|DECR monitors Migratory Birds in TCI|
|Written by DECR|
|Wednesday, 09 November 2011 14:19|
The Turks and Caicos Islands’ location at the end of the Bahamas Archipelago and close to the Greater Antilles makes the islands popular wintering grounds and travel stopovers for birds that migrate seasonally between temperate regions of North America, and the American Tropics.
Many birds breed in the spring and summer in North America when insects and fruit are plentiful to feed young. They escape the winter cold and associated shortages of food by flying south.
While a few birds journey straight over water to their wintering grounds, the majority of birds from eastern North America “island hop” from Florida, through the Bahamas and Cuba, TCI, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, then on down the chain of the Lesser Antilles into South America. They retrace their migration in early spring, returning northward. Each island stop is necessary to the birds to provide food and rest during their journeys.
The Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR) has been collecting data on just how important our natural habitats are to migratory birds. In partnership with the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds (SCSCB) since 2010, bird monitoring has been carried out year-round, including migratory seasons.
This migratory season — fall 2011 — has been especially well-monitored. On Saturday, Oct. 15, DECR led a migratory bird monitoring day, which documented birds at important sites on Providenciales, including the Wheeland Ponds, Sand pits, and Provo Golf Course.
On Oct. 18, migratory bird monitoring was also carried out on Middle and North Caicos, where this year, massive flocks of seed-eating songbirds called bobolinks (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) have appeared, descending by the hundreds on patches of guinea-grass and shepherd’s needle, eating the seeds to fuel their journey onward. Other migrants spotted have included blue-winged teal (Anas, discors, a species of duck), ruddy ducks Oxyura jamaicensis, American coots Fulica americana, and snowy egrets Egretta thula.
Throughout October, DECR led (and will continue to lead) primary and high school students and teachers on bird watching trips, which include training on how to use binoculars, spotting scopes, field guides, and species identification cards. The DECR also provided colouring books (supplied by SCSCB) featuring birds they may see in their field adventures while bird watching. Much of this educational work was made possible through the training and equipment grant by SCSCB to DECR over the last year.
The data generated while DECR conducts these activities is sent back to SCSCB, which will process it along with similar regional data. When combined, this gives us a good idea of which birds are moving through which areas when. This is especially important because many of these birds are under pressure in part of their range, either by habitat destruction or other danger.
The sport-shooting of two radio-tagged whimbrels (large wading birds similar to a sandpipers), which survived hurricanes during their migrations from their summer homes in Arctic Canada, underline this importance. Both birds were shot in Guadeloupe, where sport hunting remains common.
In TCI, where all birds are protected by law, they do not have to be fearful of humans and indeed many tolerate bird watchers quite well. Moreover, birds provide an excellent method of sustainable, low-impact income and employment — such as bird watching guides — to local communities, making them far more valuable when alive. As long as the TCI remains an alluring place for winter visitors — both feathered and human — this sort of ecotourism can continue to grow.
DECR is proud to support and encourage anyone in TCI to take up bird watching as a hobby or career to promote sustainable development and ecotourism. The Amanyara Resort and Provo Gulf Club have signified support to the bird monitoring activities of the DECR by recording any sightings in their respective premises. The Science and Environmental Club of the Raymond Gardiner High School in North Caicos have included wetland and bird monitoring as one of their activities.
Photo: Great egret (Eric F. Salamanca/DECR)
Latest Local News
Tourist Board expands adding two new staff members
The Turks and Caicos Tourist Board announced this week it welcomed two new staff members to further More...
Cruise terminal to open April 8
Beginning Monday, April 8, thousands of cruise ship passengers will again begin to enjoy the More...
2013 TCI Elecrotal List Available
TCI 2013 Electors’ Register is Ready! Supervisor of Elections Mr. Dudley Lewis has announced More...
Misick Declared By-Election Winner
Supervisor of Elections Dudley Lewis has advised that the Progressive National Party's (PNP) Amanda More...
New Board leads TCHTA
On Wednesday, March 13, Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association (TCHTA) bid farewell to its More...
TCI Protected Areas Series
The fp is publishing a series of articles on the Turks and Caicos Islands Protected Area System to increase public awareness and respect for the beauty and value of this "beautiful by nature" country.
The authors, marine ecologist Marsha Pardee and terrestrial ecologist Kathleen Wood, are long-time TCI residents and respected scientists in their fields.
Below are links to their articles, plus related news articles, documents and laws.
- 29/7/10: Chalk Sound National Park: Beauty and ecology
- 22/7/10: Protected Areas designations and differences
- 15/7/10: Long-term prosperity vs. short-term gain
- 8/7/10: Protected Areas save environment, generate revenue
- 5/8/10: Frenchman’s Creek: Prime real estate of TCI wetlands
Related news articles
- 1/7/10: Expert report warned about encroachment on protected areas
- 8/7/10: More than 250 lots carved in Provo parks
Links to environmental documents and laws