Saturday, 9 November 2013

Missing St. Lucia

It has only taken a week of real life to push my recent holiday into the seemingly dim and distant past. A week ago today I was still there, still warm. Now repatriated to Wanstead, I'm cold and miserable. It's raining outside. Cold, miserable, dreary and above all pathetic rain. Not real rain. Real rain is tropical, real rain is intense, it properly soaks you. And real rain is warm, and tends to blow over quickly. The crappy excuse we get for rain here just sits on top of us, gently pattering away, for hours and hours until it has killed the entire day. Which is what has happened today. After a late finish yesterday I went straight to bed and slept for as long as I could. This meant I missed the semi-decent okayish weather this morning. A quick twitch for a local Glossy Ibis, and then the skies went grey and the dreariness started. There has been no let up, so now I'm starting to get through some of my St. Lucia stuff.

I don't tend to go in for proper trip reports, but rather string a whole load of blog posts together and hope they stick. So a quick run-down, a few photos and a list of birds is all you're going to get. We booked a package with Virgin Atlantic to Sugar Beach, which is the new name for the Jalousie Plantation, and when you see the photos you will most assuredly be jalous. Situated between the iconic Pitons, it was absurdly luxurious, easily one of the nicest places I have ever stayed. I get plenty of jokes about butlers, but this time I actually had one. We managed to get upgraded without even asking to a nicer room, one with its own roof terrace and plunge pool, and hippo-like this allowed me to spend many happy hours sploshing and lolling with a fabulous view. And as we were up one storey, I could also see into the tops of nearby trees, which tended to be filled with Bananaquits and other nice things. In fact the tree next to our roof terrace was the only place that I saw Grey Trembler the whole week, as it took shelter during a bout of rain and started singing.

It got light every day around six, and dark by half five. As the light fell, so the zeets of Bananaquits were replaced by the chirping of insects and frogs. There were huge toads around the little pools (not the swimming pool), tree frogs and geckos everywhere, and some gigantic moths. This is one of the things I love about the tropics, the noise at night - it's superb. A highlight was watching a small frog climb up one of the windows from the inside. Every day we nothing to do, and quickly developed a routine. Breakfast, after which Mrs L would tinkle on her flute while I went off and took photos. The rest of the day was on the terrace chilling, or on the beach swimming, snorkelling, sleeping and reading, with occasional forays for Hummingbirds. A quick freshen up, rum and beers on the terrace before dinner on the beach. Fantastic, would that I could go every year, but I fear 2014 is so full already that I won't be seeing the Caribbean for a long time.

The resort is set on quite a lot of land, but doesn't have intensive accommodation - rather little pockets of dwellings, so you get a sense of isolation. Apart from when the guy comes to sweep the terrace, another bloke turns up with fresh ice, another to turn the bed down, another other words lots of people being lovely and helpful, but also not leaving you alone, which when all I wanted to do was wallow.

There was a fabulous beach, a great pool, and a few bars and restaurants, all set in lovely gardens. No Hummingbird feeders, but plenty of flowers. There was a really cool but bird-free rainforest walk, and an amazing spa that we couldn't afford to use. All in all it was very conducive to relaxation, and bar a morning out with a bird guide, there was no compelling reason to leave the hotel grounds, and so didn't. I found a slightly less beautiful bit of the grounds that was quite birdy, and so spent a bit of time there, but compared to the Blue Waters Inn on Tobago it was a lot more manicured and thus there were fewer birds around. Given that this wasn't a birding trip, I saw no problem with that. By far the most common bird was the Carib Grackle, followed probably by Lesser Antillean BullfinchBananaquit, Antillean Crested Hummingbird, and Zenaida DoveBrown Booby, Spotted Sandpiper and Little Blue Heron were seen daily down at the beach, and the little pool near our room had a resident but shy Green Heron.

St. Lucia race of Lesser Antillean Bullfinch, sat on St. Lucia race of beer, Piton.

Here's the list - if a bird was only seen on the trip into the centre of the island, it's in italics, otherwise they were all in the hotel gounds. A meagre 38 species, but I assure you I wasn't even trying. I even missed the St. Lucia Parrot and did nothing about it, too happy in my little pool.

Brown Booby
Magnificent Frigatebird
Royal Tern
Little Blue Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Green Heron
Cattle Egret
Spotted Sandpiper
American Kestrel
Broad-winged Hawk
Common Ground Dove
Zenaida Dove
Mangrove Cuckoo
Lesser Antillean Swift
Antillean Crested Hummingbird
Purple-throated Carib
Green-throated Carib
Lesser Antillean Flycatcher
Grey Kingbird
Caribbean Elaenia
St. Lucia Pewee
Grey Trembler
Brown Trembler
Tropical Mockingbird
Scaly-breasted Thrasher
Pearly-eyed Thrasher
Rufous-throated Solitaire
Black-whiskered Vireo
Blackpoll Warbler
St. Lucia Warbler
Antillean Euphonia
St. Lucia Oriole
Carib Grackle
Lesser Antillean Saltator
Black-faced Grassquit
St. Lucia Black Finch
Lesser Antillean Bullfinch

1 comment:

  1. The Bullfinch on the beer tis a bit good, especially from someone that doesn't get out much.