Did Santa Bring You An Amazon.com Gift Certificate?

Whether he did or didn’t, here’s a few cool ideas to spend a gift certificate or just a credit card on.

TRAVEL ADAPTOR

I wish I had one of these in the Caribbean!

GADGET ORGANIZER

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT (LOL)!

Just to remind you that I do get a small commission if you use my Amazon.com link whether for the items above or anything you choose.  It helps pay the hosting charges and I do appreciate it!

A Quick Visit To Castries Market

After the birding tour, we had some time to spare so we asked to be the last ones dropped off so we could get a look around Castries while other people were dropped at their hotels.

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We got off at the market which was near closing time but still a few stalls open.  I knew what I wanted – anything with a St Lucia Parrot on it.dscn4109 dscn4111 dscn4112 dscn4113 dscn4115 dscn4116 dscn4117 dscn4119 dscn4121

Maybe someone is tired of shopping?dscn4123

In the taxi on the way to the airport.dscn4124 dscn4126 dscn4128 dscn4129 dscn4131

I love this airline’s logo!dscn4134

The islanders are proud of their native parrot, the St Lucia Parrot!dscn4132

New – Disqus Commenting Installed

Over the last year, I was getting overwhelmed by spam comments and very few legitimate ones.  With a major trip (Ecuador, Colombia, Caribbean & the USA) looming, I was messing around trying to stop the spam and ended up turning the whole comment system off.  I had intended to fix this after returning from the trip but then things happened in my personal life and I just never got around to it.  In the past, the spam just overwhelmed the legit commenters and I was exhausted.  This is just a hobby blog, I am not a full time professional blogger.

Anyway, in the New Year, I want to change that and want to make it easier for real commenters to post but still keep out spammers and decided to give Disqus a try.  I think their anti-spam blocking is better than anything I could come up with and I have seen this system used on many other blogs so it must be pretty good.  It doesn’t appear to work on older posts (unless I did something wrong) but anyway from this point forward, comment away!

Saint Lucia Oriole (Icterus laudabilis)

The Saint Lucia Oriole (Icterus laudabilis) is a species of bird, in the family Icteridae and genus Icterus (or American Orioles). It is endemic to Saint Lucia.

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Although they can be found anywhere on St Lucia, the only place I saw them (the pair pictured above) was on Des Cartiers Trail.

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LEARN MORE ABOUT ST LUCIA ORIOLES

Wikipedia

Birdlife

Neotropical Birds

VIDEO

Not sure why there aren’t more videos online, maybe they are hard to spot or people are more focused on their fellow endemic bird the St Lucia Parrot.  Their coloring is very striking and they are a treat to see!

Des Cartiers Trail – The Highlight Of Birding St Lucia

I have already blogged the main part of the birding trip but I think Des Cartiers Trail deserves a post of its own.

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This is a ranger station where you pay to enter the trail although this was included in our tour fee so Vision paid for the group.dscn4039 dscn4040

Good information at the ranger station and restrooms as well.dscn4041 dscn4042 dscn4043

Vision whistling at a bird to lure it closer.  The trail is uphill and challenging for the unfit (like me) but well maintained and relatively easydscn4044 dscn4045 dscn4047 dscn4048 dscn4051 dscn4058 dscn4063

We finally arrived at a small platform where we settled in to watch for St Lucia Parrots.dscn4066 dscn4068 dscn4070 dscn4074 dscn4075 dscn4076 dscn4077 dscn4078

We didn’t have to wait long, the St Lucia Parrots were swooping back and forth in the valley.  Getting a photo was a challenge as they were far away and hard to focus on.  Below you see my best attempts.  Others have been luckier and the parrots perched in the trees near the platform.

St. Lucia Parrot

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St. Lucia Oriole

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St. Lucia Parrot

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St. Lucia Oriole

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St. Lucia Parrot

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St. Lucia Oriole

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Purple-throated Carib

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Purple-throated Carib

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Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays To All

I wish everyone a happy and peaceful Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa and hope everyone is enjoying the holidays!

My personal tradition is collecting Christmas tree ornaments while traveling and sometimes I adapt key rings as ornaments.  These ornaments are a great way to remember our trips and the special birds we saw, also a great way to support the crafts people who make the ornaments!

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But no matter how many bird ornaments I buy, I have never had LIVE birds take up residence in my Christmas tree!

