Jaco Photos and News of a Surviving Sisserou Pair: An Update from Karl Watson

Many thanks to Karl Watson for permission to share his updates from Barbados here. His latest news, first posted on the Wild Caribbean Facebook page, includes word of a surviving Sisserou pair, as follows:

As promised, I said I would post some Dominica pictures after Dr Lennox Honychurch came to Barbados. These are some of his photographs. They tell a bittersweet story of coastal regeneration and survival, contrasted with a broken and destroyed interior. They follow a specific order.

1Red necked parrots feeding on the seed pods of the West Indian white cedar.

5A drone shot of Dr Honychurch’s property at Turtle Point, Woodford Hill, where the Red-necked parrots have gathered. Don’t be fooled by the apparent greenery of the cliff area around his house. Zoom in on the mountains in the back. This is the Morne Diablotin range. Seven weeks after Maria, the area looks as if an atom bomb had been dropped on it. I don’t know if the environmental damage caused by this natural disaster can ever properly be assessed, but the destruction of the wildlife in this vast and completely devastated area must have been enormous. This is the heartland of wild Dominica, the prime habitat of the Imperial parrot.

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Next follows a close up of the Emerald Pool area at the top of the Castle Bruce valley.  I wish I had a before picture of this area to fully emphasize the horror of Maria’s destruction. 

7A photograph of broken, twisted vegetation. See if you can pick out the parrots among the broken limbs!

8The final photograph shows two Red necked parrots among the broken branches.

Dr Honychurch has confirmation from Jem Winston of the survival of a pair of Imperial parrots in the Three Rivers area on the eastern slopes of Morne Trois Pitons…He has asked a multiplicity of sources/observers including officials of the Forestry Department and workmen of the DOWASCO (water authority) who have been working in the headwaters of several of Dominica’s rivers and are therefore in a position to observe any passing parrots.

Dr Honychurch’s last words of hope are : “Dominica has vast, inaccessible areas where Imperial parrots could still remain unseen.” So let us not yet write them off as a species. They have survived past hurricanes….. maybe enough Sisserou have survived the fury of Maria to save them from certain extinction. It would be a tragedy if this bird was to disappear as so many other West Indian bird species have.

Thank you, Karl! News of a surviving Sisserou pair does indeed offer reason for hope. Keep the updates coming.

To read about the November 8 documentation of a lone Sisserou at Morne Saint Mary south of Roseau, click here.

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A Treeful of Jacos: A Video Update from Dominica

I’ve shared the distinctive sounds of the Sisserou with you here. Now it’s the Jaco’s turn! Thanks to Nikki Chandler Couture for this morning’s video update: a treeful of Red-necked amazons feeding on her property near Sultan Falls. Have a listen– and enjoy your Monday as the Nature Island heals today.

Jacos Eating Grapefruit: More Evidence of Parrot Survival Post-Maria

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Amazona arausciaca retrieving grapefruit goodness from the ground

Thanks again to Nikki Chandler Couture for the Red-necked amazon update with new photos and a video this afternoon. Nikki writes:

 Taken this evening, visiting Jacos eating grapefruit. They come twice daily to our place (The Ramelton Estate near Sultan Falls). My husband is there now. That’s the caretaker’s home in the distance in the last picture.

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In a post here a few days ago, I mentioned that the same caretaker had reported seeing a pair of Imperial parrots coming to feed on grapefruit on three separate occasions. The specific details of the report are intriguing– and sound credible. Hopefully, the Sisserou pair will be documented for sure soon. Meanwhile, it is wonderful to see the Jacos receiving the nourishment they need in this time of crisis. Though the Sisserou is a much rarer bird, the red-necked amazon– once known as the Bouquet’s parrot– is also rare, precious, and endemic only to Dominica.

I am anxious to learn the present numbers of both species in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Long may their unique beauty grace the forests of Eden.

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