Go birding at St.Lucia’s Anse Chastanet

Birdwatching experiences at St.Lucia’s Anse Chastanet Resort now include specialist birder weeks in October

When birdwatchers consider a new destination for their next holiday, one of the first questions they ask is “what are the speciality birds of the area?”. High on their list of priorities will be birds that are endemic to that location – in other words, they are found nowhere else on earth. St Lucia is blessed with five such species and four of them can be found within the grounds of Anse Chastanet with the fifth located not too far away.

Firstly there is the St Lucia Pewee – a delightful small flycatcher; green on top and orange underneath which sallies out from its favored perch in search of prey before returning to the same branch. These can be found both along the entrance track to the resort and also in the resort estate at Anse Mamin. Next, the St Lucia Warbler, both brightly colored and inquisitive; blue-gray above with bright yellow under-parts and black facial markings, it is widespread throughout the grounds.

Not quite as numerous, but both dramatic and boldly colored is the yellow and black St Lucia Oriole. Back in 1987, there were considered to be less than 60 pairs in existence, however there has been a considerable recovery since and probably two different pairs can be found at Anse Mamin.

Finally, there is “Jacquot,” St.Lucia’s  national bird, officially known as the St Lucia Parrot. Saved from certain extinction, there is now a flourishing population of perhaps 1,000 birds normally found in higher elevation rainforest – an hour’s drive away.

Whilst not strictly endemic, two other species easily found on property only occur on one or two nearby islands: the Lesser Antillean Saltator and the Gray Trembler. Both are easily found in the damp lowland deciduous estates and the drier forested slopes.

However, you don’t have to hike into the woods to find a wealth of colorful birdlife. Both Green and Purple-throated Caribs together with their tiny relative the Antillean Crested Hummingbird can be found taking nectar from the flowerbeds surrounding the accommodation areas; both Zenaida Doves and Common Ground-Doves amble along the walkways in the early mornings whilst Scaly-naped Pigeons, Scaly-breasted Thrashers, Tropical Mockingbirds and Gray Kingbirds are ever present along the tree-lined roadways. Overhead, both Broad-winged Hawks and American Kestrels keep an eye out for prey; Magnificent Frigate birds, or “Cisseau” as they are known locally simply hang in the air looking for a free meal whilst in the restaurant, if you don’t keep a watchful eye on your butter or jam, those piratical Lesser Antillean Bullfinches and Bananaquits will enjoy a stolen breakfast.

And a final note on the subject of “special birds.” Keen “birders” will be well aware just how shy and elusive Mangrove Cuckoos are to see – there is nowhere in the world where this species is easier to find than at Anse Chastanet

Birdwatching weeks at Anse Chastanet

Guests staying at Anse Chastanet St.Lucia between Oct 1-15 have the opportunity to partake in special birdwatching events hosted by Martyn Kenefick,  a Caribbean based ornithologist and bird book author. While the resort offers birdwatching yearround, a specialist program has been created for avid bird watchers from Oct 1-15.

The Anse Chastanet resort property encompasses 600 lush tropical acres including the historical French Colonial plantation of Anse Mamin with very good and easily accessible birdwatching opportunities right on the resort property. In addition, there are birdwatching locations on other parts of the island such as the general Piton area, on the Maria Islands, Quilesse Forest Reserve and on the island’s East Coast

The specialist program includes one full day and two half day island excursions to birdwatching sites off the resort property, one half day whale watching trip, in addition to which Mr Kenefick will personally guide 2-3 hours birdwatching estate tours and hold daily talks about the birdwatching ( Mon- Fri).

The specialist program can be added to any reservation of 7 nights or more at Anse Chastanet. The program will run Mon- Fri. The full event package is offered at US 450 per person. To sign up for the program please contact Anse Chastanet Resort via  adventure@ansechastanet.com or call Tel 800-223-1108.

For more resort information visit http://www.ansechastanet.com

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