Norfolk Birders

Norfolk Birdwatching and beyond!

                                                                                                                                                                  St Lucia Trip Report                            by Sue Bryan

January 9th – January 16th 2020

Sue Bryan

John Geeson



I have never had a great yearning to visit the Caribbean but as John and I had enjoyed our short break in Mauritius last year, not as a birding holiday but as a way of a few days of sun away from a UK winter where we could swim or snorkel and generally relax, we considered an island once again and looked towards the Caribbean. However as birding is our main interest our binoculars would certainly get packed and so we decided to look for something on a similar set up as last year. We searched the internet and spotted a good deal that British Airways were offering to St. Lucia. Like Mauritius the bird list was low but as we have other birding trips planned for the year this did not particularly bother us as long as we saw the endemics available.


Guide (for one morning only) Canice Peterson tel +1 (758) 718-3278




9th January     Gatwick – St Lucia (Vieux Fort - Dennery – Bexon – Cul De Sac – Marigot Bay)


10th January    Marigot Bay – Union – Dennery – Mamiku Gardens


11th January    Millet


12th January     Marigot Bay – Anse La Raye – Sulphur Springs - Soufriere


13th January    Quilesse Reserve (Descartiers Trail) – Dennery- Cul De Sac


14th January     Pigeon Island – Cul De Sac


15th January    Praslin - Lumiere


16th January    Canaries – Soufriere – Aupicon- Gatwick



Flights and Accommodation


International flights to St Lucia on British Airways  including accommodation on a B and B basis cost £1109 each. We stayed at the Marigot Beach Club and Dive resort on the west coast of the island only accessible by a small ferry.




Car Hire booked through that Sixt provided for £468. An international driving licence bought at a post office for £5 is necessary along with a UK licence. Roads are good but very twisty with steep climbs. A larger size engine is recommended.


We had a B and B deal and made sure we had a little spare for a packed lunch. Evening meals were very expensive everywhere we went on this island that caters for rich, boat-owning Americans. We ate out in restaurants on 4 nights and self-catered in our room on 3 nights.




No visa required for UK citizens




We used an ATM machine at the airport for ECD Dollars but US$ were accepted at virtually all shops/restaurants/tourist attractions and market stalls that we visited. Credit cards were also accepted at shops, restaurants and garages.




St Lucia is in the tropics and so has a warm, tropical climate all year. The hurricane season is from June to November. We experienced a mixture of sun for most of the time with temperatures of 28 – 29 degrees but with frequent short (10 minutes) showers meaning that we carried an umbrella everywhere we went.




St Lucia is almost totally mountainous with very little flat land covered with tropical forests. Some land is cleared for banana crops.




Daily Log


9th January


After driving to Gatwick and staying in an airport hotel last night, John and I boarded a flight to St. Lucia in the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean Sea.  It was very warm and humid as we arrived at the airport on St. Lucia and we immediately ran into car hire problems once again as Sixt would not accept my international driving licence which I had gone to so much trouble to obtain as we had been warned that we would need one to drive on St. Lucia. Apparently I also needed my UK licence as well as the international one! Luckily John had his UK licence with him as well as his international one, which they were quite happy to accept. After much paperwork filling we were upgraded to a bigger car at no extra cost. Result!


European Collared Dove and Eared Dove were sitting by the car as we loaded up our cases into the car in the car park. As I had forgotten my phone car adapter we headed into Vieux Fort town where we watched two Magnificent Frigate birds flying above our heads by the coast road. John and I had both been ill for weeks and neither of us were on top form, meaning that instead of my usual efficiency I had forgotten a variety of essential items needed for our holiday.

Marigot Bay


En-route to the Marigot Beach and Dive Resort we drove along a very twisty but good surface road and saw Grey Kingbird, American Kestrel, Broad-winged Hawk, Western Cattle Egret and  Carib Grackle. Using Google maps which I had downloaded onto my phone before leaving home, we navigated our way to the inlet of Marigot Bay and after parking the car boarded a little ferry across to our cabin overlooking the bay. What a wonderful view we had as the sun set and the lights came on. We enjoyed our evening meal in the warmth of the evening by the sea.


10th January


John and I were up early and decided to see what we could find in the gardens of our accommodation, which was a spacious room half-way up the steep hillside with wonderful views across the bay from our balcony. We watched a Brown Pelican fly across the bay along with a hovering Osprey and a Royal Tern feeding. Lesser Antillean Bullfinches were common as were the St Lucia race of Bananaquit. In the bushes we watched a Lesser Antillean Saltator as well as Black-faced Grassquit. Zenaida Doves were also feeding on the grass. We were delighted to see Brown Boobies out at sea too as my last view had been one in Cornwall!




