Thursday, 23 July 2009

Lesser Antilles: 1. Antigua & Barbuda

We’re both back in the UK now following our separate travels; June to the Lesser Antilles, Peter to Tanzania.

June, lucky ‘girl’, has had twelve days as a guest of the Tourist Boards of several very beautiful islands in the Caribbean: Antigua & Barbuda, Montserrat and Dominica. She was with a party of tour operators visiting the islands with a view to developing birdwatching tourism and she is now working hard on the details and arrangements for a tour there in 2010 for Avian Adventures.

During the course of a four-day stay on Antigua and Barbuda, the group visited various hotels, restaurants and bars but the majority of the trip was spent visiting birding sites with local guides, Joseph Prosper and Victor Joseph of The Environmental Awareness Group.

One of the main highlights was a day trip by catamaran to Bird Island. This small island has nesting colonies of Sooty and Bridled Terns, Red-billed Tropicbird, Laughing Gulls, Brown Boobies and Brown Noddies. While the rest of the boat’s passengers snorkeled, sunbathed or beach-combed, the birders headed for the cliffs.

Another day was spent on Barbuda, just a 20-minute flight from Antigua. On arrival, there was a sumptuous breakfast at the luxurious Lighthouse Hotel hosted by General Manager, Mr. Mohammed Sallah but soon it was back to business with the rest of the day spent seeking out birds. There was a visit to what is said to be the largest Frigatebird sanctuary in the Western Hemisphere with great opportunities for photography, but the climax of the trip was a sighting of the endemic Barbuda Warbler. Still considered a race of Adelaide’s Warbler in 1991 when this stamp was issued, it was given full species status in 2000.

At the end of the trip and after visits to Montserrat and Dominica, having checked in at the airport for the return flight to the UK, there was time for lunch at the Sticky Wicket restaurant adjacent to the (Sir Allen) Stanford Cricket Ground.

Montserrat and Dominica to follow...

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