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Millet forest office

"Garden" at Forest office

Forestry Office

"Garden" around the office

The tour companies at the hotels do run some trips into the rain forest but I found these didn't quite offer what I wanted, as some were for just three quarters of an hour, with others a full day including Jeep ride. One company did offer a tour called rain forest wonder which was a to three hours walk in the rainforest, but as usual, this needed a minimum of a certain number of people to run.

However, the Virgin representatives managed to book a Forestry Guide and the taxi to one of the areas where St Lucia parrots were fairly easy to find. So, at 5 in the morning, I was picked up by a driver called Winston, who was going to drive me there and back for 200 East Caribbean dollars. The drive took about 1 hour, and it was light when we arrived at the reserve entrance. I was met there by Charmaine, who was to be the guide, and Davidson who assisted in cutting down some of the plants on the path. We walked what was only a short way, after being dropped off on a rough track by Winston. Apparently, this area actually belongs to the father of Charmaine, and amongst the rainforest itself, which is fairly open here, they do have a banana plantation and mango trees, which fruit earlier in the season. When we had walked about 400 metres, we were overlooked by the forest clad peak, which had parrots flying around it even before we stopped. Rather than this being the rainforest walk, it was more of a rainforest watch, which suited, because Winston cleared a small area for the telescope and the plan was to sit and watch for the birds that appeared.

Peak

Forest

Peak for St Lucia Parrots

Rain forest

It is likely that the forestry are rightly proud of their St Lucia parrots, and this is the main quarry at this particular spot. The best time to see them is in the mango fruiting season when they come down very close and are quite easy to approach. However, views of these birds flying around the peaks were good enough for such a rare species. We stood in the same spot and watched for birds for about three hours. Predictably, Bullfinches and Bananaquits were very common here but as time progressed, many more species not only showed but were quite close. In the trees surrounding the spot we have chosen, we had good views of the surrounding forested hills which, because it was a rain forest, were a wonderful verdant green and almost totally covered with trees. We were also fortunate that, despite being in a rain forest, the weather held out and was bright and sunny for all of the stay, with just a few clouds appearing overhead. It made for much easier bird watching.

Lesser Antillean Saltator

Green-throated Carib

Lesser Antillean Saltator

Green-throated Carib

St Lucia Warbler

Purple-throated Carib

St Lucia ("Adelaide's") Warbler

Purple-throated Carib

Early on St Lucia (Adelaide's) Warblers started to appear as well as frequent Lesser Antillean Saltators. Frustratingly, many birds were seen further up the hillside flying in and out and were likely to include both Pearly-eyed Thrashers and Tremblers, but could not be seen well enough to identify positively. Lesser Antillean Saltators were much more obliging closer in, and fed on the fruited trees in our surrounds. Hummingbirds were very common, here particularly the two Caribs, but also Antillean Crested as well. Later on in the morning swifts appeared overhead, most numerous were the buzzing Lesser Antillean Swifts, but higher up were also Black Swifts and these showed flight comparison very well. Scaly-naped Pigeons also appeared on fly pasts. Towards the end of our stay here, a pair of St Lucia Orioles were quite close by and added to the two I had seen as soon as we had arrived at 6 o'clock next to the headquarters. Many other birds were heard and either not identified or seen in many cases, and these included what apparently were Trembler and even Euphonia above us.

At just before 9:30, we walked back past the workers in the banana plantations the few hundred metres to the taxi again. Winston drove us the short distance back to the office, and I spent another half to three-quarters of an hour here looking into the trees (or garden as Charmaine called it) with the hope of finding Pearly-eyed Thrasher. None were here but two or three Tremblers were present. Good views were had of these, but with no comparison it was difficult at the time to identify which of the two Tremblers they were. Initial thoughts were Grey Trembler, since they seemed to lack the Rufous tinge that would be present on Brown Trembler. It was surprising that Charmaine thought there was only one Trembler on the island, and pointed to a poster in the office which showed that Trembler was outlined as a single species. Also while here, some very close views of St Lucia Oriole, and yet more good views of both Carib hummingbirds and single Caribbean Elaenia in canopy.

St Lucia Oriole

Grey Trembler

St Lucia Oriole

Grey Trembler

Home

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