Monday, March 24, 2014

Goldilocks and the Frigate Birds

Frigate Bird Colony on Barbuda

March 20th.  Meet Goldilocks.  He was our local guide to the Frigate bird colony on Barbuda.
Goldilocks himself
Mike from vs Right Turn joined us for the day.  It was nice having an extra hand to help us drag the dinghy up the beach.  The surf washes up pretty high on this beach so we needed to be sure it was up high enough to keep it from washing back out to sea.  Then we walked the 100 ft over the sand dunes to the lagoon.
Channel markers off Tom's shoulder and bow of the boat

Yes, we were that close to land going FAST
Goldilocks picked us up right at 10am and we took off across the lagoon.  Some places were very, very shallow.  Local knowledge is a must.  There was one shallow pass where there were flats (land) on each less than 10ft off each side.  We (Tom, Mike and me) all braced a bit as our little skiff went screaming through that section at full speed - 15knots or so.
Goldilocks tossing dead branches to provoke an aerial fight

Bird taking the branch back to it's mate.....if it makes it....the other birds have other ideas
Once inside the mangroves, Goldilocks stopped to break off some dead mangrove branches.  He used these to show us how the Frigate birds fight to take branches and food away from each other.  He was very knowledgeable telling all about the birds.
So many birds
At one point he shut off the engine because it was too shallow and then he just used a long pole to take us along the edge of the mangroves.
chicks, nests and adults mixed everywhere
We were able to get quite close to the nesting birds.  Hundreds of birds filled the sky and hundreds more sat in the branches of the mangroves.  Maybe even thousands as this is one of the largest in the world.
Chick and then two non-attached males - puffed out and looking for love
We saw chicks, teenagers and adults - male and female.  The males with  the bright red pouches puffed out under their head have not yet found a mate for the season.  The male birds with deflated pouches have already been chosen by a female.  There is a joke or two in there about never mind.....  The males travel great distances.

The water near the frigate colony was full of thousands of jelly fish of all sizes.  Goldilocks said they were harmless and showed us by scooping one up.  Tom scooped several up.  They were not pretty like some jellyfish but really rather ugly and gross.
Jelly fish - thousands

small, weird, ugly jelly fish

It was all very interesting.  If you go, we would recommend Goldilocks.  You can reach him by calling on VHF radio to the Coco Point Hotel and telling them you want to book Goldilocks.  Or he has a cell - 722-54-74.  His VHF broke.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, how cool! We've seen many an adult frigatebird, but never chicks nor males with their puffed-out chests. Nice photos!