The earlier pictures were taken on my wee compact Canon ixus 970IS, which involved sneaking up on the butterflies. This can be very frustrating when they fly off, but very rewarding when they don't!

Since 2012 I have been using a Panasonic Lumix FZ150, which allows me to zoom in to the butterflies from a couple of metres away.



Monday, 14 January 2013

St Lucia Birds and other Wildlife

Sitting here with a cold and a sore back, watching the snow come down outside, I thought I would add some pictures of birds that I saw in St Lucia. It seems amazing that I was there in the warmth only 9 days ago!! I am not an expert birder, so some of my identifications could be wrong.

This is a female Carrib Grackle. I took loads of pictures of males, but deleted them from my camera, thinking I would get a better one later on our holiday. Now I find I don't have any! The male is completely black with bright yellow eyes. They seemed to be the St Lucian equivalent to starlings and a large flock of them constantly checked out the dining area at the resort, taking the opportunity to steal a bit of dropped food or sachet of sugar! They were the most common bird on the resort and made quite a bit of noise.

The other black bird I saw was the Shiny Cowbird. This was a little smaller than the Grackle and had an amazing iridescence to its feathers varying from blue to purple depending on how the light hit it. Unfortunately, my picture hasn't captured this.

I was very surprised to see that Cattle Egrets wandered around the grounds of the resort, quite unconcerned about the people there. They were to be seen all over the island on any open ground.

I was surprised to see a Black-crowned Night Heron at the resort when I crossed a bridge. At first I was concerned as I thought it had a bit of plastic around its neck, but later discovered that it was its long feathery crest!

I was surprised when this flew across the path in front of me and landed in a tree. I had never seen a bird with a badger's head before! Turns out to be a Yellow-crowned Night Heron.

It was fantastic to see Humming Birds all around the island. There are three species occurring on St Lucia, the Purple-throated Carib, the Green-throated Carib and the Antillian Crested Hummingbird. They were very tame, very rapid and often had me fooled while I was searching for butterflies! I didn't notice any Purple-throated Caribs, but I saw plenty of the other two. I took hundreds of pictures but most of them turned out to be just green blurs!

Here is another one taking an early morning shower in the spray of a leaking pipe! There was also a large brown butterfly at the same spot, but it flew off before I saw what it was.


Another of my favourites was the Lesser Antillian Bullfinch. The male is black with a red chin, while the female is various shades of brown and grey. They seemed to occur all over the island, but not in great numbers. They would make quick assaults on the dining area searching for crumbs. These two were photographed at a feeding area in a rain forest visitor centre.


Here is one scavenging in the dining area.


There are several species of doves and pigeons on St Lucia, although I only noticed three. The most common at the resort was the Zenaida Dove. They had a lovely patches of purple iridescence on the sides of their necks.

There were a number of Collared Doves at the resort. They don't appear in the book I have, and I guess that they are the same species as we have here in Scotland and they have been introduced.

My favourite dove was the Common Ground Dove. These lovely little birds are only a little larger than a sparrow and they tended to go around in pairs!

The Bananaquit was a noisy little bird. It seemed to compete with the Gracles to see who could make the most noise and it was just as inquisitive.

Another bird that I regularly saw out to sea was the Magnificent Frigatebird. Unfortunately I didn't think to try and take a picture of one! Surprisingly, for and island, I didn't see any gulls and only one wader which I was told was a Yellowlegs! There were a lot more birds that I saw, but I have no idea what they were!

It was amazing how tame the birds seemed to be there and considering that I didn't specifically look for them I was surprised how many I saw.


A few other bits and pieces of wildlife from St Lucia. Everywhere I went I saw lizards sunbathing or scurrying off into the undergrowth. I thought that I recognised two distinct species, but now I think they were both the St Lucian Anole. Apparently this is very variable, and it occurs as a brown lizard in dryer areas and green in wetter areas. This is one I saw at the resort.

And this is one I saw on a building in the rain forest.

This is a little gecko that lived in our bathroom. It was only three or four centimetres long!

There are a few other species of lizards including whiptails and an iguana, which lives in the dryer north west of the island. Apparently the iguana can grow up to six feet in length. It would have been interesting to have encountered one of those! Frogs were also abundant and were the noisiest thing about after dark, making regular peeping noises. There are also introduced giant Cane Toads there, which grow up to about six inches long. Cane Toads seem to be regular victims on the roads. The only wild mammal I saw was also sadly squashed. It was an opossum that we found at the side of the road during an early morning walk.

Just about everywhere you looked there were holes and piles of soil. These were created by land crabs. I think they are the St Lucian equivalent of moles!

They seemed quite variable in colour.

I spotted these caterpillars on the first day of our holiday at the resort. I was amazed at their size - about 9 centimetres long. Each day they grew bigger until they were about 20 centimetres long and then they disappeared. I don't know if they had gone off to pupate or if a gardener had decided that they had eaten enough of the plant and had dispatched them. Checking the internet since we returned home it appears that they are Frangipani Hawkmoth caterpillars. The moth is disappointingly dull compared to the caterpillar!

All of these pictures apart from the bullfinches were taken at Smugglers Cove Resort. It was amazing how much wildlife there was around when you looked for it. I would love to return to St Lucia and spend more time exploring the rest of the island and seeing the amazing plants, animals, beautiful scenery and friendly people again.

2 comments:

  1. I have to congratulate you for taking such excellent photos. You have a rich resource of a wide array of fauna in your blog! And your images are lovely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Stiletto. I have been enjoying your blog too!! It is great being able to share pictures and thoughts with people from all around the world.

      Delete