At breakfast we watched Carib Grackles and Lesser Antillean Bullfinches around our breakfast table down on the balcony by the sea. It was delightful to sit by the sea in the sun and heat.

                                          Lesser Antillean Bulfinch                                                                                                                              Carib Grackle

Tourist ship in Castries Harbour

John and I ventured out after breakfast and after crossing over the bay on the ferry drove north along the coast through Castries. Here there were several massive ships docked in the harbour. I have never seen such big cruise ships before! Thank goodness we were not staying in Castries!


We continued to the forest at Union where we were told that all the trails had been closed to visitors because of the new construction taking place. Not a good start! We went to the office to see the boss where he kindly arranged access and a guide (Canice Peterson) to another trail for us the following day. We birded in and around the visitor centre at the edge of the forest and saw Antillean Crested Hummingbirds, Tropical Mockingbird, Common Ground Dove and Zenaida Doves as well as Purple-throated Caribs.

                                         Purple-throated Carib

                                                               Zenaida Dove
As our time was much shorter at Union than we anticipated we drove onto Dennery where up one of the side tracks we watched Green-throated Carib, Black-faced Grassquit and Caribbean Eleania as well as adding Rock Dove to our list as a Broad-winged Hawk flew over us.

                                                     Broad-winged Hawk

Along the roadside telegraph wires Grey Kingbirds were common but we watched one here hawking for insects.

                                          Green-throated Carib

                                               Grey Kingbird

Black-faced Grassquit




We chanced upon Mamiku Gardens where I was in need of a cup of tea. This turned out to be a good stop as the botanical garden was full of birds. However although we had had a lot of sun with high temperatures, a feature of our holiday was to be many short, sharp showers which were a nuisance and we learnt to carry an umbrella with us wherever we went. We were merrily watching a tree full of Spectacled Thrush, Scaly-breasted Thrasher and Purple-throated Carib when another downpour had us running for cover. We just about reached the tearoom when the heavens opened. The pot of tea for two was delightful on the balcony as we watched an Antillean Crested Hummingbird constantly feeding on the flowers beneath us. It was a delightful spot as the rain soon stopped and the sun came out once again. We also added Snowy Egret to our list here as a bird surprised us lurking behind the trees.

                                          Antillean Crested Hummingbird
                                          Scaly-breasted Thrasher

We returned to the ferry and sailed across to our accommodation where a Pina Colada was most welcome on the decking by the sea!


11th January


After our discussions yesterday with the boss at the forestry headquarters at Union, we were up before breakfast and had requested an early morning ferry ride across Marigot Bay to meet up with our guide Canice (US$ 30 each) who was there to greet us as we disembarked on the other side of the bay.  We followed him in our car to The Millet Trail where after a bit of fun getting the gates unlocked with some assistance from a hammer, we walked up to a view point over-looking the forest. En-route we watched several St Lucia Black Finches on coconuts that had been set up as feeders.

                                   Canice and Sue

                                             St Lucia Black Finch

After a bit of a wait we watched two St Lucia Parrots fly across in front of us as well as watching another perched parrot some distance away. We walked back down and had brief views of a St Lucia Warbler before we started a quite strenuous steep forest trail where we walked up to another viewpoint where we saw more St Lucia Parrots flying across the valley. Considering the effort involved we saw very little, partly because it was necessary to watch where every footstep went on the steep gradient using our walking poles. We saw nothing on the descent until we were back on level ground where we saw Grey Trembler, Antillean Crested Hummingbird, more St Lucia Black Finches and a St Lucia Oriole near a few more coconut feeders. The forest was very dark making photography almost impossible. Near the end of the trail Canice and I watched a Pearly-eyed Thrasher on a coconut feeder.

                                                                    Grey Trembler
                                              Antillean Crested Hummingbird
Above our heads Canice pointed out a Boa Constrictor which was wound around a branch of a tree.

Boa Constrictor


We returned to our room for a picnic lunch where we stayed for the afternoon. John’s knee had taken quite a beating on the trail and I had started a migraine. We were both grateful for a lovely place to be for a restful afternoon and evening watching the boats come and go in the bay.

