Monday, February 11, 2013

The Island of Barbuda

Yesterday we took a 1 1/2 catamaran ride to the Island of Barbuda, Antigua's sister island.  We hopped on the Excellence this time as it is a much faster vessel.  Barbuda is 161 square kilometers and has a total population of 1500, about the same as our village of Cambridge Bay.  The island is very under developed and they state that it will be like this for some time and it seems at times deserted.  Our main goal was to see the Frigatebird, both Antigua's and Barbuda's national bird.  When we arrived at Barbuda we crossed the sandy beach peninsula to the salt water marsh (as the locals called it) where 5 fishing boats were waiting for those who wanted to see these magnificent birds. 
Our driver was pleasant and accommodating as one of the passengers, an older gent from England lost his hat and the driver turned the boat around so that he could retrieve it.  He drove the boat so far and when he got to a certain spot he got off the boat, and pushed us closer to the colony.  Craig noticed that the water was filled with jellyfish and he asked our driver (sorry I didn't get his name) if they were stinging him and he said yes, they feel like a small electric shock. 
The closer we got to the colony the more excited everyone on our boat became, and who wouldn't as these birds have a wingspan of 6 feet and the colony has approx. 20,000 birds, more than the total human population of the island.  The 5 boats lined up and we didn't get too close to the nests as we were told that the birds could get too scared and their only egg could fall out.  The males are very attractive with blowing out their deep red chest to show off to the females.  One of the drivers told us about the birds while we sat in our seats on the fishing boats and much to every one's surprise these birds can live up to 25 years old. The females are the ones that pick their mate and once picked the male will gather branches to make the nest which the female will lay only one egg.  They do not mate for life and it's the male that will sit on the nest and look after the young while the female goes out to hunt.  They do not land on the water to catch fish as they can not take off flying from a flat surface so they skim the water to catch fish.  There were many young at this colony and the female will stay with her baby for 9 months where the male has flown the coop months ago. 
The entire excursion was about 45 minutes and when we arrived back at our boat there was a fine lunch ready for us to devourer. We stayed at this beach for approx. one hour after our tour of the frigate bird and from there we headed towards the pink sand beach.  This beach is covered with tiny pink shells that wash up from a nearby reef and the beach is covered with them.  The crew even offers you small plastic cups so that you take a bit of this paradise home with you.  We didn't stay long here as it was time to head back to Antigua and our resort.
This morning Sandy and I had our morning booked at the spa here at the resort and each of us received a deep cleansing facial and manicure.  I had the free bonus of a total leg, feet and arm massage while she was waiting for my mask to dry....Heaven!  From there Sandy and I took a walk around the resort and came across a wheel barrel full of freshly cut coconuts where we asked if we could have one.  The man was more than willing to cut one open for us to drink, but we thought it was missing a little something so we stopped at Monique's bar beside the beach for her to add a little vodka to it, now that's what I'm talkin' about!
We met our men and headed up to Mary's Outhouse for a late lunch of some fine ribs with salads and local beer.  We met some new cats there and shared our lunch with them.  At the outhouse there was a hummingbird just sitting on a branch and it allowed us to get close enough to take a picture or two.  I only had my Panasonic with me and was surprised how close I got to get a shot.  We will hopfully see Janet and Liz tonight before they leave back home.  We will miss these ladies as they are a fun bunch. 
Tomorrow Craig and I are hopping on some ATVs and are taking a three hour tour of the island, hope we end up like Gillian. haha  Sandy and Keith are heading over to Stingray City and we will all meet back here for lunch.  From there who knows...
Talk soon!
Green-throated Carib
 Our British friends that left yesterday, it's just not the same here without you all
 Liz, Craig and Janet - they will be flying back home tonight
 Our vessel for Barbuda
 Much more power than the last catarmaran
 That's Antigua in the background
 Beautiful Caribbean waters
 A resort on Barbuda
 The Frigatebird in flight
 The male showing off his colours
 The female with her plain white chest
 So many babies (white ones)
 You could say there were a few nests
 How cute is this baby?
 Our driver pushing us away from the colony, you can see them flying in the air
 Jelly fish
 More jelly fish
 White sand beaches
 Beautiful Island
 If you look closely you can see our boats waiting for us
 Old British fort at Pink Sand Beach
 I could live here
 The next couple pics are examples of the pink shells that are on the beach

 Heading back to the resort
 Someone got too much sun (it is probably a wind burn from the boat as he did have good sunscreen on)
Craig and Keith trying to get some tequilla from this agave plant...silly boys

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