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WINGS Birding Tours – Narrative

Lesser Antilles

2022 Narrative

IN BRIEF: Nestled within the easternmost region of the Caribbean, the Lesser Antilles is comprised of a chain of islands, which running from north to south, begin in Anguilla (18.2206° N, 63.0686° W) and descend in a long sweeping arc, culminating on the Spice Isle of Grenada (12.1165° N, 61.6790° W). Ideally positioned between the North and South American continents, with the warm tranquil waters of the Caribbean Sea bordering their western coastlines and the powerful heaving Atlantic Ocean thundering against their eastern shores, these multiple island nations are ideally situated to receive large numbers of North American migrants during autumn and spring migration; vagrants from the Old World that have inadvertently crossed the Atlantic Ocean; as well as austral migrants from South America that have set off on an exploratory journey north (much as the original human inhabitants of the islands did some 3000 years BC). Added to these fascinating visitors is a wondrous array of dazzling regional breeding residents, including a wealth of endemics and near-endemics, and a host of endemic subspecies - all of which serve to saturate the islands with a veritable bounty of avifauna, and ensure your birding experience in the region will be a truly memorable one indeed.

IN DETAIL: Barbados

Setting off from our idyllic beachfront hotel located on the shimmering southwest coast of Barbados, we make the 30-minute drive on well paved roads to a tiny lily pond known only to a handful of locals. We must arrive exactly at sunrise, for within 15 minutes, our target bird will have slinked closer towards the sedge-lined banks and out of sight. Our arrival is perfectly timed and there in the centre of the pond framed by White Lotus and Pink Water Lily are three male Masked Duck - one proudly sporting a brilliant bright blue beak. These small handsome ducks are joined in this peaceful setting by the endemic subspecies of Common Gallinule unique to Barbados (barbadensis), along with Green Heron, and a rarity for the island - a Purple Gallinule. Overhead Carib (Barbados) Grackles, their nemesis the Shiny Cowbird, and the seemingly ever-present Grey Kingbird serenade us with their version of a Caribbean dawn chorus.

Following a short drive into one of only two parishes on the island that are landlocked, we use a coconut plantation as cover from which to approach a small waterbody in which Solitary Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs and Spotted Sandpiper can be seen feeding. Upon closer inspection the pond is also revealed to be the favoured wintering ground for a somewhat more reserved wader (Wilson’s Snipe), along with the lone rail seen on the trip - the ever-cautious Sora.

As midday approaches, we enjoy a local lunch of flying fish and breadfruit cou-cou set against a backdrop of the rolling waves of the Atlantic Ocean. In such a setting it would be remiss of us to not sample a world-famous Barbados Rum Punch - and so without further ado…we do. In order to be granted access to our next three islands we must be given a PCR test on Barbados. For this we travel to the lavish Crane Resort on the rugged east coast, where following testing and while awaiting results, we stroll through the lush tropical gardens and are rewarded with superb views of a female Antillean Crested Hummingbird - her delicately tipped white tail bobbing effortlessly as she manoeuvres from one flower to the next.

With several hours before our flight to St. Vincent, the following morning sees us leave the hotel at 6am and make the 5-minute drive to the largest mangrove wetland remaining on the island. Here we slowly walk along the mangrove lined paths in the presence of Black-whiskered Vireo, Caribbean Elaenia, and Scaly-naped Pigeon and enjoy a stunning view of a male “Golden Warbler” (endemic subspecies of Yellow Warbler) perched on Yellow Nutsedge and bathed in morning light. The flattering light also captures the wispy tendrils of spider web fluttering in the breeze as they unfurl from a Green-throated Carib’s nest - atop which thankfully the bird is sitting.

Our flight to St. Vincent is delayed by 7 hours (our first of two experiences of “island time” encountered at airports on this trip). But we do however receive coupons for lunch from a restaurant of our choosing at the airport - a gift from the airline which we take full and rapid advantage of.

St. Vincent

Arriving into St. Vincent in the evening, we check into our beautiful and elegantly decorated beachfront hotel and enjoy a wonderful dinner of goat roti, fresh fish or chicken. Early the next morning our vans make their way North for an audience at dawn with St. Vincent Parrots. St. Vincent is a land steeped in history, and from the time of her earliest residents the screeching calls of the mighty Amazona gulidingii have echoed across her mountainous terrain. Intense hunting pressures combined with the illegal pet trade meant that by the 1970’s this bird’s calls had almost been permanently silenced. However, thanks to a vigorous breeding program and the education of locals as to the importance and uniqueness of the island’s national bird, the population of this magnificent species is now well on the way to recovery. As the warm rays of the sun begin to penetrate the verdant forests, calls emanate from within, and we soon bare witness to the impressive scale of this recovery as dozens of these gargantuan bronze-plumaged parrots course across the valley below - every beat of their spectacular sapphire and gold flight feathers highlighted against the varied greens of the forest.

After our ascent by SUV to this magical site we descend the narrow lane, crossing fast-flowing mountain streams multiple times, before arriving at the base of the mountain. Overhead Lesser Antillean Swifts dance in the winds and Broad-winged and Common Black Hawk shriek. While preparing to leave the area, the tell-tale vocalisations of a St. Vincent Parrot is heard heading our way. A few moments later a pair have landed directly overhead in a fruiting mango tree - offering some of the closest views of this treasured bird one could possibly hope for.

Our next stop takes us into the central highlands of the island - where we make our way carefully across agricultural land dotted with lanky, swaying trees in which are perched the Lesser Antillean endemic Scaly-breasted Thrasher. Having negotiated the crop-filled fields we soon enter a magical forest typified by thick moss-laden trunks rich with epiphytes. Here we enjoy our first views of the ever-entertaining Brown Trembler - that remarkably bright golden-orange eye even more impressive when set against the deep dark mask and head of the subspecies found on St. Vincent (tenebrosa).

As we continue deeper along the winding trail into the forest, a fluttering song draws our attention to the canopy, where a small flock of Lesser Antillean Tanagers are feeding. Patience is rewarded as they descend to eye level - providing wonderful views of their buff plumage, turquoise wings and rich chestnut caps. As we move ever higher we soon stare in awe as the high elevation specialist and impressively sized Purple-throated Carib sits directly above the trail on a carefully crafted and disguised nest.

After descending we enjoy a hearty local lunch of ground provisions, rice and chicken, before a scenic drive back to the hotel and a swim in the calm waters of the Caribbean Sea.

Early morning birding in the hotel grounds provides us with our first opportunity for looks at Spectacled Thrush as it plucks palm berries in the garden, and of the elegantly coiffed male Antillean Crested Hummingbird (ornatus) - its magnificently coloured crest dancing in the sunlight as it feeds on Lantana. As our breakfast of guava juice, yoghurt and eggs and bacon is being prepared we take time to gaze out across the bay at the swaying masts of the moored catamarans, and enjoy fly-bys of Brown booby, Snowy Egret, Little Blue and Tricolored Heron and even a Belted Kingfisher.

Grenada

After a 20-minute drive to the airport we board our regional airline for the short 25-minute flight across sparkling seas to the Spice Isle of Grenada. Met by pre-arranged transport we make directly for the nearby Hartman Estate in the hope of catching a glimpse of the rarest species targeted on the entire tour - the demure Grenada Dove. With less than 130 remaining, preservation of the two pockets of dry forest habitat upon which this species relies is paramount. However, we soon sadly learn that the creation of a landfill was recently approved and has already destroyed 75% of the remaining habitat at Perseverance…meaning that Hartman Estate now represents the sole expanse of suitable habitat remaining on the island. Entering silently into Hartman, we search for this delicately patterned species. After an hour at the base of a small mound, some of us are rewarded with a brief sighting of this ghost-like figure as it walks rapidly along the forest floor. After lunch at a popular local restaurant in the heart of Georgetown, we resume birding by driving north into the densely forested interior where we encounter the endemic subspecies of Green-throated Carib (chorolaemus) feeding on the flowers of a Noni plant and the first of three endemic subspecies of House Wren seen on the tour (each almost guaranteed to be split into full species in future years).

Patience is the name of the game when it comes to the Grenada Dove, and so it proves upon our return to Hartman, where we dutifully remain perched atop a hill gazing down a trail, until finally an “oh my God” from Bob announces the arrival of a single dove seemingly wandering forlornly along an otherwise deserted trail in search of another of its kin. With funding for mongoose traps and patrols by rangers having been cut during the pandemic, the future for this species looks very bleak indeed. As we walk in single file slowly out of the park, we take pause as a single heart-wrenching and haunting call uttered by a Grenada Dove somewhere far in the distance echoes across the surrounding hillsides. How long such a call will be heard very much depends on the Grenada government and actions of conservation charities. This is a species well and truly teetering on the very brink of existence. Back at our colourful and locally owned hotel, some of us enjoy the best pina coladas (a popular drink of choice amongst tour participants) of the trip before tucking into a dinner of chicken, fish, sweet potatoes, rice and sauteed vegetables.

With our flight to St. Lucia scheduled for midday, some of us opt to return to the Hartman Estate early the next morning for another look at the dove, while others remain at the hotel for a leisurely buffet breakfast of sausage, pancakes, eggs, bacon and pineapple juice.

St. Lucia

Touching down in St. Lucia’s small regional airport in the north of the island we are the only flight for the afternoon, and so make our way to a large tent under which we complete a short covid-related questionnaire before collecting our bags and making the 45 minute drive along quiet winding roads beyond the village of Bouton and into the towering mountain range that dominates the undeveloped north east of this spectacular island. Our vehicles take us to a narrow road lined by dense forest on either side, and here we are treated to an audience with the first of this island’s unique species - a stunningly patterned St. Lucia Oriole flitting from branch to branch in the canopy of a mango tree. Soon a double-noted “pee-wee” draws our attention to an exposed branch and a fabulous view of Lesser Antillean (St. Lucia) Pewee making frequent aerial forays over the road to snatch unsuspecting winged insects. Heavily laden paw-paws prove an irresistible lure for several Lesser Antillean Bullfinches and Bananaquits, along with a superb Lesser Antillean Saltator sinking its gargantuan beak deep into the rich orange flesh of a “wounded” pawpaw. A scenic drive down to the dry forests and grasslands below follows. The road to this largely inaccessible site is riddled with potholes and has been washed away in many places, meaning that we are left with little option than to board a large open-backed truck in order to be taken to the prime habitat of one of the most coveted species on St. Lucia - the seldom seen Rufous (St. Lucia) Nightjar. Upon first arriving to the dry woodland, our hearts sink, as it is revealed that the favoured perch of a male that had been regularly calling and showing well has been felled for firewood. With February marking the beginning of breeding season, and with males keen on establishing territories our only chance for an alternate sighting is to wait and listen for the tell-tale vocalisation from this largely mysterious species. Black-faced Grassquits and Common Ground Doves entertain us while we wait, until eventually a faint call reaches our ears. No sooner do we hear it than a large silhouette appears directly overhead. NIGHTJAR!!! Incredibly one soon becomes two as a pair of these nocturnal specialists put on an elaborate show - dancing overhead in the ever-brightening moonlight.

All smiles, we return to the truck for the long slow ride back to the main road - every bump somewhat eased by the knowledge we have just been in the company of a bird few have ever or will ever have the chance to see. For the entire ride back to our waiting vans, we are serenaded by the calls of Red-snouted Treefrogs and Lesser Antillean Whistling Frogs.

Arriving into the dining room of our hotel, we appear somewhat underdressed in our hiking boots and zip-off trousers versus the evening apparel of other diners, but after a full day of travel and hugely successful birding we are totally and completely unphased. Bring on the food! And so they do - from a wide ranging menu including cream of broccoli soup, bruschetta, lamb shank, seafood in white wine sauce and much more - all served quickly and politely - in keeping with the excellent service received at this lavish resort.

The following morning with a packed breakfast in hand we make for the east coast and some of the last remaining habitat for a threatened near-endemic - the White-breasted Thrasher. We do not have to wait long as upon arrival at a little-known site, many of us get our first sighting of this rare bird bedecked in “tuxedoed” plumage perched somewhat disconcertingly over a pile of rubbish dumped at the side of the road. Many locals view this type of landscape as wasteland, but for the thrasher it is anything but, and as we explore this and another similar site it is clear that small family groups of this species are thriving in these areas of dry forest. The three birds at the second site in particular put on a brilliant show as they dart across in front of us on multiple occasions. Other highlights here include perhaps our best and closest view of the delightful and colourful St. Lucia Warbler.

From here our vehicles make their way up and over the towering spine of the island and descend into the national treasure that is Des Cartiers Rainforest. With our bellies full, we begin the slow and gradual ascent through pristine primary forest dominated by towering and epiphyte-laden endemic Lansan trees and towards the St. Lucia Parrot observation area - a prime viewing site and open window overlooking a deep and heavily forested valley below. This is a truly magical setting and upon arrival at our destination we are treated to a magic show quite unlike any other experienced on the entire tour. The mistletoe vine dominating the canopy of several trees proves an irresistible lure to myriad species. Colourful Lesser Antillean Euphonias, entertaining Grey Tremblers, dazzling Purple-throated Caribs, and inquisitive Pearly-eyed Thrashers all provide us with unbelievably close views. But it is the arrival of the bird responsible for the ethereal song that has greeted our ears since first entering this vast expanse of old growth forest that draws the largest gasps of adulation when it perches almost within touching distance. A memorable moment indeed in the company of the Rufous-throated Solitaire.

Despite the abundance of varied plumages in this “Tree of Life” one species had so far eluded us - the showpiece and star of the show - the island’s majestic endemic Amazona. We feared the worst when the heavens opened up and deluge after deluge soaked everything and everyone. A lone, drenched, bedraggled and backlit parrot was the only one to be seen immediately following the rains. But then, as the sun emerged, out of the depths of the forest came the tell-tale calls - followed by the views! This is the most colourful of the four species of endemic Amazona in the region and as small flocks began to wing their way by at eye height, the collective “oohs” and “ahhs” were testament to the brilliant sapphire blues and rich ruby reds on show. Two endemic Amazonas seen, two to go.

Following a buffet breakfast at the hotel, we prepared for our last day on the island. But first we had to make the short 3-minute drive to the testing centre in order to have a PCR and a Rapid Antigen test conducted in order to be granted entry to Martinique, Guadeloupe and Antigua. After 30 minutes at the testing centre everyone in the group had been tested, and so we made our way south to the west coast and Soufriere - one of the most beautiful areas on an already stunningly beautiful island. Our main target in these forests was the St. Lucia Black Finch and the endemic subspecies of House Wren. Our first site produced a female of the former along with a Ruddy Quail Dove, and our second site produced the latter - it’s pale underparts so much in contrast to the overall dark rufous plumage of the subspecies on other islands. With all our targets present and accounted for, we settled in for a buffet lunch featuring a variety of local dishes, all washed down with refreshing ice-cold passion fruit juice. The unparalleled views of Les Pitons weren’t bad either! Returning to the north of the island we enjoyed a beer and dinner on the seaside pier before our 30-minute flight to Martinique - just visible across the ocean expanse laid out before us.

Martinique

Morning in Martinique sees us setting out from the hotel at 6.15 in order to negotiate the long winding ascent deep into the heart of the ancient Carbet Mountains and an audience with two prized species. Surrounded by ferns and lush ficus it isn’t long before one breaks cover to perch on an exposed dry branch. The sheer brilliance of the male Blue-headed Hummingbird is on display for all to see - a glistening sapphire blue hood, ruby red lower mandible and turquoise green and heavily scaled body glint in the bright tropical sunshine. Simply spectacular. Not to be outdone a large Mangrove Cuckoo lifts off to fly above our heads providing terrific views of that impressive tail and chestnut plumage. The Carbet range is the oldest in the Lesser Antilles and as we wind our way slightly deeper into the interior we improve our chances of encountering this island’s lone endemic. The Martinique Oriole can be difficult to spot amongst the lush canopies of such dense Old Growth forest but find a stand of heliconias or bromeliads clinging to the trunk of a towering forest giant and you increase your likelihood of seeing one significantly. And so it proves, when after an hour at our second site, we are granted superb views of this bird - it’s jet black upperparts and burnt orange underparts flashing against the dark greens above us. As it becomes increasingly accustomed to our presence it descends to eye level and thereby offers the finest oriole view of the entire trip.

There are some who consider the White-breasted Thrasher on Martinique to be the nominate and that on St. Lucia to be a separate subspecies. Having already seen the thrasher on St. Lucia we turned our attention to the bird on Martinique. A 45-minute drive out of the lush forests of the Carbet and to the dry east coast provide us with a grand opportunity for sightings…especially when one decides to perch above our van in the car park!

Guadeloupe

We round off our visits to the French Overseas Territories of the Lesser Antillean region with a flight that evening to Martinique’s larger neighbour Guadeloupe. Here it is a case of early to bed and early to rise, as the inhabitants of the forests of Basse Terre keep unsociable hours (for all except we birders of course). Arriving at dawn into the National Park that comprises a whopping 22,000 hectares of the island we are greeted by what on other islands would be an improbable scene - supposedly sheepish and highly secretive Forest Thrushes hopping around the base of picnic tables and standing within 15 - 20 feet of our group! Brown Tremblers, not to be outdone, also provide incredibly close views as they perch in the open over the gazebos and even descend to the ground on occasion. However it is at the other prime birding site in Parc National du Guadeloupe, where a slow moving river winds its way beneath ancient limbs, that another normally secretive forest dweller better adheres to its modus operandi by remaining well-hidden and unmoving while perched on a fern lined limb. Nonetheless (and despite its best efforts), the highly coveted Bridled Quail Dove is seen by all. Although enthralled with the dove, a nearby drumming soon draws many of the group back into the open clearing in time for a prized sighting of a pair of Guadeloupe Woodpeckers. Each bird in turn selects a perch high in a sparsely leaved Cecropia heavily bathed in sunlight. As the birds pivot towards us the rich cinnamon-maroon breast is clearly visible.

As afternoon approaches it is time to enjoy an impressive picnic spread under the shade of a gazebo ideally situated above a river with stunning views of the rolling hillsides. With the sun high in the sky, a selection of charcuterie, pates and assortment of cheeses and baguettes, one could easily be in mainland France.

With 6 of the 9 islands having been birded and fabulously close views of endemics and endemic subspecies the norm on each island, the celebratory vin rouge flows well into the night.

Antigua & Barbuda

Day 10 begins with a large breakfast and a stroll around the hotel grounds and pool, before boarding our direct flight to the tourist hotspot of Antigua. With a beach for every day of the year, the international airport on this tiny island was easily the busiest of our entire tour. After clearing customs, we are collected by pre-arranged transport and make the 20 minute drive to our quiet Country Inn, located amongst 8 acres of sprawling tropical gardens. Before our 3-course dinner (a staple of most nights) a number of us opt for a stroll around the grounds in the company of Caribbean Elaenia, American Kestrel and White-crowned Pigeon.

The following morning boasts brilliantly bright blue skies - the perfect day to take to the seas. By 7am we have boarded our vessel to take us across to Antigua’s sister island of Barbuda. Unusually choppy seas see many of us sit atop the upper deck from where we can gaze down as dozens of flying fish take to the air and skim over the waves to evade the bow of the boat. The waters of Barbuda are a glistening turquoise blue and the colours of the sands effortlessly blend between brilliant whites and varying shades of pink. Although on arrival spectacular scenery is all around us, our priority is the endemic, and therefore before we can plunge into the tempting coastal waters, we need to find the small delicate warbler that has (to date) miraculously survived the hurricanes of yesteryear. Our search begins not five minutes’ drive from the capital, where a copse of dry scrubby shrubs shelters the last vestiges of a pond still clinging to existence under the blazing tropical sunshine. We fan out in a semicircle moving steadily away from the pond and begin to “spissh”. In swoop dozens of Black-faced Grassquits and a small flock of Shiny Cowbirds; but then a flash of yellow! A couple of minutes later, from the base of a spiny thorn bush, a brilliant Barbuda Warbler plucks up the courage to flit a little closer to us. Then as though a switch has been flicked, his cautious approach turns to bold curiosity and he is soon directly at eye level chipping away and offering absolutely sensational views. It is not long before our courageous friend is joined by several others of his kind, each perched high atop their favoured thorn bush bursting into song. What an incredible experience this is. We are well and truly surrounded and being serenaded by a species which less than four years ago many thought had been lost forever.

Barbuda is home to the largest Magnificent Frigatebird colony in the Caribbean. These giants are most commonly seen soaring high above the waves carefully scanning the waters for prey floating on or close to the surface, so it is a wonderful treat to board a dinghy that takes us across a shallow lagoon absolutely teeming with marine life (as evidenced by the hundreds of jellyfish of every shape and size floating beneath us and clearly visible from our bough) and moors us literally within touching distance of nests, chicks and adults. We spend half an hour in the presence of these incredible birds, observing their behaviour and watching as a convoy of adults lifts off and returns with food for their young. We are especially fortunate to be visiting the colony in February as there are still a large number of males present - each vainly attempting to outdo the other by inflating their impressive red dulaps to almost unfathomable proportions.

Barbuda has some of the most beautiful and untouched beaches in the Caribbean, so what better way to spend the rest of the day than to head to a charming “Robinson Crusoe-esque” beach bar to enjoy grilled lobster and rum punch! The crossing back to Antigua was significantly calmer and produced Roseate and Royal Terns, along with a lone dolphin.

Dominica

In the late morning of Day 13 we make for the wilds of Dominica. Even from the air it is evident that this is an island quite unlike any other in the region. Dense forests, black sand beaches and towering mountains shrouded in cloud dominate a land known as the Nature Lovers Island of the Caribbean. At 300sq.miles, this geologically recent volcanic island is the only island in the Caribbean (besides Jamaica…an island fifteen times her size) that boasts two endemic Amazona parrots (one of which is the largest of all the world’s Amazonas).

After receiving a Rapid Antigen test upon arrival, we wait 30 minutes for the results, and as we are all negative are free to exit the airport and begin to explore this resource rich, rugged and spectacular island. Arriving at our clifftop hotel at sunset, we enjoy a cocktail by the bar while gazing out at a sparkling sea. This is what birding on a tropical island is all about!

The following morning, we make for the nearby Syndicate Nature Trail and are almost immediately inundated with the songs and calls of myriad species; Brown Tremblers, Lesser Antillean Pewees, Red-legged Thrush, the near endemic subspecies of Lesser Antillean Saltator, and then, perched high feeding in a magnolia tree, we are afforded scope views of our 3rd Amazona - the Jaco or Red-necked Parrot. Later at this productive site we attempt to lure a wren from amongst the tangled mass of vegetation along the paved path, but instead succeed in attracting the dapper Plumbeous Warbler - a near endemic known only to Dominica and Guadeloupe.

Full of confidence (and sandwiches), we make for the lookout deep in the heart of the cloud forest. The grand prize of the Imperial awaits! En route we have similar superb views of a male Blue-headed Hummingbird as we did in Martinique - though this time feeding rather than perched. Our optimism though is quickly squashed as although we wait for nearly 4 hours at the lookout, not a single Imperial is seen or heard. This is of course a species that at the most optimistic of estimates, numbers 300 individuals - so perhaps our own optimism was ill founded. We do however finish the day’s vigil with absolutely stunning views of a Red-necked Parrot preening in a beam of sunlight, revealing every dazzling flash of colour, from the rich red crescent on the throat to the lemon-yellow band in the tail and soft blue underwing. Back at the hotel a Lesser Antillean Iguana is perched precariously over the ocean basking in what is left of the waning sunlight, while squadrons of Brown Pelicans make sorties along the glistening golden waters of the Caribbean Sea. A dinner of coconut-curried chicken and drinks are enjoyed tonight in the candlelit clifftop restaurant.

On our final morning we head back along the Syndicate Nature Trail until we are once again deep in the Northern Forest Reserve. Here, we listen. We listen for a call reminiscent of a squeaky old metallic gate, a call that resonates across the peaks and valleys of this lush verdant land and one that signals the presence of the largest Amazona on Earth. But sadly, the forest is silent. Despite one of the most scenic landscapes sprawling out before us, an early morning downpour serves to dampen our mood, as time slowly ticks by. But then out of the west and on wings almost incomprehensibly large for a parrot, a majestic Imperial streaks across the treeline. It’s dark green plumage and deep brownish-purple head are somewhat fitting for a species that lives its life in the long dark shadows cast by mighty Morne Diablotin. This is not a brightly coloured gaudy parrot of the low-lying rainforest, but rather a bird whose plumage is symbolic of the shadow and cloud amongst which it lives its life. A life under significant and near-constant threat from the illegal pet trade and annual hurricanes. Knowing we will not have better views of this magnificent bird, we descend out of the cloud and return to the hotel. Most are content to rest up and await our final birding outing of the trip - a quest for Lesser Antillean Barn Owl later that evening, but a few of us make for the south of Dominica and enjoy a hike into spectacularly pristine forest. Here we collect the final two subspecies needed for the island - Forest Thrush (dominicensis) and Rufous-throated Solitaire (dominicanus).

Our groups’ final bird is enjoyed by all - a stunningly close view of a bird currently listed as a subspecies of Ashy-faced Owl, but one that (as with so many others in the Lesser Antilles) is likely to be split into its own separate species in the not-too-distant future. Our last meal together is a deliciously prepared dinner of beef tenderloin enjoyed under a starlit sky. Laughter and final checklist announcements are interspersed with the now familiar tune of countless Lesser Antillean Whistling Frogs.

-          Ryan Chenery

Created: 03 March 2022