12th January

                                    Sue at Marigot Bay
                                          The ferry at Marigot Bay

Today was meant to be a non-birding day as I wanted to see the volcano at Sulphur Springs on the island and John wanted to visit The Pitons, a World Heritage Site. The Pitons are two mountainous volcanic plugs, that are quite spectacular to see. Gros Piton is 798.25 metres high, and Petit Piton is 743 metres high and are linked by the Piton Mitan ridge near Soufriere on the west coast of St Lucia. However, John and I were still up early and birded the resort grounds before breakfast where we found the St Lucia Pewee, a bird that we had failed to find yesterday. We were delighted as we were told it was a higher elevation bird.

                                                                 St Lucia Pewee

                                                       The Pitons
The hot bubbling mud of the collapsed crater of Qualibou volcano

After a lazy breakfast and noting a Red-billed Tropicbird at Anse la Raye as we stopped to admire the view, we drove onto Sulphur Springs, a volcano where you can drive right into the crater. En-route we stopped at a convenient point where we had good views of The Pitons. Once at Sulphur Springs we took a guided tour and watched the hot bubbling mud pools in the centre of the sulphur-smelling crater. As with most tourist spots it was crowded and we soon opted to walk to a quieter area. We left our guide and birded above the crater where we found a Black-whiskered Vireo in the heavily vegetated area on a pathway leading to a small hotel.


Another rain shower interrupted our birding and we returned to the car and drove down to Soufriere. The rain had stopped and the sun had reappeared. We treated ourselves to an ice-cream whist watching Magnificent Frigatebirds diving for offal from the fishermen in the harbour. A Laughing Gull here was also new for the trip.


                                                      Magnificent Frigatebird

                                            American Kestrel

It was now very hot and so we returned to our apartment where I enjoyed a swim in the sea after John spotted an American Kestrel perched by our room

13th January

Descartiers Trail Map


John was eager to do the Descartiers Trail in the Quilesse Reserve, a high elevation trail that was going to take us all day to get there and actually do. You are supposed to book ahead and pay the entry fee but we found two workers who took our money as we arrived. (25 ECD each) We knew it might take some time to get there up some small, twisty and steep lanes. I had managed to find it on my downloaded map on my phone but we also had some good directions from trip reports. I would advise anyone to download a map of St Lucia using Google maps before arriving on the island as signs do not exist on St Lucia and junctions often don’t have road markings, so it is not obvious which way the route you want goes. There are no maps of any trails at the reserves we visited and so maps from trip reports are vital. We followed the road for 6km after leaving the main road through the smart village of Ti Roche and found a small road on the right that cuts back sharply with a small sign to the reserve. After about 2km we turned left uphill. There is a sign but easy to miss. Shortly after we turned right along a track which deteriorated as we went along it. The reserve was at the end of the track. We encountered a few mosquitoes here but none that required any repellent. After parking up and paying our fee, we set off along the trail not realising there was a cross track by some steps. Luckily we had met Vision (a Guide) along the trail that we had spoken to at Birdfair and he told us where to go. We turned left at the steps and after about ½ mile found a fence where we could look out over the valley below.

Lesser Antillean Flycatcher


This area by the fence was one on the most productive areas that we birded as we had seen almost nothing on our route up. We watched St Lucia Oriole, , Lesser Antillean Flycatcher, Antillean Euponia, flight views of St Lucia Parrot, Purple-throated Carib, St Lucia Pewee, Grey Trembler, Pearly-eyed Thrasher, St Lucia Warbler, St Lucia Bullfinch and Bananaquit here over a period of an hour or so.  I also saw Scaly-naped Pigeon which unfortunately John missed.


We walked back and had a picnic lunch before stopping near Dennery on the roadside to watch Lesser Antillean Swifts as well as a Broad-winged Hawk perched.


At Cul De Sac we added Shiny Cowbird to our lists before stopping for the supermarket here for some food supplies.

                                                  St Lucia Parrots

                                               Antillean Euphonia

                                                        St Lucia Oriole
                                             Broad-winged Hawk

14th January

Pigeon Island


Today was planned to be another ‘non-birding’ day where we could do some swimming and hopefully some snorkelling. We set off and John drove to Pigeon Island where we parked in a large car park by the beach. The sea looked incredibly rough on one side of the promontory but calm on the other side.


We stopped on the rough side to watch some Brown Boobies on a small rock offshore before wandering along the calm side along the beach watching the Ruddy Turnstones, Royal Terns and Magnificent Frigatebirds as we went. By a few market cabins we watched Common Ground Doves, Shiny Cowbirds and Carib Grackles.

