Shorebird watch planned Sunday at Southgate Pond


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ST. THOMAS - The St. Croix Environmental Association is holding a shorebird watch at Southgate Pond this weekend.

This time of year, many different species of birds can be seen throughout the territory as they pass through the region on their way to warmer climates for the winter.

"It's migration time," program director Carol Burke said. "These are not birds that are here year-round. Every week you go out, things are a little bit different."

She said it is a perfect time for birders of all experience levels to get out and see many different species in the wild.

"They arrive here exhausted and hungry, and they need to feed up and get ready for the next journey," Burke said.

In addition to the birds that live in the area, bird watchers may get a glimpse of migrating birds, such as greater yellow legs, lesser yellow legs, different types of sandpipers, plovers and short-billed dowitchers.

"And we may see the flamingo," Burke said.

Those who join the event may catch a glimpse of Hope the whimbrel, who winters on St. Croix.

"We're still waiting for Hope to return this year. We haven't seen her yet," Burke said. "We would expect her to be arriving at any time."

Other whimbrels have been spotted at the pond during two surveys earlier this month, she said.

While some may shy away from the event because of the forecasted storm and rainy weather, Burke said that can make for the best bird watching conditions.

"A good time to go bird watching is after a storm," she said. "If there is a storm, birds come to ground, if there is ground to go to. So, we can get some unusual birds, birds that wouldn't normally land here."

The activity will be from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Bird watchers should bring their own binoculars if they have them, but the association will have binoculars to share for those who do not. Burke also is bringing a birding scope.

The group will be at the west end of Southgate Pond, in the shade of the mangroves. It is a short walk to get to the spot, she said. Burke encouraged people to wear sturdy shoes that are OK in the mud, not flip flops.

People should bring water and maybe bug repellent, she said.

Participants must register in advance. Adults who are not members of the St. Croix Environmental Association will pay $10. Members and children are free.

Burke said children 8 and older are welcome.

"We have a few folks already signed up. We'll have a wide variety of skills, and we're always happy to have new folks join our bird watching community on St. Croix," Burke said. "This is a lovely venue for an afternoon bird watch."

To register, call the St. Croix Environmental Association at 773-1989.

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email alewin@dailynews.vi.

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