Montserrat

Waiting for a boat. Its an odd concept perhaps given we went to some fairly extreme lengths to arrive here by boat. A nice sturdy one too. The problem is that Montserrat and in particular, the Soufriere Mountains to the South have had an unpleasant habit, since 1995, of exploding willy nilly. And actually we would be happy to chance a trip around the island in the old bird but for the pyroclastic flows (great word, lava effectively) which have eked out into the ocean below sea level and about which the Admiralty charts can never really be kept up to date. So with volcanic activity and in particular those pyroclastic flows (too good just to use once…!) preventing the entry of Lista into the entire southern section of the island we busied ourselves surveying the north from Lista and waited for the local folk to supply a more nimble low draught craft for the job.

smokin not prohibited

Our timing was dubious, short of sleep after 5 nights at Redonda’s whim we arrived into Montserrat in a 3m Northerly swell, the open side having lost the capital under ash, and the Harbour staff and Police were busy pulling their boats out because it was chewing up dinghies for breakfast against the barnacles on the harbour wall. But this was more from the fire into the frying pan, a slight improvement. To add to this roll, although unknown to us on arrival, it transpires Montserrat is the only place in the world which holds St Patrick’s Day as a National Holiday outside of Ireland. You even get a shamrock in your passport! And the festival village, the epi-center, was at Little Bay, our place. Peace and quiet were going to be hard fought.

In the meantime we surveyed from land and got to know Montserrat, her intriguing people, her winding spread out villages and her hills by bike, and she seemed to get to know us too! Everybody was rather impressed with Kath and Megan on the bikes grinding around the island doing publicity on radio, and the endless outreach to teach local kids. Many a time were they asked for a ride by the local chaps interrupted in their daily whereabouts by these two bird surveyors. Innocent I’m sure. After a very dry few weeks we did our best to integrate with the locals which appears to be drinking a lot and dancing til 4am in the festival village two days before the actual event had started – Emily leading festivities with some rather spirited pole dancing followed by a local chap doing the same in her pink wig. A happy night with blues to follow!

oh dear, some explaining in the morning?

The highlight of the trip without a doubt was the start of the St Patrick’s day celebrations and the Belly race. Up at 0430 to make the triathalonic feat of dinghy/bike/run to the start of the race we somehow contrived to miss the start, but not the finish. The road was littered with Caribbean booty making the freedom walk regardless of health, age or pie-eating status – a wonderful sight enjoyed by up to 300 locals. We collated with the field of “athletes” at the local stadium where fish and coconuts and music and green garb was abundant.

rocket fuel

The fact Montserrat shares its national holiday with the Irish has either something to do with the former Irish settlers who spent time here (and leave relicks in the language like (“I’d say” despite being present tense, or “at all, at all” appended to a sentence) after being persecuted as settlers in the US then St kitts, or more likely some canny work by the locals to coincide with their struggle for freedom with the worlds favourite ceremony. And perhaps getting some nice big floppy hats free from Diaggio. You can imagine the decision to rule out st georges was a challenging one…… Either way it should be said that the Monserratian is a welcoming people, sports a happy-go-lucky attitude, values strong family links (and genes?!) and Guinness is aflowing making the other “emerald isle” a convincing suitor for Eira.

the monserrat and the real deal

Back to the St Patrick’s day sports parade. After some salt-fish and baby coconut juice we mingled with the folk limbering up for the track events. It started in good sports day tradition with the younger children running their hearts out, perhaps two or three in the field, and a comedy commentator awarding the prizes (which seemed to all be a mixed crate of booze, very odd) to whoever he thought may have won. The races worked their way through the under 10s, under 18s, under 30s, under forties (for which sadly there was no field because Kath and I fancied ourselves in that one) up to the crescendo, the big one, the over forties, or “Belly Race”!!! Our announcer bellowed excitedly into the microphone “cmon laydees and gentlemon, dis is da big one, Da Belly Race, you gonna see a whole lotta belly comin doen the track here….. Stand back, me not sure they gonna be able to stopping at the end there….”

“You gonna feel the earth moooove, don worry, its not the volcano, is de Belly Race!!””

“Stand back, stand back, somebody be getting the Red Cross, ders gonna be some heart attacks coming down the track here .. . . .!!

