In a series of blogs, Ed Drewitt freelance naturalist, broadcaster and wildlife detective takes us through the St Lucia Birding experience. In this edition he takes us down to the beach at Anse Chastanet.
Lead Photo: Spotted Sandpiper, Credit: Ed Drewitt
By: Ed Drewitt
Down by the beach you’ll see many of the usual suspects that are found around Anse Chastanet – Carib Grackles, Zenaida Doves, Bananaquits and Lesser Antillean Bullfinches. However, there will be other wildlife down here too not found away from the sea.
Photo: Ghost Crab, Credit: Ed Drewitt
For starters, as you walk bare-footed along the glistening, sandy beach, white Ghost Crabs will be scurrying away down their burrows. The tideline leaves behind flotsam and jetsam providing seeds, plant material and other foods for the crabs and shorebirds, such as Spotted Sandpipers.
Photo: Antillean Crested Hummingbird, Credit: Ed Drewitt
Between the beach restaurant and the boutique, the myriad of red garden flowers is ideal for spotting the Antillean Crested Hummingbird, a small green hummingbird with a short straight beak and a grey breast. The male has a crest that in the sunshine shines bright metallic green alongside the back and neck feathers.
Photo: Brown Boobie looking at group, Credit: Ed Drewitt
Laying on the beach look out for seabirds such as Brown Boobies. Related to the Gannet, these birds feast on flying fish and dive at shallow angles into the sea to catch them just beneath the surface. Despite their size they are adept at perching on nearby cliffs and when snorkeling beyond Scuba you may even spot one of two at the cliff point. If they are out fishing you will still see where they have been perched – they leave behind large white streams of drying guano.
Photo: Chiton, Credit: Ed Drewitt
Walking between Scuba and the boat jetty, look closer at the rocks at low tide. Here you might spot chitons, mollusks or shellfish, with eight bony plates that form a protective shell. They spend their time grazing on the fine seaweeds or algae that grow on the rocks here.
Photo: Male Frigate Bird, Credit: Ed Drewitt
While spending time in the beach area you are sure to see Magnificent Frigatebirds. These large seabirds soar high above Anse Chastanet on long, thin wings and scissor-like tails. You might see them chasing other seabirds to harass them enough to regurgitate their food, giving them a free meal.
Photo: Cattle Egret breeding, Credit: Ed Drewitt
Later afternoon and into early evening are a good time to look for herons and white egrets along the beach. The very tall, white Great Egret dwarfs the smaller Snowy Egret and Cattle Egret (with yellow-orange head feathers). All may be found feeding alongside the blue-grey Little Blue Heron amongst the rocks, or by the stream or pool at Anse Mamim. At night in the darkness, another heron, the Yellow-crowned, might be lurking on the sand or in the shadows, looking for lizards and crabs, which it catches with its thick robust beak.
Ed Drewitt is a freelance naturalist, broadcaster and wildlife detective
Learn More About Bird Watching at Anse Chastanet here