Ed Drewitt is a freelance naturalist showing people wildlife around the world. He also studies urban Peregrines and has a book published in June. Ed has been hosting groups for birdwatching at Anse Chastanet, Saint Lucia for the past 4 years.
Once you step off the plane onto the runway in St Lucia the hot sunshine hits your skin; the air smells and feels tropical and moist. The lush vegetation and colourful flowers grace towns and villages on your way to Anse Chastanet. On every other power line Grey Kingbirds, a type of flycatcher, stand tall waiting to fly out in a circle to catch an insect while gangs of Carib Grackles, black, glossy birds related to the Starling look for grubs and insects. Anse Chastanet offers the ideal location for birding which allows you to spot common birds of St Lucia including many that are only found on the island (endemics) and is well positioned to travel out from on day trips to see many of the more secretive and rarer birds in the mountain rainforests.As you enter the Treehouse Restaurant for breakfast it is worth taking your binoculars and camera to spot the local Lesser Antillean Bullfinches, bright yellow Bananaquits, and iridescent Carib Grackles looking for titbits. You may even be lucky to spot a Grey Trembler, quivering its wings in excitement. If you take a table looking out across the tree canopies you have a good chance of spotting some shy species such as the Spectacled Thrush, a brown thrush with yellow colour skin around its eyes.From the bar you can enjoy the freshest of cocktails while watching Scaly-breasted Thrashers feeding in the adjacent trees, and as the sun drops below the horizon the beautiful song of the Tropical Mockingbird permeates the airwaves. Free-tailed Bats begin to fly around in big numbers, and down by the beach the Yellow-crowned Night Heron may appear to feed on Ghost Crabs.Keep your eyes up towards the sky – you never know what may pass overhead from Frigate Birds to Brown Boobies, and Peregrines to Ospreys.Throughout Anse Chastanet, the colourful, tubular flowers provide the perfect food source for hummingbirds. There are three to look for – the Antillean Crested Hummingbird, green with a distinctive crest on its head; the Purple-throated Carib, often looks black but in the right light to a lovely purple or Merlot red; and the Green-throated Carib, a green hummingbird but without the crest.In the nearby Anse Mamim Broad-winged Hawks and American Kestrels may soar overhead and the woodland is home to Spectacled Thrushes, Black-whiskered Vireos, St Lucia Warblers, and St Lucia Pewees. The stream running through the woods is a good spot to look for Spotted Sandpipers, Little Blue and Green Herons.The dawn chorus around 6am is a time to listen for the Grey Kingbirds – the main sound you will hear in the morning accompanied by the calls of Zenaida Doves and perhaps the mockingbird.An early start is also a good time to visit some of the forest nature reserves where you have the chance to see the endemic parrot, the St Lucia Parrot. A colourful bird, this large parrot disappears in its forest habitat as its colours make it very well camouflaged.St Lucia Pewees, St Lucia Warblers and hummingbirds are all common. And in these areas you may also see or hear the St Lucia Oriole, a black and orange bird with steely grey legs and beak and the Rufous-throated Solitaire with its beautiful single note song. Meanwhile, the Millet reserve is a good place to watch for the St Lucia Black Finch as it comes to feed on coconuts put out for it.
Whether you just want to chill on the beach or fancy more of an adventure as you go birdwatching at Anse Chastanet estate or further afield into the native forests you can be sure to see something and catch a glimpse of St Lucia’s wild side.