March 11th, 2012


Fauna on Guana Island

In the early days of Guana Island (40's and 50's) the transportation up the hill where the buildings are was via donkey. Now there are a couple of donkeys kept fenced in. They seem friendly and wandered over to see us when we got near - probably looking for food. When we first went there they wandered around loose and occasionally showed up at the beach and nibbled peoples books that they left lying around. Our transportation up and down the hill is feet, but they do offer rides to anyone who wants them.

The owners are very committed to conservation and have re-introduced various plants and animals and cultivate them. In October they have Scientist's Month and enlist them in various projects - one of which is replanting elkhorn coral on the damaged reef. In 1986 they introduced a few almost-extinct Caribbean Rock Iguanas. They wander around loose and you occasionally see them close up. A few years one of the workers used to have a scheduled feeding of one of them at a set time in the morning. They eat fruit and flowers. They believe there are about 1,000 of them on the island now.

There is a cage with 4 tortoises near the owners house; I think they are hoping that they breed - there is one male and three females.

Many years ago there was a small herd of sheep. Now there are a few feral sheep on the island and we saw one close to the road when we were walking up. These sheep look a lot like goats.

Click here for some pictures of Iguanas, donkeys, a tortoise, a pseudo-dog, and a termite nest.


Birds and Bananas at Guana Island

There are a bunch of brown Boobies and many brown Pelicans. The Boobies often fly around in flocks, seemingly in a disorganized fashion and then suddenly many of them dive - they go fairly deep.

The water has lots of fry (sometimes so many that seeing fish while snorkeling is difficult) and they are good bird and fish bait.

Pelicans often look somewhat awkward when diving and they seem to turn around 180 degrees just before or just as they land. My various attempts to photograph this didn't work. Their dives are extremely shallow - their bodies never go under water. It is fun to watch them swallow when they come up - their pouches are very flexible. They often soar just about one to two feet above the water. They can take off pretty effortlessly although they sometimes bounce a couple of times when doing it. When flying a bit higher there is some nice greenish-blue reflection on their sometimes white undersides. Occasionally while snorkeling you almost get dive bombed. Needless to say I spent lots of time watching the Pelican show.

On the salt pond are 6 Caribbean roseate Flamingos. We were told that now three of them have clipped wings and were zoo rescues; the others flew there. On Anagada, a nearby island, there is a larger colony and they breed there. In earlier days there were 7 of them, recently it has been 6; I don't know if they are the same each year. (In full disclosure this picture is from 2009). They roam about in the very shallow water and stir up the mud so they leave a wake to mark their path. In the Museum ( a small shack) there was a description of an experiment of how they put some plastic flamingos there because flamingos only breed if there are a lot of them and they did observe them courting but apparently with no success.

We also saw a Scarlet Ibis. It was always over at the edge of the pond - sometimes unseen in the undergrowth. We were told that it had been imported to nearby Necker Island (owned by Richard Branson) and had flown over; he wants it back but I suspect a naval invasion is not likely.

There is a large orchard/garden at one end of the flat. If you show up when one of the gardeners is there you get a guided tour (although their chinese-english accents are a bit hard to understand). Bananas, coconuts, limes, breadfruit, papayas, other edibles, and many flowering plants are seen growing there. Each time we go it gets to be more extensive. Years ago the owner found a chinese gardener expert (Dr. Liao) who has been the resident gardener for many years although illness has brought him back to China - his trained apprentices have taken over. Reportedly Dr Liao has said that the climate where he comes from in China is very similar to the BVI.

Here are the birds and the bananas: