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A Report from

Monserrat, July 2005 ,

Chris Hill

Made a two week trip to Montserrat for two weeks in July, with and additional day spent in Antigua as access to Montserrat was only by ferry from the latter. The trip was not for birding but for University research purposes - however there was enough time to fit in some birding around it. On my time to the island I was based at the barracks at Geralds, in the north of the island. During my time in Montserrat the following species were seen:

1. Cattle Egret - common across the island
2. Gray Kingbird - common across the island and somewhat Shrike like as it caught insects from exposed perches
3. Zenaida Dove - common across the island
4. Scaly-Naped Pigeon - common across the island
5. Black Faced Grassquit - a pair were seen feeding unobtrusively on the ground at the barracks
6. Pearly Eyed Thrasher - common in the wood around Woodlands Bay
7. Common Ground Dove - a tiny dove seen intermittently at a number of spaces
8. Yellow Warbler - seen on a number of occassions as it darted between bushes
9. Caribbean Martin - fairly common at coastal sites where it was presumably breeding on the sea cliffs
10. Bananaquit - small numbers of this brightly coloured active bird were seen
11. Brown Pelican - fairly common at coastal sites
12. Magnificent Frigatebird - this large spectacular bird was commonly seen at all coastal locations
13. Brown Booby - small numbers were seen at Little Bay
14 Smooth Billed Ani - a party of three were seen on ther road to Lookout
15. American Kestrel - small numbers were seen perched on wires scouring for prey
16. Green Throated Carib - one seen in the garden of the Governors house
17. Yellow Crowned Night Heron - two seen - both at the coast.

No trips were made to the Centre Hils which occur in the middle of the island and are dotted with a number of easily accessible trails. The Hills contain the islands most two noteable birds - the endemic Montserrat Oriole and the Forest Thrush, both of which are endangered. The hils also contain a number of other species which were not seen including Purple Throated Carib, Brown Trembler, Scaly Breasted Thrasher and Mangrove Cuckoo.

 I would highly recommend a visit to Montserrat, especially as while I was there visiting the island became more accessible due to the opening of the airport. The people are friendly and the climate is warm but not too oppressive due to the constant breezes. It is also worth visiting the island to observe the active Soufiere Hills volcano. The one negative aspect of visiting the island is that there are only 2 hotels on the island.
The one day in Antigua was principally spent at the Beachcomber Hotel, not far from the airport.  Birds seen on this island which were not on Montserrat were:

1. Laughing Gull - common across the island
2. Carib Grackle - common in the grounds of the hotel and other grassy areas
3. Great White Egret - one was observed catching fish in the bay next to the hotel
4. Antillean Crested Hummingbird - one seen in the hotel gardens
5. Green Heron - one in the bay next ot the hotel
6. Royal Tern - two seen on the harbour wall next to the hotel beach
7. Lesser Antillean Bullfinch - one seen in the hotel restaurant feedng on scraps

Better views were also secured of the inquisitive Bananaquit as they buisily fed in the hotel ground garden.
Chris Hill, July 2005

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