|Amazing bird-watching in the Provo outback|
|Written by Kathleen Wood and Marsha Pardee|
|Thursday, 09 September 2010 12:40|
TCI Protected Areas
In the United States — the Turks and Caicos Islands’ primary tourism market — more than 50 million people claim to be birdwatchers.
Bird watching, or “birding,” is an environmentally sustainable activity that is a $25 billion/year industry in North America (Birdlife International Statistics).
As a country that boasts several internationally important bird areas, the TCI has the potential to become a prime bird watching ecotourism destination. Guided tours, kayaking adventures, automobile rentals, and sales of supplies and equipment like binoculars and field guides are just a few of the business opportunities that abound for creative entrepreneurs.
The best aspect of the birding industry is it requires no development. In fact, bird watching is best where people have left nature alone.
The vast, unspoiled terrestrial and wetland areas of the TCI are exceptional birding habitats where birds share similar histories with people. Some are snowbirds, who make the islands their home only during the winter months. The myriad wetland and shoreline habitats that meander throughout the island of Providenciales are the best place to catch a glimpse of winter visitors.
The Northwest Point Pond, and Pigeon Pond and Frenchman’s Creek Nature Reserves are outstanding venues for migrant sandpipers and plovers including but not limited to black-bellied plovers, lesser golden plover, semipalmated plover, spotted sandpiper, greater and lesser yellowlegs, dunlin and common snipe. The internationally vulnerable piping plover is rumored to stopover in these areas during the spring and fall migrations.
The undeveloped land areas of Providenciales are also a wonderful place to commune with birds during the winter months. The vast expanse of land areas encompassed within the Pigeon Pond and Frenchman’s Creek Nature Reserve and Chalk Sound National Park coupled with the vast frontier of the Northwest Point land areas serve as unfragmented refuge for an impressive variety of migrant perching birds, and the avid birdwatcher is certain to add a few names to their list in these areas. Northern parula, black and white warbler, Cape May warbler, American redstart and yellow-throated vireo are just a few of the numerous small perching birds that have been recorded.
The summer months see their own round of avian visitors on Providenciales. The white-tailed tropicbird nests in seaside cliffs such as those found along deserted shorelines at Long Bay Hills and West Harbor Bluff. Early in May, the voyeuristic birdwatcher can catch a glimpse of the aerial acrobatic mating behavior of these beautiful birds. Antillean nighthawk, gray kingbird, black-whiskered vireo and a number of terns are also TCI summer visitors.
In addition to seasonal visitors, TCI boasts a number of local specialties that are year-round residents. The Cuban crow is known only to the TCI and Cuba and is a common visitor to hotel and residential gardens where local fruit trees provide an opportunity for poaching by these voracious birds.
The Bahama woodstar hummingbird, endemic to the Bahamas and TCI is also a common visitor to local gardens, where it is attracted to brightly colored, nectar producing flowers. Other interesting local specialties include a local variant thick-billed vireo, western spindalis and pearly-eyed thrasher.
Every season offers something new for birding enthusiasts on the island of Providenciales. Armed with nothing more than a pair of walking shoes and a pair of binoculars, anyone can take off on an unparalleled adventure.
Charles Lindbergh, the great American pilot, reportedly said shortly before his death in 1974, “I realized that if I had to choose, I would rather have birds than airplanes.”
While man’s aspirations for flight are constrained within the confines of awkward flying machines of various persuasions, we can still watch the birds and dream of unencumbered flight.
Click HERE to read other articles in the TCI Protected Areas series.
For more information on Protected Areas, visit www.environment.tc/Protected-Areas-Division.html
Terrestrial ecologist and Master Gardener Kathleen Wood, B.Sc., is a Permanent Resident of the TCI, dividing her time between the Turks and Caicos and North Carolina. She is the author of many publications including the book, “Flowers of the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands.” She has worked for the public and private sectors on many environmental projects in the Bahamas, TCI and U.S. Anyone interested in discussion on a broad range of environmental issues can follow Kathleen on her blog at www.killingmother.blogspot.com.
Marine ecologist Marsha Pardee, M.Sc., is a Permanent Resident of the TCI, living here for nearly 20 years. She is a member of the government’s Scientific Authority Committee and a consultant for environmental management and aquaculture projects, working for both public and private sectors. She has taught many of the country’s children in local schools and in the DECR’s Junior Park Warden Program on Providenciales.
|Last Updated on Monday, 27 September 2010 13:48|
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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