                                                     Brown Boobies
                                                Common Ground Dove

                                                      Shiny Cowbird
                                                    Ruddy Turnstone

Royal Tern


It was hot and we wandered over to a beach bar and ordered a Pina Colada for me and a beer for John. I asked how much we owed and it was explained that there was no charge as we had inadvertently wandered in to an ‘all exclusive’ resort. We had ‘bucked’ the system as we had come along the shoreline rather than through a gap in a wall where there were security guards. The barman was very pleasant to us as we enjoyed our free drinks that I offered to pay for, but a security guard with no sense of humour glowered over us. Our relaxing free drinks were supped up at a pace I would rather forget! Hey ho! Grins all round then!

We both enjoyed a lovely swim in the aquamarine blue sea with the sun beating down on us as we discussed our rather generous hosts giving me a rather huge slug of rum in my Pina Colada. It was a wonder that I was fit for anything!


On our way back we called into the Union Forest Reserve once more where we were invited to walk most of the trail as long as we returned the same way to avoid the area where the new construction was going to take place. Here was our best chance of Scaly-naped Pigeon which John still needed to see.  Luckily I managed to find one which John had flight views of but it took off from its perch before I could describe where it was sitting.  We saw another Grey Trembler but little else before the rain set in.

15th January

Marigot Bay Beach and Dive Resort


We had a day left and two target species (White-breasted Thrasher and the St Lucia sub-species of House Wren) to find. I contacted Vision and he suggested a location near Praslin Bay opposite where there is a half-built abandoned hotel. We walked down the road about 400 metres and found the gap that Vision had described on the opposite side of the road. We saw a pair of St Lucia Pewee flitting around as well as Green-throated Carib and Antillean Crested Hummingbird. A Black-whiskered Vireo gave us a heart-stopping moment before John identified it. A Scaly-breasted Thrasher put in an appearance before we decided to visit Mamiku Gardens once again where the thrasher had been reported.

                                                  St Lucia Warbler

Green Heron

We walked a trail that the owner of the garden recommended for the Thrasher and I managed a couple of record shots of a St Lucia Warbler. However dark conditions and too many thin tree trunks made photography difficult. After another pot of tea for two we left for a site near Lumiere. The track was impossible to drive, so we walked along it towards the beach where we saw a Green Heron and a Great Egret. Black-faced Grassquits and Shiny Cowbirds were common alongside the ditch. We failed miserably in our quest for either of our target species though and returned back to Marigot Bay for a lovely barbeque out on by the chefs at the resort.

16th January


Our last day had arrived but our flight was not until the evening so we thought we would explore the west side of the island. However it took us rather a long time to check out due to a mix-up in our bill and the ferry not running which had been taken out of service for maintenance. We had to call for help to trundle our suitcases to the other beach and catch another boat which had been called to take us across to the other side of the bay where our car was parked.


Once we had loaded our suitcases we headed once again for Soufriere stopping off to watch Magnificent Frigatebirds flying over various bays we encountered. At one estuary we watched Little Blue Heron, Great White Egret and a Green Heron. By late morning it was very hot and we sought an ice-cream at Soufriere. We were given the biggest bowl of Banana ice-cream I have ever seen. It took some effort to eat it all. We made our way to the Diamond Botanical Gardens where we walked up to the volcanic waterfall. John was in his element identifying plants for me. A Grey Trembler perched on a Ginger plant as a Green-throated Carib zipped around. Near the exit a Lesser Antillean Bullfinch posed for a photo but I only had my i-phone with me as my camera gear was all packed ready for our flight later on.

Magnificent Frigatebird


After lunch we drove to Aupicon near the airport where an exceptionally kind cafe owner at ‘Grill n Chill’ not only let us use his car park but supplied us with free alcoholic drinks too! We walked across to the lake where it was covered in Common Gallinule and Blue-winged Teal. A Great Blue Heron flew across at the back of the lake as well as a few Snowy Egret and another Little Blue Heron. We also saw a few Caribbean Coot.

All too soon in the heat of the day we returned our car to the airport and caught our evening flight back to Gatwick.

Diamond Waterfall at Soufriere
                                                          Aupicon Marsh

As a postscript I have to say that St Lucia is one of the most friendliest places that I have ever visited. The people (with the exceptionof the security guard at the Sandals Resort at Pigeon Island) went out of their way to help us and offered us so much kindness as we made our way around the island.