And they did – the men, bellies and all lined up, giggling and hackling, including one wily gringo that must have fancied his chances against the field. The ringer, bookies favourite. Crack – off they went! But what’s this, the ringer cannot be seen behind the mighty flesh pounding down the track, they were fast, I would have been obliterated (though lets be clear, these are no endurance machines!!). Our friend Mark the BBC photographer was in position to get a photofinish of the thunder, and was very nearly wiped out by the cavalry unable to decelerate! The sight and sound of a small rustic sportsday stadium laughing and shrieking with these gladiators had to be experienced. The ladies race was even more competitive with some large units hurtling down the runway, one falling early on but no foul play was suspected, only gravity clutching at some fairly hefty straws.

pyroclastic... !

Too much to keep going, Kath and I took to the bikes into some of the hillside deemed at risk of volcanic activity according to some old signs but we needed to see what habitat existed to the South. We found rolling hillside, small scale agriculture and lovely old ladies sitting on flower shrouded porchways, admiring their creations. Montserrat had a welcoming feel the whole time we were there, slightly mad, but warm people. We passed a chap just, you know, admiring himself in one of those convex road mirrors, another Guianan accountant who looked like anything but, who erupted into a shriek of laughter at the end of every sentence (His kin make up 25% of the population here). Many more too. But they have a saying here, it is the only place in the world where a white lady in a car at night, upon meeting a black man with a machete would simply stop to give him a lift. There is NO crime. Nothing! We tried it, left a bag out near the festival village, accidentally, and returned the next day, nobody had taken it or touched it in any way. And the fact the people, the 5000 out of the 12000 that lived pre-volcano, have had to move their town and homes against a force majeure rather than human foe seems to make them slightly nonchalant, practical about it all without too much sorrow. Mad as a box of frogs, but the best people in the Caribbean so far!

morris dancing meets riverdance in the caribbean?

The festival itself was cozy but had all the appearances of turning incomprehensibly boozy that we beat a retreat fancying that with the locals preoccupied this would be the only chance of solitude on the famous rendezvous beach. Kath and I jumped into the dingy and popped over there, carrying a small village of clobber to set up camp for the night. It was the first night spent off the boat since Morocco last year. It was a beautiful night made even more special because at around 2130 both Kath and I heard a distinct sound, a devilish cackle not recorded here for 40 years, the Audubon Shearwater. At first we couldn’t believe it, but again it cried, seeking its mate in her burrow in the cliffs, this nocturnal seabird. We needed more proof to this unrecorded visitor -the next day we returned with the sound gear and Megan to verify it all – and on the first playing we were bombarded close to the dingy by a male Audubon Shearwater – like Redonda it was magical to be getting good data which repaid our efforts in a tricky environment. Actually this was the highlight of the visit, better than the bellies!

Plymouth under ash

Scriber and Jim our guides

To conclude, our boat did arrive, we toured the perimeter of the colossal flows and empty grey ashy towns and we got the counts we needed, filled out the quadrupulate forms required to leave and packed up our landing craft. We sailed out to Antigua away from a very bizarre place, Territory of the UK, multicultural, explosive, quirky and open. We had shared the island with some very funny folk indeed:

The best head mistress on the planet, a true mother hen,
The backgammon boys at Carrs Bay, playing for a ten,
The goat hunters from Trinidad screeching off in their carina,
The Belly racers and crowd in a crowded ampitheatre,
The customs lady and her “free” form and handy weather forecast, funny
(she looked wistful then peered out the window – “I tink it’ll be sunny”),
The librarian and her fully serviced office for a week,
The veg man and his christophine which resembles a puckered bottom cheek,
The Little bay bar and the selfservice barman,
The sumptuous tartan clad ladies on the annual walk/run
The finest, most elusive restaurant avec loo with a view,
only open every other Sunday from 10-2,
The hills for providing quenching coconuts and hellish heart rates,
and the shore for your shearwater and his curious nocturnal dates,
And to the man with the mirror, I hope you’ve found what you were looking for…..

Volcano, just thinking .....

Redonda

Redonda, the Kingdom of Redonda, to give it its full and noble title is a very large clod of igneous rock providing a vista for several of the surrounding Caribbean islands, Montserrat, Antigua, Nevis etc, but rarely visited by locals save for her fishing grounds, nor yachtsmen without a slightly masochistic streak. Or a need to count seabirds. Think St Kilda except less fun to land on, but I suppose less of the Scottish gales we miss.

