Saint Martin Trip Report 3/2015

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Saint Martin FWI

March 1-8 2015 Trip Report:

Well we were able to move our late winter sun trip back to our place in the French West Indies from Honduras this year, where we took our Clothes off at Paya Bay for the past two years, one for my nude big year and one for sun. Club Orient is home, it really is, so it was good to be back on Orient Beach.

It seemed we knew almost everybody here and spent a lot of time doing the back-deck socializing crawl, drinking here, a glass of wine there, snacks over here, dinner there…..it is just the way things go. Silja spent some time painting our kitchen cupboards for a couple of days and despite some help from me…..I drilled a couple of holes, about as much as I can do without totally ruining the project, it looks nice. Surprised it doesn’t even have may handprint on it as that is what I do………kudos to the better half.

We spent the days on the beach, fed baquettes to the fish, got a lot of sun, watched the naked people stroll by, watched the Heineken regatta cruise by (we sold our sailboat down here last week so all we could do was watch sailing as it was too windy to go out ourselves even in a rented boat).  We watched more naked people, drank, danced, ate, drank some more, seawtched for birds, and one morning we even had champagne on the beach and watched sunrise

sunrise and I even saw a guy running holding a bench….I guess some sort of training, maybe he is in the wife carrying race and if wins gets his wife’s weight in beer? You sometimes see odd things at nude resorts………as everywhere I also birded.

Birding can be an adventure even in paradise.  You go sneaking into mangroves and you see stuff, odd stuff that isn’t always about birds.  This included a couple of guys doing the guy thing, who didn’t like the looks of my camera and scattered faster than the duck I was trying photograph; …cant they take it to a room?  WTF?  I stumbled upon a couple of local thugs who mugged a couple of French girls OR it was some elaborate ruse to rob me, I went and found a security guard as everyone vanished….but being solid 6-3, usually with a snarl look that says get the fuck out of my way, I’m biridng…so I don’t get bothered much, after a couple of dog and bear instances I learn to hold my binoculars like a weapon, they are guaranteed against breakage….I find there is good reason to bird at sunrise, the birds are out and the criminals are usually alseep

Oddly despite my previous adventures in birding on the island, I added numerous island species, first photographs for stuff found on the island, and explored new places and in some cases, and despite 40 trips to the island I found some really cool places. The Christmas winds came back and plagued us all week and so having a birding project afoot (trying to get info and photographs for a birding guide for the island, well, the French side or at least Club Orient) kept me out of trouble.

Beside Saline d’ Orient (the salt pond behind Club Orient) and Club Orient itself, and the airport ponds in Garnd Case, where I saw Flamingoes and Caribbean Coots back in January, which I didn’t refind….I found some really cool birding hotspots which I will explain fully in my birding guide I’m working on in the island. A couple of which even had blinds

Again I got some great shots of birds right outside my front door, but didn’t spend that much time shooting photographs around our place.

Antillean Crested Hummingbird

antillean crested 2b

Pearly Eyed Thrasher

pearly-eyed thrasher 2

off the beach for the first few days, numerous red-billed tropicbirds flew and fed out between Pinel and Green Cay

red-billed tropicbirdThis bird rarely comes close to shore but is identifiable with its long tail and white wings with black primaries.  This may be about as good a look as one gets

Behind Club Orient the shorebirds were scarce in the salt pond but I got a few good photos”

Greater yellow-legs

greater yellowlegs2b

Killdeer

killdeer

Whimbrel

whimbrel

Anse Marcel, is a nice little beach and resort area hidden in a secluded valley, it is about the best spot (only spot?) to find

white-winged doves

white winged dove

The area has more Zenaida Doves than I’ve ever seen in one area over a hundred

zenaida

Etang Chevrise This large salt pond on the road to BooBoo Jams from near the gas station was very productive, including my first Larus gull EVER on Saint Martin the second ebird post of a Lesser Black-backed gull, a 2nd cycle bird, the photo is sub par, but it is a rarity.

gull

Lucas Pond

there were photogenic white-cheeked pintails hiding in the small pond

white cheeked pintail bb

Happy Bay and Pond behind it was also a good place to bird and get some sun

Found some Canadians rock balancers had beat us here

rocks

Undoubtedly it was a  shrine to the naked beach goddess of Happy Beach, we paid our homage and then we looked for birds in the pond

Female Carib Grackle

carib grackle female

Brown Bobbies played off shore

brown booby 3ba

We spotted two seldom seen Yellow-crowned nightherons in the underbrush on the trail coming out of the pretty little beach

yellow crowned night heron

Next to cute cows we had to walk through, pet, and talk to, so that we could violate immigration questions

cowOf course that was a good place to find cattle egrets

cattle egret

Etang du Barriere in Cul-de-Sac

This is a spot I parked at once and didn’t know was there, a bit of low tide on a hot day, but a nice boardwalk

Least sandpipers

least sandpiper

There was a Brown Booby flying around the bay

brown booby 2

All in all, save the Lesser black-backed gull, I photographed no truly wonderful and rare birds, but I added a few shots for my project and the weather was a bit iffy but I got a good tan….I saw just under 50 species which is pretty good in non-migration, added six island lifers, common birds in some areas but good here .. so I cant complain, it was a good trip.  I had to finally get dressed and leave

brad

oddly that happens, I do get dressed!  Now I need to get back to ABA area, work, and research for upcoming birding.  My trip from the airport home included a coyote sighting and a snowy owl flew over my hood at 245 in the morning, not even home and already tallying birds

Olaf

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