Discovering the Frigate Bird Sanctuary
Follow the boundary between the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean 40 kilometres north from St. John’s, Antigua you reach Antigua’s sister island of Barbuda, a flat, green jewel with a population of just 1.000 and no more than a handful of tourists at any given time. After disembarking and enjoying a swim on famed 17-Mile Beach, you’re invited to turn inland across the sand strip, narrow enough to throw a conch shell over to the edge of massive Codrington Lagoon. Barbuda’s Codrington Lagoon National Park, a short boat ride from the longest unbroken beach in the West Indies, is home to one of the world’s largest magnificent frigate bird colonies, a true wildlife spectacle hidden in what seems like an unlikely place. This is not the island you expected.
The frigate bird and vacationers are both drawn to island of Barbuda by the beautiful weather, including the low humidity, steady trade winds, and pleasant temperatures. This beautiful tropical island, known for its pink-sand beaches and sunny days, is haven for beachcombers and the graceful bird known as Fregata magnificens.
Along with time spent exploring the Frigate Bird Sanctuary Barbuda, you can easily enjoy an intimate stay at Barbuda Belle Luxury Beach Hotel. The Barbuda Belle Hotel opened on the 1st of June 2015 and consists of 6 luxurious beachfront bungalows and a clubhouse. This eco luxury escape, heavenly located on a deserted 17 mile pink sand beach, is one of a kind in the Caribbean. The hotel is situated on the northern side of the island of Barbuda, just a short minute plane ride from its sister island Antigua and the International Airport. The Barbuda Belle Hotel is built in wood and is entirely sustainable preserving as much as possible Barbuda’s natural beauty and wildlife. There are 5 one-bedroom bungalows and 1 two-bedroom bungalow ideal for families. All of the bungalows are positioned on the beach facing the sea offering spectacular panoramas of the bay on one side and the mangroves on the next. Each bungalow has its own private balcony with an outdoor living, dining area and shower. The Mangrove restaurant is located on the first floor of the Clubhouse where breakfast, lunch and dinner are served. Their French Chef offers a gourmet a la carte menu; ingredients are sourced locally ensuring fabulous fresh fish and seafood. The hotel is solar powered combining comfortable luxury and environmental sustainability.
When you add birdwatching to your Barbuda vacations, you’ll be rewarded for your time and effort. The beautiful and majestic frigate bird is easy to spot, especially on the northwestern lagoons, home to the bird sanctuary on Barbuda. The large birds are hard to miss, with their wide wingspan, jet-black feathers and distinctive red throat on the male. During courtship time in the fall, the male can inflate this ruby throat patch to attract the attention of the ladies. Chicks usually hatch from their nests in the mangrove trees before the first of the year. The frigate bird, which also congregates on on the Galapagos Islands, looks nothing like the little sparrows that appear at your backyard feeders, they’ve been nicknamed the man o’ war bird owing to their resemblance to warships and propensity to steal dinner from other birds.
Even though the Frigate Bird Sanctuary is named after one particular species of bird, it’s actually home to nearly 200 different feathered friends. One of the largest bird sanctuaries anywhere is a fascinating place to explore. Even if birdwatching isn’t one of your favorite activities, the chance to soak in the scenery, warm breezes and amazing slice of nature is worth some time on your vacation. Along the way, you’ll have the chance to see a whole array of feathered friends, including cormorants, egrets, whistling ducks and Barbuda warblers.
Birdwatching and hiking are fast becoming one of the more popular things to do on the island. While a network of trails is just now being established, the bird sanctuary on Barbuda is one of the first places people look for an exhilarating workout or a leisurely stroll. The pink- and white-sand beaches are the best place to walk through the birds’ home base. The best place to look for frigate birds is up in the skies. The combination of their wingspan, light weight and constant winds means that the birds spend most of their time soaring well above the ground. You’ll be in for quite a show at the Frigate Bird Sanctuary Barbuda as the birds dip below the horizon, fly in circles and steal their supper from other birds in flight.
Whether you’re doing some outdoor dining or spending time on the beach, chances are good you’ll spot some of the endangered birds that are thriving on this small Caribbean island. If you’re able, keep your cameras ready; the pictures will look quite amazing once your back home among the sparrows, robins and other familiar birds.