Approaching Redonda

Katharine, Megan and I had been looking forward to this abandoned rock since the start, and fortunately after some pretty gusty wind on Nevis the wind settled in the North East and allowed us to sail down to Redonda. The anchorage is dubious, tucked into the south west there used to be a pier for unloading the mined guano and phosphates, and a post office (formerly with two token staff counting buttons or some such, the minimum infrastructure required to hold the island as a territory for Antigua). There is no evidence of either now as boulders cascade down from the 600′ cliffs immediately behind, well into the sea. The pilot guide recommends anchoring in settle weather only as close to the shore as possible, and only for a lunch stop in settled weather. 3m swell working its way from the North East makes 100yds from the shore feel very close!! we squirmed about trying to find the mythical plateau to drop our hook into but ended up chucking it onto a patch of sand about 15m deep and hoping to set away from the cliff with the waves smashing next to us. Then in peculiarly British fashion and following years of watching dad we threw Lista into reverse and put down the hammer whilst intently trying to find a sight line to prove we had dug in. Grand. Our French kin folk seem to adopt a strategy of flicking off the anchor with a nonchalant “boff” and then lighting as gauloise and going down below to fix a glass of Chateauneuf de Pape well before the anchor has scratched the surface of the water, never mind loop a nice bit of coral for them. “Chapeau”. Even with 70m of chain and an additional 50m on a stern anchor to hold us away should the wind change attached to another 40m of braid rope it wasn’t exactly stress free anchoring! 5 nights we stayed, 2 nights of sleep.

Nestled next to the boulder field

The first full day was too rough to land anywhere safely so Katharine and Megan completed aerial counts all day every hour as I fidgeted attempting to appear calm about our position next to the colossal cliffs. Aerial counts are brilliant and most practical for some species like the Tropic birds where the method allows us to assume a nest for a breeding pair by their very presence near a land form (if they are not breeding they are far out to sea, i.e. pelagic) if a count of actual nest is unfeasible, but there’s nothing like walking the land for Frigates and Boobies. Now then, behave class. We inverted some power from a very busy Wind Turbine and Kath and Megan spent the evening entering their data.

kath analysing some stuff

Day two Megan Katharine and I prospected for a little bay to land the dinghy, eventually finding a boulder beach on the south end to storm with a big splash and drag manoeuvre. Emily stayed aboard Lista Light with one finger on the engine start button. With 50m of climbing rope, rat traps, VHF, binoculars and water we traversed the boulders and made a slow ascent up the 60 degree crevice (ghaut is the local word) of unconsolidated scree and dust. Mountain goats roam here and are pretty nimble. a dead one quarter of the way up proved that even the best-in-class can get it wrong in loose rocks. not rock climbing but not far off!

megan really loved the ascent . . .

 . . . . And descent

At the top there is a plateau scattered with mining artefacts from back in the day, and lots and lots of lizards (endemic, rare ones apparently). Redonda was a dream come true and we got data never recorded before on nesting of frigates, much bigger counts on tropicbirds and masked boobies as well as a good number of red footed boobies. Basically a real beacon of hope and a feeling we are really doing some pioneering work. Without human pressure, goats and rats amount to the only introduced threats which limit the possibilities of Redonda but plans are already in discussion to eradicate – anyone got an air rifle and a few sausage butties and I’m your man.

rat-catcher???

We also are starting to get a look into the ecology and behaviour of the birds (something the schedule of our work would never allow proper scientific study of), we know a Brown Booby is likely to take flight at our presence and we must take extra care, a Masked Booby will sit tight under the most intrusive interruption, maternal instinct, or just as likely paternal as they share the parental chores, coursing through the brain above the desire to take flight. And we know a Red-Footed Booby will happily share a scrubby tree with Magnificent Frigate birds, despite their thieving (kleptoparasitic to use the correct term) tendencies. I digress, Redonda is about the wildlife so enough chat, just images.

Magnificent Frigate Birds heading off to sea

Red Footed Boobies in one of thier many morphs

Red Footed Booby chick

Masked Booby Chick

We swam ashore on the next day with Emily this time as the boat wasn’t looking like wandering off in the reduced swell. It wasn’t an entirely brilliant plan but with the exception of a couple of bumps and bruises we got there ok. The “dry” bags were making slightly aspiration claims. We split into pairs and divided the island north and south, and completed a 100% count in a long day. Peregrine Falcons scoped above us, Kestrels watched on and our subjects seemed slightly bemused with our presence. The goats evaded my rocks at the last minute as always. “God loves a trier” as they say. Lista sat patiently in the bay below. Montserrat had a clear top and chuffed away on her volcano. We perched on cliff edges and counted the crap out of everything.

