bit far away but a Gray Heron was within good viewing distance roosting in a tree, along with a feeding Great Blue Heron for comparison.  Next we raced to the airport to check me in at 0700, and having done so took off for Coles House, on Coles Road, near Ragged Point.  This great area of marsh and ponds is the current home of Martin Frost, who had a Western-Reef Heron staked out for us!  Both birders pointed out that the next bit of land to the east was Cape Verde.  Had great looks here of side-by-side Little and Snowy Egrets.  Almost out of time, we went to one last spot, the Congo Road Shooting Swamp.  This is another tremendous area of shorebird habitat, but don't plan on coming here in the fall until mid-October when the hunting stops.  There were lots of yellowlegs and Black-bellied Plovers, but no Ruffs and no more time.  Our heron list stood at 11 species for the two hours of birding, not too bad anywhere!  Eddie skillfully zipped me back to the airport for my 0840 LIAT flight by 0820.  After a quick goodbye and thanks for his wonderful hospitality, I headed into the terminal only to hear the dreaded "Final Boarding Call" announcement and literally ran to the plane.  They actually closed the door as I was getting into my seat, and left 8 minutes early.

Don't they know this is the Caribbean?  Actually, a recent guide to the Caribbean specifically pointed out that LIAT sometimes leaves up to 20 minutes early.  A great morning, with wonderful herons and interesting subspecies such as the all-male-plumaged Carib Grackles and the all-female-plumaged Lesser Antillean Bullfinches.  Both of those species are so different that they may be split at some point.

Eddie and Martin welcome visitors to Barbados, and here is their contact information:

Eddie Massiah Phone: (246)424-4105 Email:

Martin Frost Email:

Jump to the Barbados Trip List

A great ending to another fun trip with Mark, full of the usual trials and tribulations, but overshadowed by awesome birds and scenery!

Helpful books:

Keith, Allan R.  1997.  The Birds of St Lucia.  BOU Check-list No.  15.  British Ornithologists' Union.  C/o The Natural History Museum, Tring, Herts HP23 6AP, UK.  This book has a lot of details on individual species and abundances.

Raffaele, H.A., J.W.  Wiley, O.H.  Garrido, A.R.  Keith, and J.I.  Raffaele.  1998.  Guide to the birds of the West Indies.  Princeton.  412 pp.  THE field guide, although we normally left it in the car to save weight.

Tyrrell, E.Q., and R.A.Tyrrell.  1990.  Hummingbirds of the Caribbean.  Crown Publishers, NY.

Travel and birdfinding info:

Allen and Nancy Chartier.  1994.  St Lucia and Puerto Rico Apr 22-May 1 Trip Report.  ABA Foreign field note series N-80.

Faanes, Craig.  Itinerary for a trip to the Lesser Antilles (1988) available from ABA Sales.

Faanes, Craig.  Itinerary for a second trip to the Lesser Antilles (1989) available from ABA Sales.

Faanes, Craig.  Field Notes from St. Vincent, West Indies (1990).  available from ABA Sales.

Roland H. Wauer 1996 A Birder's West Indies 256 pages;

MAPS: were hard to come by.  The rental car maps are variable, and the more maps you can find, the better to triangulate useful info.  Nelles Maps of Germany has a nice map of the Caribbean, with island specific details.  The US AAA map is pretty poor.  For St. Vincent, the Dept of Tourism sells a very detailed map (Egmont St. PO Box 834, Kingston)

Logistics: It is possible to get to any one of the southern Lesser Antilles from San Juan on several carriers, but LIAT offers the only inter-island connections once there.  LIAT had a 3-island fare for something like $250, but because we would have had to overnight in Barbados, we had to take their Superexplorer Fare for $475.  Someone with more time could do the same itinerary minus Barbados on the lower LIAT fare if they could overnight one additional night on St Lucia.  On the late-night arrival schedule that we were on, we probably should have brought more food so we did not have to hunt around when towns were closed down.

We especially appreciated the advice from George Ledec, Chris Haney, and Craig Faanes based on their prior trips there.