Species List


  1. Blue-winged Teal  Spatula discors 16/01/2020    Aupicon
  2. Red-billed Tropicbird   Phaethon aethereus 12/01/2020 Anse La Raye
  3. Green Heron     Butorides virescens 09/01/2020              Bexon
  4. Western Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis 09/01/2020  Cul De Sac
  5. Great Blue Heron  Ardea Herodias 16/01/2020  Aupicon
  6. Great Egret  Ardea alba 14/01/2020       Cul De Sac
  7. Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea 16/01/2020   Canaries
  8. Snowy Egret  Egretta thula 10/01/2020  Mamiku Gardens
  9. Brown Pelican   Pelecanus occidentalis   10/01/2020 Marigot Bay
  10. Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens       09/01/2020        Vieux Fort
  11. Brown Booby    Sula leucogaster 10/01/2020      Marigot Bay
  12. Western Osprey  Pandion haliaetus 10/01/2020              Marigot Bay
  13. Broad-winged Hawk  Buteo platypterus 09/01/2020 Vieux Fort
  14. Common Gallinule  Gallinula galeata 16/01/2020 Aupicon
  15. American Coot Fulica Americana 16/01/2020 Aupicon
  16. Ruddy Turnstone  Arenaria interpres 14/01/2020 Pigeon Island
  17. Laughing Gull  Leucophaeus atricilla 12/01/2020              Soufriere
  18. Royal Tern Thalasseus maximus              10/01/2020 Marigot Bay
  19. Rock Dove  Columba livia 10/01/2020 Dennery
  20. Scaly-naped Pigeon  Patagioenas squamosa 13/01/2020              Descartiers Trail Quilesse
  21. Eurasian Collared Dove               Streptopelia decaocto   09/01/2020 Vieux Fort
  22. Common Ground Dove               Columbina passerine 10/01/2020 Union
  23. Eared Dove  Zenaida auriculata 09/01/2020 Vieux Fort
  24. Zenaida Dove    Zenaida aurita   10/01/2020 Marigot Bay
  25. Lesser Antillean Swift     Chaetura martinica 13/01/2020 Dennery
  26. Purple-throated Carib   Eulampis jugularis 10/01/2020  Union
  27. Green-throated Carib    Eulampis holosericeus 10/01/2020 Dennery
  28. Antillean Crested Hummingbird               Orthorhyncus cristatus              10/01/2020        Union
  29. American Kestrel   Falco sparverius 09/01/2020 Dennery
  30. St. Lucia (Amazon) Parrot  Amazona versicolor  11/01/2020 Millet
  31. Caribbean Elaenia  Elaenia martinica 10/01/2020 Dennery
  32. St Lucia (Lesser Antillean) Pewee             Contopus latirostris 12/01/2020              Marigot Bay
  33. Grey Kingbird    Tyrannus dominicensis 09/01/2020 Dennery
  34. Lesser Antillean Flycatcher  Myiarchus oberi 13/01/2020              Descartiers Trail Quilesse
  35. Black-whiskered Vireo   Vireo altiloquus              12/01/2020 Sulphur Springs
  36. Tropical Mockingbird  Mimus gilvus 10/01/2020              Union
  37. Scaly-breasted Thrasher  Allenia fusca 10/01/2020 Mamiku Gardens
  38. Pearly-eyed Thrasher  Margarops fuscatus 11/01/2020  Millet
  39. Grey Trembler Cinclocerthia gutturalis 11/01/2020 Millet
  40. Spectacled Thrush   Turdus nudigenis 10/01/2020 Mamiku Gardens
  41. Antillean Euphonia  Euphonia musica 13/01/2020 Descartiers Trail Quilesse
  42. St. Lucia Oriole  Icterus laudabilis 11/01/2020     Millet
  43. Shiny Cowbird   Molothrus bonariensis  13/01/2020        Cul De Sac
  44. Carib Grackle  Quiscalus lugubris 09/01/2020 Cul De Sac
  45. St. Lucia Warbler  Setophaga delicate  11/01/2020 Millet
  46. Lesser Antillean Saltator  Saltator albicollis 10/01/2020 Marigot Bay
  47. Bananaquit  Coereba flaveola    10/01/2020 Marigot Bay
  48. Black-faced Grassquit    Tiaris bicolor 10/01/2020 Marigot Bay
  49. Lesser Antillean Bullfinch  Loxigilla noctis 10/01/2020 Marigot Bay
  50. St. Lucia Black Finch Melanospiza richardsoni  11/01/2020 Millet




  1. Small Asian Mongoose Herpestes javanicus