Easy terrain . . . Not

Kath counting

It’s a privilege to have landed to do this research, I hope not too many people do (old meanies) because this place, if left undisturbed, will provide a much needed helping hand to the birds to nest and folk will see the product of that all over the seas in the Caribbean and thousands of miles beyond. Plus the “anchorage” is grim and you won’t sleep much. And you’ll break your dinghy trying to land it. And get eaten by rats if you do get there. And disable yourself trying to clamber up. And. And. And .. .. ..

Adult and Juve Masked Boobies

St Kitts and Nevis

Around St Kitts

We sailed down the coast of St Kitts scouring the coastline for likely seabird habitat and birds. It did not appear particularly promising; nevertheless, Dave and I took off on the bikes for a round island seabird reconnoitre.

The bikes have become a vital part of the trip- our loyal iron steeds transporting us around countries and islands, to shops, boat suppliers or providing us with a getaway from the deep blue. On arrival into a new harbour they are wrenched from Lista’s stomach, deep in the engine room, with seats and tyres reassembled before straining disembarkation onto the harbour-side. Or, more likely, we grapple to drop them into the dinghy and paddle furiously to a beach, (with Dave screeching instructions as to the best strategy) desperately trying to stay afloat, whilst riding a wave onto the sand.

Porto

To date the squeaking duo have pedalled us through the arid lands of Morocco, passed tagines brewing at the roadside to the snowy heights of the Atlas Mountains; along the ancient, tiled streets of Porto and for countless forays in foreign ports for sundry frippery from: foam, to loo seats, to soil (for our herb garden)to paint, books, marine ply….. We have jousted with long timber poles down the pavements (reclaimed from a D.I.Y. job that was abandoned by a recycling unit, a great stroke of luck) and hurtled along dual carriage ways with gas bottles trundling in the trailer.

On the way to the Atlas

The trailer is the ‘piece de la resistance’. The faithful number was purchased for our honeymoon to transport Bluberry (Mum’s black Labrador) up and down the Devon lanes in leisurely style to Exmoor, our enchanted destination. (Blueberry, let me explain, is no canine ‘Pre-Madonna’, it’s just her enthusiasm for runs leads her to hurl herself at ferocious speeds after us, culminating in ‘pad burn out’- hence the carriage).

But, perhaps the greatest feet of the trailer on the trip so far has been the Portuguese food haul in Cascais. With a loyal audience of trolley minder, Dave and I began pushing tonnes of spaghetti, juice, tinned tomatoes, rice etc. into pannier bags, wrack bags, rucksacks, shoulder bags and finally trailer. Much to the delight of the grinning trolley minder, Dave finished the job with a bucket on his head in a final contortionist’s flourish.

Landy, 'green' crossing the railway

So in accustomed style, the bikes led us off to the wonders of St Kitts, via the railway as the best vantage point for the windward coast. The round island escapade did not reveal breeding seabirds, but there were Magnificent Frigate Birds soaring the coastline, Brown Pelicans, lazily flapping along deserted beaches and Brown Boobies skimming the waves. The bikes attracted the customary attention which has ranged from grins and laughter at the mad whitey couple ascending some tortuous hill, to chiding pleas for lifts or simply rambling chat. Road kill is always interesting – this time we found mongooses (a disaster- introduced threat that munches through seabird eggs and chicks). Rats (another introduced disaster) and goats (third disaster- they graze out nesting habitat and trample eggs).

Thankfully, roadkill Mongoose

We also found an old man wondering the railway in welly boots searching for bee hives and monkeys. He was the first rural character we had met in the Caribbean, for many it seems that the new lights of the towns are superior to the old country ways. The hives were of course for honey, the monkeys for experiments. (Monkeys are another mammalian pest, introduced to some Lesser Antilles islands, adding a new predatory and unwanted tier into the islands’ ecosystem).We played him the Audubon’s Shearwater calls in case he should recognise them, but apparently not.

We abandoned the bikes in sugar cane and dived down a sandy track to the coast. We found a deserted beach with luscious vegetation tumbling over sandy cliffs as far as the eye could see. Again, no signs of breeding seabirds, save a solitary Brown Pelican languidly flapping and scrutinising the waves.

