St. Kitts & Nevis
The Twin Island Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis has always been under the radar for Birdwatchers. This is somewhat surprising as the two islands have a well established and diverse eco-system. St. Kitts alone has 9 large Ponds, some hosting an amazing array of birdlife at certain times of the year.
St. Kitts is 68 Sq. mi. in size and is shaped a bit like a guitar. It is generally flat around the coasts becoming mountainous as you head inland. It is approximately 16 miles long and around 4 miles across at its widest point. The South-East peninsular is around 40 million years old, with the North-western part of the island including Mount Liamuiga around 1 million years old.
Both of the islands have their advantages in respect to bird watching, and we outline some of the more interesting locations. Note that the months of September and October are usually better due to the peak of the migratory season.
Great Heeds Pond: This is probably the least accessible pond. It is located directly north of the Government landfill just beyond Conaree Village. If you can get to the edge, there can be a significant number of Birds there, with a large variety of species. However, this is a large pond, and the birds are quite often far away, and sometimes at the opposite side of the pond, and a spotting scope would be very useful.
BIRD RATING: EXECELLENT
Half Moon Pond: This pond is located just north of the Frigate Bay Area.
BIRD RATING: VERY GOOD.
Muddy Point Pond: This pond is located just past the Marriott Hotel at Frigate Bay towards the Northern end of the Golf Course. BIRD RATING: POOR
Golf Course Ponds: These three ponds are located in the middle of the Golf course at Frigate Bay. They can sometimes host rare birds for St. Kitts. The last two new sightings were seen here (Black-bellied Whistling-Duck and a Wood Duck.)
BIRD RATING: GOOD
Frigate Bay Pond: This pond is located at southernmost part of Frigate Bay between the Frigate Bay Main Road and the Beach on the Caribbean Sea, and is very easily accessible. Many different species have been spotted here over the years and in the past, often had a large number of Birds. However, the development of “The Strip,” a series of bars and restaurants between the Pond and the Sea, has affected the environment of the Pond. The water level is always kept high, and whenever the level drops, it is filled by pumping in seawater directly into the pond to increase the water levels. This has eliminated the “shoreline” and changed the salinity of the water, ultimately affecting the overall eco-system to some degree. Noise pollution is also a factor.
BIRD RATING: AVERAGE
Friar’s Bay Pond: Located on the South East Peninsular road just over the hill from Frigate Bay. BIRD RATING: POOR
Great and Small Ponds: These were two ponds that were side by side, and were connected once they were full of water. The large pond is around 1 mile in diameter, a former Volcano, and is located on the South East Peninsular just beyond White House Bay. It has now been developed into a Marina. While some locations to the East are still accessible, much of the shoreline is now private land and cannot be accessed. Also the Marina development has removed much the vegetation and shoreline, so as far as birdwatching is concerned, it is only a shadow of what it used to be.
BIRD RATING; GREAT POND—GOOD, SMALL POND—NON-EXISTANT
Turtle Beach Pond: This Pond (split in two by a man made road), is located adjacent to Turtle Beach (Mosquito Bay) on the eastern end of the South East Peninsular. Providing it has a lot of water, it is excellent for birdwatching. Much of the water tends to evaporate during the dry season February to June. BIRD RATING: EXCELLENT
Major’s Bay Pond: Located at the southern tip of the road on the South East Peninsular, where the Car ferry to Nevis docks. BIRD RATING: POOR
Other Birding locations
The Basseterre Harbor: Lots of different sea birds are often seen in the harbor of the Capital, Basseterre.
Caribelle Batique Gardens: A wide variety of birds are usually seen here. It is located just off of Old Road Town, several miles west of the capital, Basseterre. There is now a fee to enter the gardens in the height of the tourism season.
Area below Caribelle Batique: The rain forest area below Caribelle Batique adjacent Sky Safaris Zip Line, just above Old Road Town. This area can be quite interesting, and the Bridled Quail-Dove can sometimes be seen, along with the Brown Trembler.
Wingfield level: The agricultural road beyond Caribelle Batique leading up to Wingfield level, which is well above the Zip Line operations adjacent Old Road Town. Sometime warblers can be seen there.
The Brimstone Hill road: A walk up this road can lead to interesting sightings from time to time. It is best not to walk up the hill when a cruise ship is in as the vehicular traffic is heavy and will scare the birds away.
South East Peninsular: Anywhere on the South East Peninsular particularly from White House Bay to Turtle Beach, Cockleshell and Major’s Bay area.
There are many other areas in the rainforest and Ghuts, all of which could lead to interesting discoveries.
Nevis is the sister island of the twin island State, and is very scenic and fairly tranquil. It is 36 sq. mi and is somewhat round like a ball, with parts of the island being dated at over 3 million years old.
Nelson’s Spring: A variety of birds can be seen in this area, and recently, over 30+ different species were seen there in a two hour period.
Interesting Birding information can be found at http://www.bio-diversity-nevis.org/new_page_2.htm and www.birdsofnevis.com