Saint Lucia Amazon Parrot (Amazona versicolor)

The Saint Lucia Amazon (Amazona versicolor) also known as the Saint Lucia Parrot is a species of parrot in the family Psittacidae. It is endemic to Saint Lucia and is the country’s national bird.

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I did my best to get photos of them as they flew by in pairs but it was hard to focus on them against the green background but at least I got the colours!img_7870a img_7860a img_7861a

This beautiful St Lucia endemic is most easily seen at Des Cartiers Trail in St Lucia.

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LEARN MORE ABOUT ST LUCIA PARROTS

Wikipedia

World Parrot Trust

Birdlife

Neotropical Birds

Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

VIDEOS

How lucky to get this close to one!

Conservation efforts to save the parrots.

Birding Day Trip Around St Lucia

Since we only had one full day in St Lucia, I had organized a birding day trip with our lodge, A Peace of Paradise.  The company is WIldLife Ambassadors and our guide was Vision, who was very knowledgeable about the island’s birds and managed to find most of the endemics for us.

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Our first stop was near Mamiku & Praslin where we saw several endemics.  The lighting was bad but I tried!  eBird Listdscn4029 dscn4030 img_7651 img_7662 img_7666 img_7681 img_7686 img_7693 img_7697 img_7705 img_7717 img_7723 img_7729 img_7771 img_7772 img_7774

Next stop was to be the highlight of the trip – Des Cartiers Trail and will be on a separate post.

The third stop was Eau Piquant Pond where we saw a number of waders and sea birds.

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The birds weren’t the only ones fishing!img_7945 img_7950 img_7953 dscn4089 dscn4090 dscn4091 dscn4093

We stopped here to buy sandwiches/takeaway for lunch.dscn4095

The final stop was on a hill top overlooking the sea.  At this point, the group went for a walk but it was so hot I decided to stay behind and relax a bit.dscn4097 dscn4098 dscn4100 img_7954 img_7956

We then drove back to Castries dropping off birders at their hotels along the way.  Since we were catching a plane to St Vincent, we asked Vision to drop us in town so we could do some shopping, then get a taxi to the airport.

Lodge Review: A Peace Of Paradise, St Lucia

A Peace of Paradise is a charming little B&B located on the eastern side of St Lucia in a tropical rainforest setting and very close to the prime birding spots.  If you aren’t planning to rent a car (you probably won’t need one), then it is best to have them pick you up on arrival at the airport as it is a bit tricky to find the first time.  It’s just past the Fox Grove Inn and up the hill a bit.

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The lodge is a beautiful house situated on a hill overlooking the rainforest with a beautiful verandah to relax and enjoy the view.dscn4022 dscn4014 dscn4013 dscn4012 dscn4011

The rooms are clean and cozy with windows on to the verandah.dscn4010 dscn4009 dscn4008

The one thing you need to be aware of is that the power points are different than the USA type which is more common in the Caribbean Islands.  If you don’t have one like that pictured below, ask the staff to loan you one so you can charge your camera and devices.dscn4021 dscn4016

We were only there one night and checked out early but they still left some bread, jam & juice in the fridge for our breakfast.  Birding trips start very early.dscn4015

A Peace of Paradise is a great place to stay if you aren’t into beaches and want a more relaxed Caribbean style experience.  The prices are very reasonable and they can organize your birding trips for you, also some nice hikes in the rainforest.  It’s one of the closest properties to Des Cartiers Trail where you can see St Lucia Parrots!  It is somewhat isolated from shops and restaurants (except for the neighboring hotel) so you may want to stick up on snacks and drinks before you check in.

British Airways 5th Freedom Flight Trinidad – St Lucia

If you are island hopping around the Caribbean for birding, you need to visit some of the smaller islands that aren’t quite so easy to get to with miles.  More about that later.  But if you need to go to both Trinidad & St Lucia, both birding hotspots you are in luck!  You can book a flight on British Airways for a mere 4500 Avios!  It’s a huge 777 with full service and business class if you want to spring for 9000 Avios.

I didn’t have enough Avios for business but I did get a quick look at the cabin as we passed through.

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Somehow I managed to snag the first row of economy (maybe an elite got upgraded) and the roominess was a real luxury which I appreciated for the 1 hour flight.dscn3997

Look at all that legroom!dscn4004

My “office”!dscn4005

The flight was spot on time and we soon landed at St Lucia’s larger Hewanorra (UVF) airport.  dscn4006