Saturday’s Festival Welcomed Back Birds, Habitats, and People

Grand Case, St. Martin—People of all ages flocked to Friar’s Bay to celebrate St. Martin’s nature and enjoy fun activities at Les Fruits de Mer’s 2017 Migratory Bird Festival, which was held this past Saturday at Kali’s Beach Bar.

The festival’s 2017 theme was “Welcome back!” to the island’s migratory birds and habitats that are recovering from the hurricane. The event also welcomed people back to the natural beauty of Friar’s Bay, and brought some to the French side of the island for the first time since Irma.

“It was a gorgeous day, and there was fantastic birdwatching on the pond! People were able to see migratory species like Greater Yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpipers and Blue-winged Teal ducks, and year-round resident species like Snowy Egrets and Caribbean Coots,” said Les Fruits de Mer co-founder Mark Yokoyama.

Photo: Kids and adults painted handmade calabash bird feeders to take home. Photo by Jonaliza Matinguha)

Professional birding guide Binkie van Es helped event-goers discover local birds at the festival’s birdwatching station. Adults and kids also learned how to use binoculars and wildlife-spotting scopes to get up-close views of the birds.

The event’s calabash bird feeder craft was also a big hit. Festival guests painted their own feeders to take home with free birdseed to help provide food for birds while habitats continue to recover.

Photo: Event-goers learned how to spot birds at the Birdwatching Station. (Photo by Mark Yokoyama)

The Portable Pond Discovery Station drew a constant crowd as well, showcasing the tiny creatures that migratory birds come to the island to eat. Visitors young and old were surprised to learn how many flying insects, like dragonflies, begin their life in the water.

Event-goers found out how native trees and plants protect shorelines, and provide habitat for birds, from EPIC volunteers at the Restoration Station. Volunteers from Anguilla National Trust came over for the day to assist and share their knowledge about birds and nature. A team of youth volunteers from the Rotary Interact Club of St. Dominic High School also came to help out at the event.

Photo: The festival’s Portable Pond Station showcased the tiny creatures migratory birds eat. (Photo by Mark Yokoyama)

“We were thrilled to have so many people come out to the festival, and we’re super grateful that we had so many volunteers at a time when everyone’s so busy with their recovery work. We also couldn’t have done it without our event sponsors, BirdsCaribbean, BZSE, Caribbean Paddling, Delta Petroleum, Lagoonies Bistro and Bar, Tri-sport and Van Dorp,” said Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. “People really came together to make this event happen for the island when times are tough for everyone, and it was amazing.”