High forested mountains stretched up into the clouds in the centre of the island, with seemingly limitless Audubon’s Shearwater nesting potential. We did not have time to survey its recesses on this trip, no doubt predators would be doing their work of banishing the burrow nesting birds anyway. We did play the call to other islanders but no one recalled the once widespread Shearwater of the Lesser Antilles.

Baseterre, the Capital

Megan and I ‘scored’ on outreach, ‘winning’ a school presentation, radio slot and chats with some really helpful local birders, Percival Hanley and Mikey Ryan, within a couple of hours of landing. Along with information gathered from papers and the library, the most likely spots for breeding seabirds appeared to be south on Booby Island and the St Kitt’s peninsular. Meanwhile, we chatted about the project to ‘ZIZ the Pulse’ before flying to the school. Only to find that we had been doubled booked by an aggravated lady who was presenting on ‘stress control’, hmm! Finally, a class of teenagers studying science and geography were unearthed and we followed the sluggish steps of the teacher to their room. The projector had been snatched by the stressed, stress reliever, so Megan and I taught the class in the traditional way, with posters, chalk and black board. No matter what we said, however, the winners were always the ‘Boobies’. As soon as we mentioned a ‘Booby’ the whole class collapsed into sniggers and giggles, leaving Megan and I desperately searching for alternative birds. Oh the delights of common bird names from Tits, to ‘Cock’ Sparrows, to Brown Boobies.

Radio

Local School

We sailed south and found a beautiful bay with a roost of sixty odd Magnificent Frigate Birds along with turtles and shoals of rainbow fish. Megan and I took off in the kayaks, while Davo finished building a new rope locker box and Emily partook in a smattering of sun bathing. We found Brown Boobies, more Frigates and Brown Pelicans, but no nests. The beaches were white, endless, backed by mangroves and dreamy. We munched on some peanut butter sandwiches, before finding a lagoon fringed by a necklace of rotting fish. We couldn’t comprehend why? Pollution or drying out with associated lack of oxygen? Frigates circled above, but appeared uninterested in the bounty. We did not have the kit to take water samples, so regretfully left. As we paddled back to the boat, a huge green turtle snorted air in front of the kayak. Suddenly, he saw us and splashed his flippers in a fluster down to his watery recesses

Sailing South

A secluded bay

We were all pinning our hopes on Booby Island. Megan and I had viewed it from a distance in the kayak but could not get a proper look, so we bundled off in Lista, found some sand to anchor her and chucked the kayak over board. We bashed through the waves but all we could see was rock and prickly vegetation. Very disappointing, but perhaps terns which return to breed in April, will be nesting when we return next year?

The Magnificent Frigate Bird Roost

Next stop was Nevis, we headed north and circumnavigated the rotund island before docking in Charlestown. Nothing much to report- we couldn’t find breeding seabirds, but we did find great people and a journalist keen to write about our project. One guy ranted continuously about Barracuda and how he would eat no other fish. The only hitch being their susceptibility to ciguatera- a bio-accumulation of toxins that builds up in predatory reef fish. On some islands it is illegal to sell Barracuda for that reason, but the man pertained that as long as flies go near it or the cat (without any unfortunate outcomes) all would be well.

View to Nevis

Dave ran off into the hills, finding some rural revelry amongst the verdant vegetation and abandoned sugar cane mills. Megan, Emily and I tapped upon our laptops – a rather unhealthy pre-occupation that devours our time. It does allow us to work on the hoof, which is great, but the spectacle of lines of people buried in a cyber world in a bar smacks of our incompetence at real interaction. A pair of Zeniada Doves were far more attuned with interaction, cooing sweet nothings to one another in their flimsy nest atop of a light. The sound of the Zenaida’s woops will, I am sure, always conjure the Caribbean for us. They are ever present and beautiful, with their flicks of iridescent plumage, their throats inflating as they belt out their amour to the world.

We were invited to a St Patrick’s Day hash – a crazy, howling run amid ‘on, on’s’ and ‘hash, hash’, following flour trails through the hills, starting and ending with a healthy pint. Much as this would have appealed to us, the infamous Redonda beckoned as our next stepping stone on our seabird quest down the Antilles chain……

Zenaida Doves

St Eustatia

Anchorage at Orangie Bay

We didn’t think Saba could be matched for beauty, wilderness, wildlife…. then along came Statia, hitting us with laughter and friendliness and revealing hidden valleys and lush rainforest. No sooner had we bombed the Marine Park offices, then Lee Mudson (Marine Manager) threw open the office doors, library, internet, marine park boat…. to speed us along on our surveys (hospitality matched by no other island) while Hannah Madden (National Park Ranger) and the rest of the team prepared to march us to hidden jewels and co-ordinate media for us.