(estimated number after Latin name.  Since we were not sure of many distant call notes on such a fast trip, many birds, especially flycatchers are counted conservatively)

Grenada, 2 February 1999
20 Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens
4 Brown Booby Sula leucogaster
1 Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea
2 Great Egret Ardea alba
50 Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis 
1 Green Heron Butorides virescens
2 Osprey Pandion haliaetus
6 Broad-winged Hawk Buteo platypterus
1 American Kestrel Falco sparverius
4 Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
1 Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca
1 Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes
3 Spotted Sandpiper Tringa macularia
1 Royal Tern Sterna maxima
20 Rock Dove Columba livia
1 Barn Owl (2/26) Tyto alba
3 Scaly-naped Pigeon Columba squamosa
100 Eared Dove Zenaida auriculata 
5 Zenaida Dove Zenaida aurita
30 Common Ground-Dove Columbina passerina 
5 Grenada Dove Leptotila wellsi
4 Mangrove Cuckoo Coccyzus minor 
40 Smooth-billed Ani Crotophaga ani 
6 Rufous-breasted Hermit Glaucis hirsuta
15 Antillean Crested Hummingbird Orthorhyncus cristatus
1 Belted Kingfisher Ceryle alcyon 
1 Caribbean Elaenia Elaenia martinica
1 Yellow-bellied Elaenia Elaenia flavogaster 
20 Grenada Flycatcher Myiarchus nugator
50 Gray Kingbird Tyrannus dominicensis 
1 Black-whiskered Vireo Vireo altiloquus
1 Cocoa Thrush Turdus fumigatus
10 Bare-eyed Thrush Turdus nudigenis 
60 Tropical Mockingbird Mimus gilvus 
25 House Wren Troglodytes aedon 
1 Bank Swallow Riparia riparia 
6 Northern Waterthrush Seiurus noveboracensis 
80 Bananaquit Coereba flaveola 
20 Lesser Antillean Tanager Tangara cucullata
6 Blue-black Grassquit Volatinia jacarina
40 Black-faced Grassquit Tiaris bicolor 
15 Lesser Antillean Bullfinch Loxigilla noctis
100 Carib Grackle Quiscalus lugubris 
2 Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis

St Vincent, 28 February 1999
2 Great Egret Ardea alba
15 Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis 
1 Osprey Pandion haliaetus
1 Common Black-Hawk Buteogallus anthracinus
15 Broad-winged Hawk Buteo platypterus
15 Rock Dove Columba livia
2 Scaly-naped Pigeon Columba squamosa
2 Ruddy Quail-Dove Geotrygon montana
10 St. Vincent Parrot Amazona guildingii
2 Mangrove Cuckoo Coccyzus minor
3 Smooth-billed Ani Crotophaga ani
5 Purple-throated Carib Eulampis jugularis
10 Antillean Crested Hummingbird Orthorhyncus cristatus
5 Caribbean Elaenia Elaenia martinica
5 Grenada Flycatcher Myiarchus nugator
3 Gray Kingbird Tyrannus dominicensis
6 Black-whiskered Vireo Vireo altiloquus
2 Rufous-throated Solitaire Myadestes genibarbis
1 Cocoa Thrush Turdus fumigatus
4 Brown Trembler Cinclocerthia ruficauda 
1 Pearly-eyed Thrasher Margarops fuscatus
15 House Wren Troglodytes aedon
7 Whistling Warbler Catharopeza bishopi
50 Bananaquit Coereba flaveola 
1 Antillean Euphonia Euphonia musica 
30 Lesser Antillean Tanager Tangara cucullata 
12 Lesser Antillean Bullfinch Loxigilla noctis
1 Carib Grackle Quiscalus lugubris

St. Lucia, 1 March 1999
30 Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis 
1 Green Heron Butorides virescens
8 Broad-winged Hawk Buteo platypterus 
1 American Kestrel Falco sparverius 
1 Merlin Falco columbarius
10 Rock Dove Columba livia
20 Scaly-naped Pigeon Columba squamosa
15 Zenaida Dove Zenaida aurita
4 Common Ground-Dove Columbina passerina
3 Ruddy Quail-Dove Geotrygon montana
14 St. Lucia Parrot Amazona versicolor 
2 Mangrove Cuckoo Coccyzus minor
5 Lesser Antillean Swift Chaetura martinica
10 Purple-throated Carib Eulampis jugularis
2 Green-throated Carib Eulampis holosericeus
35 Antillean Crested Hummingbird Orthorhyncus cristatus 
5 Caribbean Elaenia Elaenia martinica
20 Lesser Antillean Pewee Contopus latirostris
1 Lesser Antillean Flycatcher Myiarchus oberi
10 Gray Kingbird Tyrannus dominicensis
3 Black-whiskered Vireo Vireo altiloquus
5 Rufous-throated Solitaire Myadestes genibarbis
5 Gray Trembler Cinclocerthia
4 Scaly-breasted Thrasher Margarops fuscus
6 Pearly-eyed Thrasher Margarops fuscatus
1 Yellow Warbler Dendroica petechia
15 Adelaide's Warbler Dendroica adelaidae
50 Bananaquit Coereba flaveola 
2 Antillean Euphonia Euphonia musica
15 Black-faced Grassquit Tiaris bicolor
80 Lesser Antillean Bullfinch Loxigilla noctis 
5 St. Lucia Black Finch Melanospiza richardsoni
1 Lesser Antillean Saltator Saltator albicollis
8 St. Lucia Oriole Icterus laudabilis 
40 Carib Grackle Quiscalus lugubris 

