St. Lucia Warbler is one of several colourful endemics we hope to see. Photo: Stuart Elsom
A small but beautiful island, St Lucia epitomises everyone’s image of the Caribbean - a sun-drenched tropical island fringed with beautiful coves and hidden beaches. We’ll visit all the important bird areas, and also visit the nearby island of St Vincent, home to its own beautiful endemic parrot and the delightful Whistling Warbler. This relaxed tour will give us some much sought-after endemics including St Lucia Parrot and St Lucia Warbler and near endemics such as Lesser Antillean Bullfinch and Purple-throated Carib, whilst also allowing us to enjoy the islands comfort and typically warm Caribbean hospitality.
Day 1. Our tour begins this afternoon at Hewanorroa International Airport on St. Lucia. On arrival we’ll head north along the island’s scenic east coast to our hotel in Rodney Bay which will be our base for 5 nights. We’ll see our first birds of this tropical paradise along the way and these may include Zenaida and Eared Doves, Magnificent Frigatebird, Carib Grackle, Tropical Mockingbird, Belted Kingfisher, American Kestrel, and Scaly-naped Pigeon. Night in Rodney Bay.
Days 2-6. A short drive from our hotel will take us to our first birding location. The east coast of St Lucia holds one of the very much sought-after endemics, the White-breasted Thrasher, and we’ll devote some time in the early morning trying to get good views of this range-restricted endemic.
We’ll then move on to Des Cartier Rainforest Trail, where we’ll enjoy a leisurely walk up the gently-sloping track. Here we’ll look for such species as Rufous-throated Solitaire, and Lesser Antillean Flycatcher as well as three species of hummingbird - Green-throated and Purple-throated Caribs which are forest-dwelling species, and the smaller and even more spectacular Antillean Crested Hummingbird. We could also see our first St Lucia Amazon - a large and spectacular endemic parrot.
The wetlands in the south of the country are an internationally important migratory stop-off for many Nearctic migrants. This time of year Aupicot Wetlands can hold up to ten different species of wader including Lesser Yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpiper and Willet. Also present should be Caribbean Coot, Little Blue and Tricoloured Herons, Great and Snowy Egrets, Osprey (of the distinctive Caribbean form ridgwayi), Belted Kingfisher, Caribbean Martins and perhaps our only ducks of the trip which are likely to include American Wigeon and Lesser Scaup. A short distance along the coast are the magnificent cliffs at Moule a Chique where we hope to enjoy views of the graceful Red-billed Tropicbird and perhaps its rarer White-tailed cousin. We’ll also keep our eyes open here for Bridled Tern and Brown Noddy.
One day we’ll skip the minibus in favour of a leisurely boat trip with Captain Mike along the island’s west coast to Soufriere. Along the way we’ll keep our eyes peeled for seabirds which could include both Red-footed and Brown Boobies, Cabot’s and Royal Terns and the first of many Laughing Gulls. Once back on land we’ll travel to Bouton where the forest should produce Gray Trembler, St Lucia Oriole, Gray Kingbird, while both Pearly-eyed and Scaly-breasted Thrashers frequent this area, as does St Lucia Amazon, the delightful St Lucia Warbler and Mangrove Cuckoo.
The dry forest of Grand Anse is home to many special birds including the island form of House Wren which is likely to be split sometime in the future as St Lucia Wren. This morning we’ll travel along a rough track in a specially adapted 4-wheel drive safari vehicle to see if we can find species Spectacled Thrush, Rufous-throated Nightjar and St Lucia Pewee, whilst on the nearby beach we’ll scan for Black Swifts working their way along the coast. Nearby at Pigeon Island causeway on the Northwest coast we’ll look for Bridled Tern, Brown Booby and Zenaida Dove amongst others. Nights in Rodney Bay.
Day 7: We’ll head to the small internal airport at Castries for a short flight out to the neighbouring island of St Vincent. Located in the Caribbean Sea, between St Lucia and Grenada, St. Vincent lies about 100 miles west of Barbados and is composed of partially submerged volcanic mountains. Its largest volcano, and the country’s highest peak La Soufrière, is active, having last erupted in 1979. The territory was disputed between France and the United Kingdom in the 18th century and only gained independence the year of that last eruption. Night in St Vincent.
Day 8: St Vincent is a very small island and at just 18 miles long and 11 miles wide it is even smaller than St Lucia! We’ll spend the whole day birding in St Vincent, moving from site to site and hoping to pick up such mouth-watering species as the delightful endemic Whistling Warbler, Grenada Flycatcher, Cocoa Thrush, Caribbean Martin, Gray Trembler, Lesser Antillean Tanager, and of course the superb St Vincent Amazon, the island’s endemic parrot. There are also island forms of both House Wren and Common Black Hawk which are both potential future splits. Night in St Vincent.
Day 9: This morning we’ll reluctantly leave our hotel and the island of St Vincent with a short flight back to St Lucia. Here we’ll spend the rest of the day looking for species we may have missed, or trying to get better views of those we saw earlier, or just savouring island life, which will be rounded off with a farewell meal. Night in Rodney Bay.
Day 10: We have a leisurely day taking in some of the key birding sites in the north of the island before heading south to pay another visit to the Aupicot Wetlands to look for any new arrivals. We’ll remain in the south of the island before travelling to the airport where the tour ends.
Updated: 22 June 2018