Ecotourism — St. Lucia, Lesser Antilles, W.I.

Six Mimidae of St. Lucia, from the top reading across and down: Gray Trembler (Cinclocerthia gutturalis), Brown Trembler (Cinclocerthia ruficauda), 
Pearly-eyed Thrasher (Margarops fuscatus), Scaly-breasted Thrasher (Allenia fusca), Tropical Mockingbird (Mimus gilvus) and the very rare White-breasted Thrasher (Ramphocinclus brachyurus).
The six mimids (mimic thrush family) found on St. Lucia. We are aware of no greater concentration of such closely related species in such a small area or on any other nearby island.

We made one trip to the Lesser Antilles at the east end of the Caribbean Sea.  If you are weak on geography, and aren’t sure which island is which, EnjoyBirds comes with full geographical look-up features—you can be looking at any range map, and you see a dot in the blue—click it and the program tells you the name of the island and its archipelago.  The one we chose was St. Lucia, for several reasons—several endemic species, small enough for people on the island to have a “small town” spirit, yet endowed with great natural beauty and historically rich resources.  This tiny island hosts six mimic-thrush species, shown at left, including the friendly Gray Trembler, photo below, right.

The open porch, during tea, was frequented by Lesser Antillean Bulfinches, after crumbs.  But they would quickly scatter when this rather larger visitor appeared. The bird would approach other birds while feeding, lowering its wings and trembling in a "submissive" posture. But please note the long beak and lean look. The trembler would then seize any food morsels available, and if necessary dispatch any competitor with a stab from its long, dangerous bill. What a mix of behavior strategies! "Hi, I am your harmless friend." then the sword.  And I thought other mimids were aggressive (mockingbirds are, quite)!

This trembler visited us frequently on our open porch, in some lights it appeared gray, in others brown.  We call it, here, a Gray Trembler because the lower parts seem to lack convincing buff colors.  Its trembling wings and odd attitudes are combined with its very long beak and agressive oportunistic food-grabbing behavior.
A bold Gray Trembler

Illustration from EnjoyBirds of the amazing Amazon versicolor.
The endangered St. Lucia Parrot.
Illustration from the software.

One main avian attraction is the endemic wild St. Lucia Parrots, illustrated right.  (click it to hear our recording of a pair in the wild, high on the mountain near dawn, thanks to our guide, Steven Lesmond). The forestry department was very friendly and helpful, and had several pairs of parrots at their campus, but we were able to find a pair near dawn, making the recorded squawks on the mountain now a part of EnjoyBirds library of 820 plus clickable species sounds.

Marigot Bay, St. Lucia, W.I. looking south from our cottage porch. We stayed on Marigot Bay (left), the mid-western side, sheltered from the NE trade winds.  This is an ideal mix of snorkeling, birding and a relaxing family vacation.

The MIST Vice President, shown right, accompanied in song by 'roommate' Lesser Antillean Bullfinch. In the seven days, he obtained his scuba certification and wrote seven songs.  It is very hard to overstate the relaxing openness and beauty of this island, or to overly recommend it for a small family.

MIST staff, relaxing with Loxigilla noctis observing the music from the guitar head.
A music loving Bullfinch

View looking south of the western city of Soufrier, St. Lucia, W.I., and the famous twin piton mountains.
View of Soufrier, St. Lucia, W.I.
Pitons in the distance.

This is a view southward of the city of Soufriere (meaning sulfur, for the occasional volcanic fumes) and the famous striking Piton mountains that greet sailors arriving from the southwest. It must also be said that St. Lucians are a very open people, warm to strangers, with numerous generous talents.  The Forestry Department was very helpful as well!

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