Marine Park Notice Board & Lesser Antilles Iguana

The Stenapa Staff

And a close up of the beauty..

Megan and I sped off on bikes after our quarry, Red-billed Tropic Birds and began searching for nests on the windswept spectacle of Zeelandia beach, quickly finding Tropics sticking out like raisons amid the layers of shale cliff. So the days were filled scaling the cliffs counting Tropic Birds and watching their repeated, failed attempts to alight upon their nests. (This would happen time and time again, the white, rapid, ‘rowing” flapping birds would emerge as a white dot from the ocean haze. They would come into land again and again before a final bungled landing would have them splayed across a boulder, where they would precede pulling themselves along on their belly- their tiny black legs being ill adapted to land dwelling).

Tropic Bird 'Pastry'.

Zeelandia Bay

Next the boat, with Lee and Gadget manoeuvring us around coral reefs and crashing waves as we searched for seabirds on Statia’s cliffs and beaches. Red-billed Tropic Birds were the spectacle, with their screeches resounding around the cliffs as they wheeled through the air. A flock of Magnificent Frigate Birds loafed in a ravine, Brown Pelicans and Brown Boobies perched onto cliff ledges or plunged for fish, but only the Tropics were hell bent on breeding. We were getting a feel for Tropic Bird life- with their daily routine of fishing and alighting back to the nest. Accordingly, we did another water-based survey checking out parts of the island that we had not been able to reach during the ‘witching’ hour, 1530 and 1700. And so we discovered Tropic Bird paradise- tens of birds looping and squawking over the cliffs.

Lee, Gadget and Me.

Lee, Gadget and Megan

Statia felt more ‘real’ than picture perfect Saba, with its dilapidated housing areas and a more mixed population. Unfortunately, both islands had their rubbish tips; Saba’s sprawled down a gulley and was guarded by a hundred eerie cat eyes, Statia’s slumped into beautiful Zeelandia beach in a tumble of water bottles and packaging, a reminder of humankind’s excess and our love-affair with plastic, packaging and inability to re-use, recycle or just stop buying in the first place.

Plastic Bottles on Zeelandia Beach

Together we walked up Gilboa Hill with Hannah pointing out orchids, edible fruits, lizards and butterflies to us. She has been working on the island for over three years and has been compiling a diary of terrestrial plants and fauna (http://web.me.com/hannah.madden/Site/Welcome.html). Dave and I returned late one night to Gilboa Hill after eyeing potential Audubon’s Shearwater nesting habitat, but after blasting the male and female duet across the hills for half and hour, we padded back down the rocky track, the night void of any answering calls. Crickets, cicadas and bats clicked and buzzed in compensation and finally fire flies lit our way, dancing and fizzing through the scrub.

Seed pods on Gilboa Hill

Spider Web on Gilboa Hill

Lizard, Gilboa Hill

Megan had reached the tender age of 24 (I do sound like an old crock) and we we thought is about time we had a dance… So we met in bar, found a few bevies and our dancing moves… Next morning, somewhat bedraggled, we scaled the Quill, the fabled dormant volcano with a rainforest growing within. Round and round the slope we went, accompanied by Hermit Crabs marching their laborious ascent of amour in quest of mates and peppered with Mahogany stands atop huge buttress routes straining for the sun. The view was incredible- we looked out over tree tops worthy of tarzan with lianas swinging into the distance,

Dancing on Statia

Dave, me and Megan

View from the Quill

Hermit Crab Marching up the Quill

Hermit Crab Again

Megan and I made our final sortie for Red-bill Tropics, whilst Dave sloped off with ropes and climbing gear to check out potential nesting habitat. We all met up on the beach for surfing and battered our way through the waves in a washing machine spin, finally leaving the waves as the sun went down.

Red-bill Tropic adult and chick

From Gilboa Head: Hannah, Emily, Megan and Melissa

Presentation to the STENAPA staff & vols

Daily Data Entry

The daily data entry aboard Lista, a view to our next destination throught the tree tops of the Quill, St Kitts and a final image of the chief character in the preceedings- a Red-billed Tropic Bird. Photographed by Hannah Madden, this time a sub-adult, without the flashy tail.

Hannah Madden's RBTR