In this video, a little egret in Breskens, the Netherlands.
The first colony of Little Egret Egretta garzetta in the New World, and its home, the last significant red and white mangrove swamp in Barbados, are at risk from deteriorating habitat quality and threatened development.
Marshlands within the Graeme Hall Swamp –a Ramsar wetland of international importance which holds the last significant mangrove woodland and largest lake in Barbados- were recently put up for sale for potential “environmentally appropriate commercial operations”.
Conservationists have expressed concern at the sale, and are urging priority be given to buyers with ecologically sound credentials and intentions; rather than sale for a “monoculture theme park” as some fear, that has little consideration for species conservation.
More than 85 bird species have been found at Graeme Hall Swamp, including Caribbean Coot Fulica caribaea, and the mangroves and environs of the swamp harbour the highest density of the endemic race of Yellow Warbler Dendroica petechia on Barbados. Three other Lesser Antilles endemic species occur (Antillean Crested Hummingbird, Green-throated Carib and Barbados Bullfinch). The permanent wetland is also critical habitat for migrant and vagrant waterbirds.
“The Graeme Hall Swamp and Chancery Lane Swamp Important Bird Areas [IBAs] are critical to the conservation of the Little Egret in the New World,” states the lead story in the new issue of Birds Caribbean, the newsletter produced by BirdLife International for the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds. “The Little Egret is an Old World species that naturally colonised the Western Hemisphere when it began nesting in Barbados in 1994. The population now numbers about 24 birds.” But in recent years, Birds Caribbean reports, the numbers found in annual Christmas Bird Counts have been declining.
AMAZONA (Association des Mateurs Amicaux des Z’Oiseaux et de la Nature aux Antilles) has published the Caribbean’s first national language Important Bird Area (IBA) directory. Les Zones Importantes pour la Conservation des Oiseaux en Guadeloupe represents the culmination of a collaborative effort by the island’s biologists and birders to gather all available knowledge about their birds, habitats and biodiversity to determine international priority sites for conservation: here.