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Below are some of the photos taken on our trips through the Lesser Antilles along with excerpts from our trip reports. Click here to read the full trip reports.
A pair of St.Vincent Parrots making their way to favourite feeding grounds at first light - photo by BTI Co-leader Keith Clarkson
Sanderling scouring a beach on the west coast of Barbados (unless otherwise stated, all photos by Birding the Islands client: John Dyson)
Resembling Christmas lights decorating a mangrove, a fraction of the thousands of Scarlet Ibis we saw roosting in Caroni Swamp
St.Lucia Parrot feasting on golden apples on the edge of the Des Cartiers Forest
We hear them first, that telltale cackle of parrots the world over, echoing across the ...valley. Then we see them - flying in from the direction of the nearby DesCartiers Rainforest, a pair of glorious st.lucian parrots, the sun glinting off of their vibrant red, blue and yellow secondaries. We had parked ourselves directly opposite a golden apple tree frequented by parrots in the area, and true enough, this pair didn’t disappoint. The female perched in the uppermost branches of the tree and the male opted for a thick branch below. Almost immediately they begin to feed, their beaks slicing into the succulent flesh of the ripening golden apples, our scope offering a detailed window into their everyday lives.
A stunning bird - Green Honeycreeper
The spectacular town of Soufreirre, St.Luca
Hummingbirds are found on all of the islands. Some, like this Green Hermit, provided John with terrific photo opportunities.
On the verandah with it’s stunning backdrop of hundreds of acres of lush, rich tropical rain forest we are instantly surrounded by dozens of hummingbirds feeding on lantana sage, viburnum and numerous feeders dangling at eye level from the roof of the lodge. There is a furious buzzing of wings as the diminutive but courageous Black-throated Mango whizzes past my ear to see off three White-chested Emeralds who according to the affable lady tending the bar have encroached on his favourite feeder. While busy watching two intricately patterned Green Hermits (the giants in this collection of miniature hummers) do battle amidst a dense patch of heliconias beneath us, a call goes up that gets everyone’s attention - Long-billed Starthroat! We all rush to the east side of the deck to catch a glimpse of this infrequent visitor to the verandah. A star attraction indeed. And yet still they come, White-necked Jacobins resembling the ornate pendulum of a cuckoo clock swaying from side to side directly in front of our noses, their colours perfectly highlighted in the tropical sun. The deepest blue, most emerald of greens and that beautifully patterned white neck - incredible. Blue-throated Sapphires and Copper-rumps, so close you can see their minuscule white-socked feet gripping the feeders, are joined by dazzling Purple Honeycreepers, Yellow Orioles and Bay-headed Tanagers. By this point we’ve been out here for two hours, but no one wants to leave. We are fully captivated by the array of sights and sounds all around us, and are unanimous in our decision to stay put and soak it in.
Yellow Orioles frequent the feeders during the day...
...and bats like this Pallas's Long-tongued Bat come to the feeders at night
Breakfast began in Barbados at our beachside restaurant (photo: by BB)
John has the entire Graeme Hall Nature Reserve to himself as he takes aim (photo by BB)
Although now sadly closed to the public, as a former employee, myself and my group are granted exclusive access to the impressive boardwalk winding its way through the Graeme Hall Nature Reserve and we make use of this opportunity by getting unrivalled views of a host of forest dwelling species, from Scaly-naped Pigeons and Zenaida Doves to Bananaquits and Green-throated Caribs. Overhanging Flamboyant Tree limbs support the dainty figures of Caribbean Elaenias and Black-whiskered Vireos and observation blinds offer perfect cover from which to watch skulking herons. In the beautifully flowering White Wood Trees so common on the island, the terse sharp call of Carib Grackles (surely soon to be split to the Barbados Grackle due to the striking variation in sexual dimorphism in these birds, compared to those on other Lesser Antillean islands) and trill song of Gray Kingbirds greet the coming dawn, while a sole male Golden Warbler announces his interest in a nearby female through melodious song. Hours while away here in this perfect patch of paradise and the birding is easy, relaxed and rewarding.
This St.Lucia Warbler posed wonderfully for the camera
Ken's Caiman! (aka Spectacled Caiman)
While I am staring spellbound at the flock of Green-rumped Parrotlets, Ken has been scanning a nearby lily pond and soon gives the cry many of us had been hoping for ...”caiman”! A young Spectacled Caiman had emerged from the water and made it’s way out onto an exposed bank to bask in the warmth of the tropical sun. With gaping jaws, and subtle movements that allow the sunlight to dance across it’s glistening scales it is the star of the show, until, staggering out of my parrotlet/caiman induced stupor, I catch sight of a Masked Cardinal flitting in the branches of a nearby mangrove. Cue even more excitement and much snapping of cameras.
We had superb views of this Masked Cardinal!
The scenery on the islands was spectacular
Island life = refreshing! (captured by BB)
Antillean Crested Hummingbird feeding on hibiscus flowers in Barbados
Red-rumped Agouti were a common sighting
We were treated to incredible views of Atlantic Tarpon in Barbados (some like these six foot behemoths) were very close indeed
We begin the day in a mangrove wetland home to one of the greatest concentrations of flora and fauna on the island. After entering the Graeme Hall Nature Reserve at daybreak we make for the ornate Leaf Deck from which we are granted fabulous views of the 34 acre wetland . Gazing out across the brackish waters of the main lake, the rising sun reflected in it’s tannin-rich waters, the dorsal fins of massive Atlantic Tarpon begin to breach the surface and Red-eared Sliders seek out their favoured perches on the long tendril like roots of Red Mangroves. It is early enough that Snowy and Little Egrets have not left their roosts and even those nocturnal specialists the Black-crowned Night Herons have not yet retreated in response to the sun’s advance.