St. Lucia, 2 March 1999
6 Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
1 Green Heron Butorides virescens
3 Yellow-crowned Night-Heron Nyctanassa violacea
1 Osprey Pandion haliaetus
1 American Kestrel Falco sparverius
8 Zenaida Dove Zenaida aurita 
12 Common Ground-Dove Columbina passerina 
2 Bridled Quail-Dove ? Geotrygon mystacea
1 Mangrove Cuckoo Coccyzus minor
5 Antillean Crested Hummingbird Orthorhyncus cristatus
15 Caribbean Elaenia Elaenia martinica
10 Gray Kingbird Tyrannus dominicensis
1 Black-whiskered Vireo Vireo altiloquus
2 Tropical Mockingbird Mimus gilvus
1 Brown Trembler Cinclocerthia ruficauda 
2 White-breasted Thrasher Ramphocinclus brachyurus
5 Scaly-breasted Thrasher Margarops fuscus
4 Pearly-eyed Thrasher Margarops fuscatus
2 House Wren Troglodytes aedon
8 Adelaide's Warbler Dendroica adelaidae 
20 Bananaquit Coereba flaveola
15 Black-faced Grassquit Tiaris bicolor
10 Lesser Antillean Bullfinch Loxigilla noctis
1 Lesser Antillean Saltator Saltator albicollis
2 St. Lucia Oriole Icterus laudabilis
50 Carib Grackle Quiscalus lugubris 

Barbados, 3 March 1999
3 Tricolored Heron  Egretta tricolor
3 Little Blue Heron  Egretta caerulea
6 Little Egret  Egretta garzetta
1 Western Reef-Egret1 Egretta gularis 
20 Snowy Egret  Egretta thula
1 Gray Heron Ardea cinerea
2 Great Blue Heron  Ardea herodias
1 Purple Heron2 Ardea purpurea
15 Great Egret  Ardea alba
400 Cattle Egret  Bubulcus ibis 
1 Green Heron  Butorides virescens
6 Common Moorhen  Gallinula chloropus
1 Solitary Sandpiper  Tringa solitaria
25 Greater Yellowlegs  Tringa melanoleuca 
4 Lesser Yellowlegs  Tringa flavipes 
5 Spotted Sandpiper  Tringa macularia 
6 Least Sandpiper  Calidris minutilla
20 Black-bellied Plover  Pluvialis squatarola
10 Rock Dove  Columbia livia
1 Scaly-naped Pigeon  Columba squamosa
30 Zenaida Dove Zenaida aurita 
5 Common Ground-Dove Columbina passerina
1 Belted Kingfisher  Ceryle alcyon 
6 Gray Kingbird Tyrannus dominicensis
3 Yellow Warbler  Dendroica petechia 
15 Bananaquit Coereba flaviola
20 Black-faced Grassquit Tiaris bicolor
6 Lesser Antillean Bullfinch Loxigilla noctis 
100 Carib Grackle Quiscalas lugubris 

Note #1 - Dark form (this is the name in Clements)
Note #2 - (juv or imm plumage, not sure what this age is called... 1st winter?)


Fri., Feb 26: Fly San Juan to Grenada. Hotel: Cinammon Hill 473-444-4302

Sat. Feb 27: Fly Grenada to St Vincent. Hotel Heron Hotel (PO Box 266 Kingston) 809-457-1631; fax 1189.

Sun & mon. Feb 28-Mar 1: Fly St Vincent to St Lucia. Hotel: Palm Tree 758-452-8200

Tues: Mar 2 Split up: Mark back to SJU. Giff to Barbados where met Eddie Massiah house: 246-424-4105; work 427-5621/5622.

Fri 26 Feb SJU GND 2:50PM 9:25PM LIAT flight # 351 (5 stops)

Sat 27 Feb GND SVD 8:35PM 9:05PM LIAT #334

Sun 28 Feb SVD SLU 5:25pm 7:15PM LIAT #336 (stopover in Barbados)

Tue 2 Mar SLU BGI 6:50PM 7:30PM LIAT #335

Giff: Wed 3 Mar BGI ANU 8:40AM 1255PM #362

Mark: Tue 2 Mar. SLU SJU 2:48PM 5:10PM American Eagle 5469

Mark Oberle

2006 23 Avenue East
Seattle, WA 98112
res: 787-796-0784

Giff Beaton

320 Willow Glen Drive
Marietta GA 30068
res: 770-509-1482