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Thursday 29th June - Saturday 15th July 2006

Mark Beaman

The second Birdquest to the Lesser Antilles was even more successful than our first tour, and that is saying something. This time we managed to observe every single Lesser Antillean endemic, all 37 species if one takes a liberal approach to taxonomy, probably the first time that this has ever been achieved. Of course the endemics, while key, are not the only birds one sees in these pleasant green islands at the edge of the tropical Atlantic, so our highlights amongst the massive (!), 123-strong birdlist were far more diverse and included a flock of West Indian Whistling Ducks, smart White-cheeked Pintails, Caribbean Coot, Roseate and Bridled Terns, the remarkably obliging Bridled Quail-Doves, that unexpected Antillean Nighthawk on Barbuda, regular sightings of Black Swifts, the perky little Antillean Crested Hummingbirds, the stunning Red-legged Thrushes on Dominica and even, dare I say it, the cheeky little Bananaquits, including those weird melanistic ones! Amongst the many endemics, some stand out as being particularly memorable, including those secretive Grenada Doves, the four spectacular Amazona parrots (including the elusive Imperial), the rare Saint Lucia Nightjar, the stonking Blue-headed Hummingbird, the noisy quartet of wrens, the strangely obliging Forest Thrushes of Montserrat, the striking White-breasted Thrashers, the weird and wonderful tremblers, the endemic warblers (and in particular the charismatic Whistling Warbler of Saint Vincent), the very confiding Saint Lucia Black Finches, the elusive Martinique Orioles, and the last-minute dash for Barbados Bullfinch. And, of course, we should not forget the huge female Great Sperm Whale we came close to during our pelagic off Dominica, or the Pantropical Spotted Dolphins and the uncommon Cuvier’s Beaked Whales.