Birding in St. Lucia, Caribbean
St. Lucia Warbler - Picture taken by Jacques Binette at The Great House.
From a bird watcher's point of view, St. Lucia is a relatively easy island to work being only 28 miles long & 14 miles wide. St. Lucia is also the most important birding destination of the Lesser Antilles as it holds either 5 or 6 single island endemics. We say 5 or 6 endemic birds because depending to who you talk to, the list of endemic birds include: The St. Lucia Parrot, the St. Lucia Black Finch, the St. Lucia Pewee, the St. Lucia Oriole and the St. Lucia Warbler. The St. Lucian race of the House Wren is considered by some as an endemic species (although this is not as yet widely accepted). Another Lesser Antillean endemic bird in St. Lucia is the endangered White-Breasted Thrasher.
The island has also a species list of around 170 of which a significant number are North American migrants. Oasis Marigot in Marigot Bay is the perfect place to stay if you are coming birding in St. Lucia, as it is centrally located on the Caribbean coast of St. Lucia from where you can easily access the best birding spots. In addition to this, the Vacation Club at Oasis Marigot has its own nature trail.
If you plan your trip ahead, it is fairly easy to see all of the 5 endemic species of St. Lucia, the 2 specialty birds (St. Lucia Wren and the White-breasted Thrasher) and many more, within a 7-day vacation. As a test, I did it in only 3 days in April 2008 with the help of 2 local guides from the Forestry Department. At Oasis Marigot, we love birding and we would like our island to develop as a birding destination and we are offering you a 15% discount on all our accommodations if you simply give us the following password when making your reservation: Jacquot Parrot 157. But for now, let us give you more information about the endemic species that you will find on our beautiful tropical island and the best birding spots around.
Jacques Binette, Managing Director at Oasis Marigot.
Millet Bird Sanctuary Trail: http://www.geocities.ws/sluforestrails/newpage10.htm
Located in the heart of St. Lucia and only a 35-minute drive from Marigot Bay, is the Millet Bird Sanctuary Trail; a heaven of bird life. Over thirty species of birds can be found there, including five endemic species: the St. Lucia Parrot, St. Lucia Black Finch, St. Lucia Oriole, St. Lucia Pewee and St. Lucia Warbler. Based on my experience, visiting this trail few times this year, it is quite easy to see 3-4 endemic species in one single visit if you go early enough in the morning. It takes approximately two hours to complete the 2.8 km (1.75 miles) walk, which is moderate to strenuous, perched at about 1,000 feet above sea level.
Des Cartiers Rainforest Trail: http://www.geocities.ws/sluforestrails/newpage7.htm
This is undoubtedly one of the best birding spot on the island, especially if you want to get the chance to see the St. Lucia Parrot. It is worth the 90-minute drive from Marigot Bay. Trek through the ultimate rainforest and view the wonderful verdant forest, discover many of St. Lucia's endemic wildlife as you walk this 2.5 miles (4 km) trail.
Gros Piton Trail: The Gros Piton Nature trail takes you to the top of one of St. Lucia's famous volcanic peaks, where a breathtaking view awaits you. It is also an excellent spot to see the St. Lucia Wren around the broad middle zone forest. You can also spot some other endemic birds as you proceed to the summit.
Around Praslin: This is best place to see the White-Breasted Thrasher, a Lesser Antillean endemic. However, a hotel and residential estate development on St Lucia threatens almost a quarter of the world population of the White-breasted Thrasher, an Endangered species. But still today, the majority - an estimated 436 pairs of these birds - are found between Praslin and Dennery. The best guide from the Forestry Department for this area is Stephen Lesmond, cell. 758-717-0798.
Maria Island: The nature preserve on Maria Island, off Vieux Fort, is home to two reptiles found nowhere else on Earth: the Kouwes snake and the Zandoli Terre lizard. In the summer, it is an important nesting area for the Sooty Tern, Brown Noddy and the Scaly-Naped Pigeon. It is also a great spot to watch seabirds flying around the island, like the magnificent Red-Billed Tropicbird.
Author's Favourite Spots:
Road to Trou Rolland Beach in Marigot Bay: This is a good spot in Marigot Bay early in the morning or at the end of the afternoon. You simply walk the road that goes from the Great House to Trou Rolland.
Great House: Some pictures taken for this page were taken either at the Great House or around it.
Bordelais: The fruit farming area behind the Bordelais correctional facility is home to many different bird species.
To get the most of your birding trip to St. Lucia, I highly suggest you to hire the naturalist guides from the Forestry Department - (758) 468-5645/5648/5649. Some of them will offer you their services including the transportation. The following guides know the birds of St. Lucia and the places where to find them:
Aloysius Charles (Millet Trail): 758-451-1691 (w), email@example.com
Lyndon John: 758-468-5635 (w), 758-718-6814 (cell.), firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephen Lesmond (Praslin & Maria Island): 758-717-0798 (cell.), email@example.com.
Adams Toussaint: 758-461-2878 (cell.), 758-518-8678 (cell.), firstname.lastname@example.org
Links to Reports following birding trips to St. Lucia:
A very good trip report (dated April 3, 2008): http://www.surfbirds.com/trip_report.php?id=1423
A recent report for 2012: http://www.wildwings.co.uk/tripreports/stlucia2012.html
Other valuable birding trip reports about St. Lucia: