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phone number: (758)468-5649/5645/5648/5635

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Alien Invasive Green Iguana; a Threat to Iyanola, St. Lucia’s Iguana

By: Jeanette Victor
Forestry Department

An iguana is an iguana is an iguana! Some say but that is not the case!
Although the invasive iguana located in the Soufriere area has similarities with our unique St. Lucia iguana found at the North East coast; there are marked differences. 

Similarities between St. Lucia Iguana and Alien Invasive Iguana
v  Both iguanas are known scientifically as Iguana iguana having the same local name The Green Iguana.
v  Their offspring are bright green.
v  They feed on the same umbrella vine known as lyenn dous.
v  Their defense mechanism is lashing their opponents with their long hard tail.
v  They both are tree lovers and are able to conceal themselves in the tress.
 v  The nesting period is from February to May.

Differences between the St. Lucia Iguana and Alien Invasive Iguana
Characteristics of the St. Lucia Iguana:
v  Found along the North East Coast of the island; Louvette and Grand Anse.
v  Adults are light green with predominant black stripes.
v   Adult males have a piece of black skin hanging from their neck which is called a dewlap that could be inflated to attract females during courtship.
v  The female lays 25 eggs in one clutch
v  Scales to the back of their head near the jawbone is smaller.
v  Their iris is white or cream

Characteristics of the Alien Invasive Iguana
v  Occupies the west coast (Soufriere) of the island and was brought to the island by individuals as pets from Canada.
v  Adults color remains the same bright green as the young ones.
v  Adult males have a bright orange dewlap.
v  Females lay more than 50 eggs in one clutch. Larger scales to the back of the jawbone.

Threats to our Native Iguana by the Invasive Alien Iguana?
Oh Yes! 
Here are a few of the threats that may arise
v  Loss of our unique iguana if it happens to cross- breed with the alien iguana.
v  Extinction of our native iguana through competition for habitat and food.
v  Future generations may be robbed of the history of our island never knowing our native iguana.

Let’s all play our part and educate one another to help in the eradication of this Alien Invasive Iguana before it’s too late!

Map showing location of Native and Alien Invasive Iguanas

Pigs Gone Wild; A Real Nuisance!!

By: Alwin Dornelly
Forestry Department

Feral or wild pigs (Sus scrofa) are described world-wide as one of the worst invasive species and are considered to be an enormous liability to natural ecosystems, biodiversity, agricultural production and human health. They compete directly with native fauna, and have even caused the extinction of some of those species.
Their omnivorous diet and their burrowing habits contributes to altering forest processes, reducing the growth of native plants, and consequently paving the way for the introduction of invasive plants. Feral pigs are especially attracted to waterlogged and riparian habitats, and so alter the structure and functioning of important water courses. Feral pigs also cause significant damage to agricultural crops and livestock, directly resulting in the loss of several million dollars in revenue to national economies.  Furthermore, they are known to act as vectors and reservoirs for a number of livestock and human diseases, both exotic and indigenous.

In Saint Lucia, the Forestry Department is growing increasingly concerned about the activities of feral pigs in the Government Forest Reserve and adjacent private lands. Several reports from the public and direct observations from department staff have shown that feral pig activities are increasing and causing damage to the natural vegetation and wildlife found within St. Lucia’s rainforest. Feral pig activity, seen near important water courses such as rivers and streams, may be contaminating our water sources.  The situation may be worsened by their reported presence on private lands and other areas adjacent to the Forest Reserve, significantly contributing to economic damage to private farms.
How did these pigs get into Saint Lucia’s forest in the first place?  Pigs are native to Europe and continental Asia, as far south and east as the Malaysian Peninsular, as well as to the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Java. It is generally believed that domestic pigs were introduced to the West Indies during the voyages of Christopher Columbus in the 1400s, and that there was a subsequent spread to other islands, which he did not visit. Pigs have been farmed in Saint Lucia ever since colonial times, right up to the present, where they have proliferated, escaped through negligence or otherwise, and in some cases have become pests. Many farmers have perhaps allowed their pigs to forage freely in adjacent areas and were not successful in re-capturing them. Some of those pigs strayed into the forest areas and over several generations have survived there.

The effort required to eradicate (completely remove) feral pigs may be too expensive. What is needed is a sustainable management method, where population size is kept at a minimum threshold minimizing the damage caused by wild pigs. The Forestry Department has been challenged in organizing the known pig hunters on the island into organized community groups and training them in newer methods of entrapment than the traditional method of using dogs and guns. Most hunters do not own a licensed gun. They mostly form hunting expeditions with someone who owns a licensed gun.

Any response by the Forestry Department at solving the problem must take on a strategic and coordinated approach and must involve all stakeholders. Efforts must be sustained over time through adequate funding, adequate monitoring, and actions taken must be evaluated. This will ensure that desired results are achieved.

The task is great but we must continue to forge ahead in order to mitigate the damage caused to our forest ecosystem, waterways and farms by these feral pigs!


Allena A. Joseph
Department of Fisheries

Colorful tropical fish are fun to watch in an aquarium or a home fish tank. But what happens when exotic fish are released into the wild?  Most often these fish survive and start taking over the sea. One such example is the Lionfish- an invasive alien species that may soon threaten our St Lucian waters as it comes down to our seas in ocean currents.

The Lionfish, known scientifically as Pterois volitans, is hard to miss with its red and white stripes and long venomous spines. This fish is native to the tropical Indian and Pacific region from Japan to Australia.  Officials and scientists believe that the lionfish was introduced into the Atlantic Ocean in 1992 after escaping from an aquarium in Florida in the wake of Hurricane Andrew.  Since then the Lionfish have made our Caribbean waters their home and confirmed sightings have been on the rise since 2004.

The Lionfish traveled to the Bahamas over ten years ago, but it was not until 2004 that reports of the sightings were confirmed. The number of Lionfish sighted has increased significantly as the population spreads across the Caribbean region. Lionfish have been observed all over the Bahamian archipelago, including the Turks and Caicos Islands. These alien fish have found their way to as far south as Bonaire where the first confirmed report was on October 26th 2009.  Since then, approximately 60 lionfish sightings have been reported in Bonaire.  Also increasing numbers of lionfish have been sighted in neighboring Dominica, St. Kitts Nevis, Antigua and more recently Martinique!

Lionfish are a threat to our already stressed marine ecosystem.  They have a BIG appetite and feed on all the fish found on our coral reefs. Lionfish are able to grow and reproduce faster than native species like our snapper or pot fish.  There are few fish that can eat the Lionfish; therefore their population keeps growing much faster than that of other fish.  Because of this, they can pose a serious threat to native fish, their habitat, coral reefs and overall ecosystem function. They feed on many of our important fish species.  They eat young snapper, grunt and grouper species, leaving none behind to reproduce to support the fishery that is important for food here in Saint Lucia.

Lionfish are also harmful to humans with its venomous spines and pose a threat to sea bathers, divers and fishers. The lionfish spines release a venomous sting that is fatal to its prey and can be very painful and dangerous to humans.  A lionfish sting is very unpleasant and can make a person quite sick.  Its painful sting can cause a wide range of symptoms from bellyache and swelling to chest pain and seizures.  If you or someone you know is stung by a lionfish there are steps you can take to reduce the effects of the sting.  

Once the Lionfish invades the marine environment they are here to stay.  There is no way to completely get rid of them from our waters. However, every Saint Lucian can play a part to help control this invasion by staying informed and following proper guidelines. Together we can protect our fisheries from the harmful effects of the lionfish.  Let us all do our part! And be prepared for the invasion.

One could say that it was just a matter of time till the invasive Pacific Lionfish was spotted in St. Lucia's waters. It was spotted at the Honeymoon Reef by a visitor on a dive with Sandals Dive Center   at the end of October and an official response on this serious Fisheries matter has been made by the Fisheries Department.

  If you spot a lionfish do not touch it.  Report ALL Lionfish sightings to the Department of Fisheries at telephone number (758) 468-4140/43 or the Marine Police at (758) 456- 3870 or the Soufriere Marine Management Association at (758) 459- 5500

Invasive Alien Species (IAS)

Article by: The Forestry Department

According to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CDB) 2009, “Invasive Alien Species (IAS) are plants, animals, pathogens and other organisms that are non-native to an ecosystem and which may cause economic or environmental harm or adversely affect human health”. Invasive alien species are introduced accidentally or intentionally by human or their activities.

Invasive species negatively impact on a country’s unique biodiversity by reducing species abundance and diversity and are capable of causing extinctions of native plants and animals by competing with native organisms for limited resources, forcing native species to decline in population or disappear from their natural environment. IAS tends to be highly adaptive and can live in a wide range of environments and they are also highly competitive and very successful at reproducing. IAS negatively impact on the resources that humans need for survival such as food, clean water and shelter; these species carry diseases and can directly harm humans and also impact the species humans depend on for livelihood such as farm animals and crops.

The spread of IAS is already creating a complex challenge that threatens the natural biological riches of the earth and the well being of our people. In the Caribbean for example, many of the unique plants and animals are amongst the most endangered in the world mainly because of the size of most of the islands which means that the total population size of these species are naturally small and make them especially vulnerable to any disturbance. While this problem is global, the nature and severity of the impacts on the society, economic life and health are unequally distributed across nations and regions and for this reason decision makers must give awareness raising and education regarding IAS high priority in their action plans.

There are a number of steps that can be taken depending on the invasive situation such as:

Prevention: such as keeping species out or exclusion by quarantine.

Eradication: once the species has reached the island, the next best option is to eradicate; this reduces the pest impact and the cost of managing the pest.

Containment or exclusion means preventing the pest from spreading out of or into a defined area. This can be used to keep important (but invasive) crop species from escaping from farmland, or to keep invasive from spreading into nature reserves or other natural areas.

Site-specific control means keeping the pest’s population below a certain level in defined areas, such as reserves or other natural areas.

Biological control means introducing a natural enemy of the pest, such as a predator or disease of it, to control its population; properly researched bio-control using carefully selected agents that attack only the target species and nothing else can sometimes bring serious pests under control without causing additional problems. 

Celebrate the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity (UNDB) 2011-2020

By: Anita James
Biodiversity Unit
Ministry of Agriculture

Japan hosted the 10th Conference of Parties (COP) Meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2010 in October. It called on the COP to recommend to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to declare 2011-2020 as the United Nations Decade of Biodiversity. This decision was passed at a resolution during the sixty fifth session of the UNGA (United Nations General Assembly) in 2010.

Now you may be wondering why there is a need for a decade dedicated to biodiversity after there was a full twelve months in 2010?  The answer is simply that it was deemed that the rate of loss of biodiversity would have been reduced by 2010. However, that turned out not to be the case.  As a result, there is need to focus concerted effort on conserving biodiversity over a longer period of time. It is hoped that by implementing the strategic plan for biodiversity agreed upon at the COP in 2010, for the period 2011-2020, that that noble goal will be achieved.  It is felt that with such a decision taken at such a high political level to observe the decade of biodiversity, that countries would be more encouraged to implement the plan. The resolution asks The Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki Moon to lead the coordination of activities for the decade, on behalf of the UN system, with the support of the secretariat of the CBD and the secretariats of other biodiversity-related conventions and relevant UN funds, programmes and agencies.

The decade will seek to promote the involvement of a variety of national and intergovernmental actors and other stakeholders in the goal of integrating all relevant issues related to biodiversity into broader development planning and economic activities. No longer will biodiversity be expected to be a side issue. This will be done by ensuring that biodiversity concerns will be mainstreamed throughout government and all sectors of society, through communication, education and awareness, appropriate incentive measures and institutional change. Biodiversity will therefore cease to be a marginalized issue for many countries.  To achieve this goal, throughout the decade, countries that are party to the CBD will be encouraged to develop, implement and communicate the results of time-bound national strategies for implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, including interim milestones and reporting mechanisms on progress achieved. There will be close monitoring of the implementation of the strategic plan. Biodiversity must be taken down from the global and national level to the individual level for the decade to be effective.

In order for you and I to mainstream biodiversity in our lives, we must know what biodiversity means as far as, not just the variety of species that exist but also the variety of ecosystems and services provided for the well being of humankind by these systems. You and I must understand how our actions affect biodiversity locally and how the loss of biodiversity can severely impact our lives. You and I must be aware of the actions that we must take to help conserve biodiversity.  You and I must grab hold of opportunities to get familiar with the natural resources that Saint Lucia is blessed with, to help us better appreciate Saint Lucia’s biodiversity.

To help us best meet your needs where the above questions are concerned, we would be grateful if you would send in your comments and questions on this article to the YO magazine. In subsequent editions, we will attempt to answer your questions to help you make you and Saint Lucia proud, to meet the objectives of the decade of biodiversity.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Kits for invasive species

Dear reader,

Some great resources have been created to help teach children about the problems caused by invasive species in Bugwood Blog. Also if you know about other resources please send them the information so they can share it with everyone.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Union Trail Interpretive Centre is reopen!

Dear all friends, visitors and students,

We have good news for you! The Union Trail Interpretive Centre is REOPEN.

You are very welcome to visit our Union Trail, Mini Zoo, Medicinal  Garden and Interpretive Centre just by a simple visit! In this centre you can learn many things about plant, wildlife, nature environment and others.

So come and visit us any day of the week from 8 to 4 if you wish!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

More! More! Migratory Birds

By Janice Mathurin-Poleon
Photos © Tseng Chiu-wen Hank

In the last century almost a hundred migratory species have been recorded on this island therefore they represent the majority of our avian diversity. They are seen around home gardens, shorelines or water treatment ponds.  Many of these birds are either fully protected or partially protected under the Wildlife Protection Act (1980) and by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).

Common name: Snowy Egret
Scientific name: Egretta thula brewsteri
Snowy Egret can be found in North America. It is common in the breeding season and occurs in the wetlands at Vigie, Cul de Sac and Vieux Fort.

 Common name: Blue-winged Teal
Scientific name: Anas discors
 They are normally present from October to April, and are seen in the fresh water swamps of Cul de Sac, Grand Anse and Vieux Fort.
 Common name: Lesser Yellowlegs
Scientific name: Tringa flavipes
Local name: Pied Jaune
Their best sites are the Aupicon Pond, Savannes Bay and the end of the airport in Vieux fort, Beausejour Sewage Pond, and Bois D’orange wetlands in Castries.
 Common name: Semipalmated Plover
Scientific name: Charadrius semipalmatus
Local name: Becasse a collier

They are often seen in flocks on the tidal flats of Vieux Fort, Grand Anse and the Gros Islet area.

 Common name: Red-billed Tropicbird
Scientific name: Phaethon aethereus
Local name: Trios woo

They can be seen around sea cliffs at Moule-a-chique and Maria Islands in the south end of the island during the breeding season, November to May.

For Your Information!!
IUCN-International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is the best-known worldwide conservation status listing and ranking system and was founded in 1963.

Aim: to convey the urgency of conservation issues to the public and policy makers, as well as help the international community to try to reduce species extinction.

Conservation Status by risk of extinction.
  • Extinct
  • Extinct in the Wild
  • Critically Endangered
  • Endangered
  • Vulnerable
  • Near Threatened
  • Least Concern

Meet More of our Visiting Friends - Migratory Birds

By Janice Mathurin-Poleon
Photos© Tseng Chiu-wen Hank and Jo Ann Mackenzie

As migratory birds make their journey from North America, through the Caribbean to South America they are faced with many threats on this perilous journey. It is estimated that more than 60 percent of some bird species never complete a full roundtrip migration, often due to threats such as:

  • Inadequate food and subsequent starvation
  • Collisions with windows, buildings and wind farms along migration routes
  • Stopover habitat loss from ongoing development or pollution
  • Predators, including wild animals, feral cats and loose dogs
  • Poor weather and storms that cause injury or disorientation
  • Light pollution in cities that disorients birds navigating by stars
  • Hunting, both legally regulated hunting as well as poaching
Migration is a dangerous but necessary journey for many birds. Fortunately, they are well equipped to survive the task.

Bird migration is a fascinating and inspiring phenomenon. In ancient Greece the bird of Athena represented the renewal of life. A dove, with an olive branch in its beak, returned to Noah's ark to announce the end of the deadly flood. To this day the dove has remained a symbol of peace and hope.

During the era of the Pharaohs in Egypt, the falcon had protective powers and was linked to royalty. For the Native Americans birds had different meanings, but always positive and linked to the concepts of unity, freedom, community, safe return, love and celebration of life. These birds have long affected the culture and thinking of many civilizations.

Common name: Great Egret
Scientific name: Ardea alba egretta
The Great Egret can be seen in wetlands at Vieux Fort and Cul de Sac.

Common name: Greater Yellowlegs
Scientific name: Tringa flavipes
Local name: Pied long
Pied long may be found in Vieux Fort, Cul de Sac and Bois D’orange wetlands.

 Common name: Barn Swallow
Scientific name: Hirundo rustica
Local name: Hirondelle Roux

The Barn Swallow can be seen on the island from September to October, and April to May. Habitat along the south coast over open areas such as fields and swamps, or perched on utility wires.

Common name: Blackpoll Warbler
Scientific name: Dendroica striata
Blackpoll Warbler is an uncommon migrant that occurs on the island during the months of October and November. Habitat includes mangroves, scrub forests, open areas with scattered trees and mixed woodlands.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Janice Mathurin-Poleon

Hey folks, for the past few weeks we have been sharing information with you the public on our endemic birds such as the St.Lucia Oriole and St.Lucia Pewee as well as the endemic sub-species like Black-bird and Lesser Antillean Bullfinch.  This time around we will be educating you on Migratory Birds.

St. Lucia is visited by many birds between July and November on their long journey from as far as North America and travel through the Caribbean to winter in South America.  Those birds are referred to as migratory birds. They travel from the different poles in pursuit of food, suitable breeding sites and or to escape bad weather or other environmental conditions.

They are such amazing creatures to journey thousands of miles and not get lost. I wish I had such a great internal compass.

The Caribbean Islands including St. Lucia form important resting places where the birds can feed up before continuing their long journey south.  From January to April, those birds return home, although many tend to spend less time in the Caribbean during their journey some of the migratory birds remain in the Caribbean throughout the winter rather than going to South America.

Migratory birds are of great ecological and economic value to our country. They contribute to biological diversity and bring tremendous enjoyment to St. Lucians as well as tourists who study and watch them. They add an interesting and mysterious element to our wildlife since they are only here for part of the year.

Some of the breeding sites for the migrant birds in St. Lucia are Grande Anse Ponds, Esperance mangrove, Bois D’orange swamp, Auberge Seraphine swamp in the north, Praslin mangrove, Fregate Islands on the east and Maria Islands and Point Sable in the south.

Migratory birds should not be considered as a foreign element but as an indigenous part of our wildlife. Birds such as the masked duck (Nomonyx dominica), tricoloured heron (Egretta tricolour ruficollis) and many others visit our shores annually.

We hope you look forward to meeting more of our migratory friends in our successive articles!

Enjoy nature, go bird watching today!!

Rufous-throated Solitaire and Yellow Warbler Chit Chatting!!

Janice Mathurin-Poleon

Rufous-throated solitaire: Hey! You there yellow bird, what is your name?

Yellow warbler: Why do you want to know my name?

Rufous-throated solitaire: Because I’ve never seen you around here.

Yellow warbler: In that case then, I’m Yellow warbler. I am an endemic subspecies of many Caribbean islands; Bahamas, Cuba, Martinique, Dominica, St. Lucia and others. I am known scientifically as dendroica petechia babad a mouthful I know. Just call me sucrier mang as the locals do. It’s much easier.

Rufous-throated solitaire: Why are you here in the rainforest? Where do you live?

Yellow warbler: I got distracted and found myself here. My home is confined to mangroves such as Makote, Vieux Fort and coastal scrub forests areas like Praslin. I eat mainly insects although sometimes I’ll eat small berries too. I build a neat cup-shaped nest low down in a bush or low tree.

Rufous-throated solitaire: Are you male or female?

Yellow warbler: I am male. I am 11.5-13.5cm (4.5-5.25 in). As you can see I am mostly all yellow, including patches on my outer tail feathers. My upperparts are greenish-yellow though with reddish streaks at my breast and sides. My head is yellow but with this cool, distinct reddish-brown cap.
My wife is similar to me, but she has faintly reddish streaks below with no reddish brown crown. She lays 2-3 spotted, greenish-white eggs mainly between February and June. I have told you so much about me would you mind telling me about yourself?

Rufous-throated solitaire: I am Rufous-throated solitaire, endemic subspecies of St Vincent, Jamaica, Hispaniola, Dominica, Martinique but specifically the myadestes genibarbis sanctaelucia is unique only to St Lucia. Commonly I am known here as siffleur morne.

Yellow warbler: Hey, we’re found on some of the same islands! Is this all?

Rufous-throated solitaire: I grow to a length of 19cm (7.5in). I am mostly grey above, with white chin; reddish brown throat, neck and undertail coverts; light grey breast; yellow feet; and a tail with white outer feathers. I live in the dense mountain forest of Quillesse, Micoud and Edmund Forest Reserve, Soufriere. I build my nest cup-shaped in a crevice, center of a tree fern or bromeliad. My lady love lays two eggs, bluish-white or blue with white spots during the months April to August.

Yellow warbler: I bet you love living in this tranquil environment.  It is cool and private.

Rufous-throated solitaire: Yes I do. I feel quite at peace.  The mangrove sounds like a good place but as far as I have heard, people do not understand let alone appreciate the value of your habitat. Maybe we should educate these humans on the importance of protecting and conserving the mangroves of our island.
You know they think they know everything and they just keep destroying our environment but what they don’t know is that they are destroying themselves also.

Yellow warbler: It was sure nice meeting you. Hope to see you around some time if I get distracted. Have a pleasant day.

Pere Noir (male) et Maisson (female)

 I often wonder how many of us actually take note of our environment and the different species of animals and plants that are all around us.  We often see plants and animals but do not know them by their local name let alone their scientific name.  Let’s see how well we observe them by solving the common name of this bird.

The scientific name of this bird is Loxigilla noctis sclateri and is also one of the endemic subspecies of our island. The local name is Pere Noir for male and Maisson for female.  Can you guess the Common name?

This bird is seen everywhere, they fly in your homes and business places feeding on food scrapes.  The male is black with a reddish-brown patch to the chest area unlike the female that has dark olive-grey upperparts, some brown on the wings and grayish under parts. 

It builds a round nest with a side entrance in a bush or low tree.  It usually lays two or three spotted eggs during the months of February to August.  It feeds mainly on seeds but also thrives on buds and petals of flowers as well as fruits. Pere Noir has a sharp shrill or a sharp tseep-tseep as its call. 

Have you guessed what bird I have just described or do you want to solve this simple puzzle to find out the common name?

Solve:  The numbers provided corresponds to the letters in the alphabet.

              B   I     R   D
Example:  2 – 9 – 18 - 4  

 _    _  _   _ _   _        _  _   _  _  _   _  _  _  _       _  _    _   _ _  _  _  _ _
12 -5-19-19-5-18       1-14-20-9-12-12-5-1-14               2 -21-12-12-6-9-14-3-8

Say Hi to the Lesser Antillean Flycatcher (Myiarchus oberi sanctaeluciae) Pipirite Gros Tête

By: Nicole La Force (Forestry Department)

For the past weeks we have been writing about our endemic and sub-endemic birds. We hope that it has been an eye opener and that your appreciation for the beautiful birds found here is growing.

Birds serve many wonderful functions which enrich our ecosystems and our lives. Birds are great pollinators as well as seed dispersers ensuring the continuity of our plant species; not only locally but also regionally. Regional ecosystems develop diversity as this process continues. It can be seen as a mutual relationship, as well, because the migratory birds will help to build and maintain an area where they can feed and nest.

Birds also play a role in the predator/prey relationship in forest ecosystems. Though the majority of bird species eat only fruit, some eat insects and larger birds kill live prey to eat. These omnivorous and carnivorous species play an important role in maintaining healthy populations of small mammals and reptiles. In forest ecosystems that lack adequate bird populations, these smaller animals begin to overtake the area, causing disturbance in the food chain and overall ecosystem.

Today we are going to meet the Lesser Antillean Flycatcher or Pipirite Gros Tête as it is locally called. It is a beautiful bird which is a bit elusive. It grows to a length of 19–22cm (7.5–8.5 in) with mostly yellow underparts from the upper belly to the undertail coverts. The tail feathers have reddish inner webs. It has a loud voice with a mournful whistle peeu-wheeet and also a short whistles oo-ee, oo-ee, or e-oo-ee. Its head is relatively larger in proportion to its body hence the name Pipirite Gros Tête.

Locally it is found in the transition forest at medium elevation and in the rainforest in the interior of the Castries Water Works Reserve, Quilesse, Edmund Forest and Millet areas.

The breeding season is from March to July.  The nest is made of loose plant fibers, feathers and is built in a tree cavity, where the female lays 3 to 4 creamy buff eggs, heavily spotted and scrawled with purplish-brown and violet-grey. 
Flycatchers are agile fliers who catch their prey while flying. They feed extensively on true flies caterpillars, other winged insects and also beetles. These birds are premiere pest insect controllers.
So go out in nature and enjoy the beautiful birds and appreciate their wondrous song!!

Beauty Queens Scaly-breasted Thrasher & Carib Grackle.

By: Jeannette Victor & Khervelle Pamphile

It’s here once again the most anticipated show of the year; The National Bird Beauty Pageant. Come one come all, this show will be an exciting and extravagant one. Miss it and you miss out on all the excitement!!!!!!

Carib Grackle:  My girl, you eh see the poster for the Beauty Pageant yet?

Scaly- breasted Thrasher: What poster? What Beauty Pageant? What you talking about  deh girl?
Carib Grackle: The Annual Beauty Pageant that will be held next Saturday. You know, the show most people look forward to every year.

Scaly-breasted Thrasher: Oh!  You mean the show that full of excitement and various beauties put their all to capture the crown.

Carib Grackle: Yes pal, “that show”.  This year I want to take part so I will need some help to practice my intro, will you be kind enough to do so?

Scaly-breasted Thrasher : Hmmm, you are not the only one who wants that title. I’m entering too. So we work as a team and help each other with our weak areas.                                 
Carib Grackle: What a brilliant idea! If either of us wins we could bask in the ambience of winning and as friends celebrate together.

Scaly-breasted Thrasher: Well let’s not waste any more time. Let’s work on our intro You go first.

Carib Grackle:  Good evening distinguished guest, ladies and gentlemen of the Animal Kingdom, I am known scientifically as Quiscalus lugubris inflexirostris, locally as Blackbird or Carib Grackle or Merle.  I am quite handsome with my jet black feathers and a violet, green or steel-blue gloss. To compliment my appearance I have a yellowish-white iris and a long V shaped tail. My chaperon who is also my companion is smaller and dark- grey overall.  I must say that I cherish her for she lays three to four greenish-blue eggs with black scrawls in our home, a bulky structure made of grass, plant fibers and leaves with a deep central cup that sits on a tree.  We thrive on insects and could be seen almost everywhere in St. Lucia.  Thanks for coming out to support me and will be sure not to disappoint you my fans.

Scaly-breasted ThrasherShort, sweet and straight to the point. Wonderfully said.  Let me see if I could do    better .  Protocol established I will forge ahead.  Though I may be considered a shy individual I will wow you the audience this evening.  Margarops     fuscus     schwartzi is the name those scientists refer to me as but  you know me as Scaly-breasted Thrasher and your elders as Grieve. I belong to the Thrasher family which consists of three of us. My under-part is white and heavily   scaled  with grayish-brown from my Throat to my belly. I have one white wing-bar, yellow-brown eye and a   Black bill with white tail tips. I live comfortably in a rough cup-shape nest built in a tree in which my wife lays two or three greenish-  blue eggs. I may not have the looks but I sure have the talent to walk away with this Crown tonight.  So sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
Carib Grackle:  Looks like the competition will be tight so I am off to put some finishing touches on my costume and evening wear.  Good luck and see you after the pageant.

Scaly-breasted Thrasher:  Thanks. Good luck to you too and may the best bird win!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Gabriel “Coco” Charles - St. Lucia’s First Chief Forest Officer

Nicole La Force

On a week like this in August of 1993 St. Lucia lost one of its conservation pioneers, in the person of Gabriel Charles affectionately called “Coco” Charles. It was the 31st of August, mid morning in 1993 at the Desruisseaux junction when Coco Charles’ vehicle overturned on the side of the road. Cause of death as it was later revealed, was a heart attach. And at 58 a son of the soil who impacted greatly the protection and conservation of our flora and fauna, was gone.
Many young people today may have no idea who Coco Charles was and I as a new forester have come to appreciate the work he has done and have enjoyed the various anecdotes that those who worked with him shared and in some ways I envy them.

He was an inspiring character who in many respects was a ‘community activist’ for the cause of sustainable development, though the term was hardly known or used back then. He preached about the potential negative effects of poor land management practices, a situation that unfortunately characterizes much of our development today. One of his principle concerns was the need to ensure sustainable livelihoods of grassroots people and local communities through education and active participation. As a result he became involved in many community environmental programmes and inspired the formation of many local environmental groups and their leadership.

Coco Charles was instrumental in the passing of many of today’s laws and legislation which now serves to protect our flora and fauna, one of which enabled the protection of and the naming of the Amazona versicolor “Jacquot” as St. Lucia’s national bird in 1980, a year after St. Lucia gained independence. He along with Paul Butler led the national campaign which restored the bird from the brink of extinction.

Regionally Coco Charles was considered an iconic figure that elevated the status of forestry to a more embracing profession of environmental conservation and management.

During his life, Gabriel Coco Charles received the prestigious Fred Packard Award and was named a Member of the British Empire and was nominated to the United Nation’s Global 500 list of people who have made an outstanding contribution in the field of conservation. He received this in 1988 alongside the world famous Jacques Cousteau and upon his death was RARE Center’s Assistant Director for Conservation Education.

For his zeal and passion with regards to environmental protection and sustainability he should always be remembered. He has left a great legacy on which we as foresters, environmentalists and citizens of this fair Helen should build upon and emulate.