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Birdwatching at Anse Chastanet – Martyn Kenefick

Martyn Kenefick is an English “expat” who has lived in Trinidad for the last 14 years since taking early retirement from the Financial Services industry in the UK. Having been an active “birder” since the early 70’s .. He is a freelance ornithologist and bird watching guide. He is the primary author of the recently published Field Guide to the Birds of Trinidad & Tobago and also the Hon Sec of the Trinidad & Tobago Rare Birds Committee” and is a fan of birdwatching at Anse Chastanet.

Four of Saint Lucia’s endemic species can be found within the grounds of Anse Chastanet with the others located not too far away.

Firstly there is the St Lucia Pewee – a delightful small flycatcher; green on top and orange underneath which sallies out from its favored perch in search of prey before returning to the same branch. These can be found both along the entrance track to the resort and also in the estate at Anse Mamin. Next, the St Lucia Warbler, both brightly colored and inquisitive; blue-gray above with bright yellow under-parts and black facial markings, it is widespread throughout the grounds.

Not quite as numerous, but both dramatic and boldly colored is the yellow and black St Lucia Oriole. Back in 1987, there were considered to be less than 60 pairs in existence, however there has been a considerable recovery since and probably two different pairs can be found at Anse Mamin.
  
Finally, there is “Jacquot,” our national bird, officially known as the St Lucia Parrot or Amazona Versicolor. Threatened by extinction in the 80’s, there now is a flourishing population of perhaps 1,000 birds normally found in the nearby rainforest and high-elevation wooded areas.

Whilst not strictly endemic, two other species easily found on property only occur on one or two nearby islands: the Lesser Antillean Saltator and the Gray Trembler. Both are easily found in the damp lowland deciduous estates and the drier forested slopes.

However, you don’t have to hike into the woods to find a wealth of colorful birdlife. Both Green and Purple-throated Caribs together with their tiny relative the Antillean Crested Hummingbird can be found taking nectar from the flowerbeds surrounding the accommodation areas; both Zenaida Doves and Common Ground-Doves amble along the walkways in the early mornings whilst Scaly-naped Pigeons, Scaly-breasted Thrashers, Tropical Mockingbirds and Gray Kingbirds are ever present along the tree-lined roadways. Overhead, both Broad-winged Hawks and American Kestrels keep an eye out for prey; Magnificent Frigate birds, or “Cisseau” as they are known locally simply hang in the air looking for a free meal whilst in the restaurant, if you don’t keep a watchful eye on your butter or jam, those piratical Lesser Antillean Bullfinches and Bananaquits will enjoy a stolen breakfast.
 
And a final note on the subject of “special birds.” Keen “birders” will be well aware just how shy and elusive Mangrove Cuckoos are to see – there is nowhere in the world where this species is easier to find than at Anse Chastanet.


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