Dominica’s Number One Bird Guide Shares His Secrets….
Dr Birdy (full name Bertrand Jno Baptiste) is the best loved bird guide in Dominica. Of the 188 bird species which can be seen on the island, he has seen 171. When he’s not guiding, he works for Dominica’s Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division and has co-written several books about the island’s birds. If guests at Secret Bay want to go out into the forests and hills to discover our rich and diverse natural highlights, he’s the man we turn to. He spoke to us about what he loves most about Dominica.
What is it that you love most about the nature of Dominica?
Dominica is special with unique flora and fauna. These include endemic orchids, parrots and hummingbirds. Besides, the island is small and getting around is pretty easy, so its fairly accessible to getting to waterfalls and prime rainforest. The island is still very much undisturbed.
What was the most memorable experience you have had while out in nature in Dominica?
There are many, but the most recent would be with an American couple who stayed at the SecretBay. She was desperate to see the Imperial parrot in the wild and said to me: ‘We must see it since I have this charm that wherever I go I always see what is most difficult and unique”. Within an hour not only had we seen all of the special desired birds, but we’d seen and photographed an Imperial parrot very close, in fact just off the vehicle.
Another amazing experience involved a nine year old boy who was desperate to view a Boa Constrictor in the wild. Just as we were ending the expedition, a seven foot boa crossed the road. Come to think of it, there’s so many like this: another recent experience was was when i was with a father & son, both of whom had separate requests – the father desperately needed to see the local species of Boa Constrictor in the wild and the son wanted the species of Barn Owl. Our expedition was nocturnal so we started by 7:15pm. And within 10 minutes we’d spotted the Boa. 35 mins later we’d seen the Owl. And it mean I was home by 9pm!
You are involved with the classification of plant and animal species at Secret Bay. How is the work going?
The plant work has been completed, so now I will assist with labelling of trees and plants around the property. We’ve found the national flower the Bwa Kwaib, and and a few special orchids, such as the eyelash orchid.
We’ve also just completed the checklist of birds that can be spotted without leaving SecretBay, and that document is ready, I just need to select some special photos to complement it. Then early in October, I will begin documenting the fauna of the Secret Bay area – this will include some insects such as Spiders & Butterflies.
What is your favourite place that you take people on the island?
No doubt it’s the Syndicate area. It’s accessible, but rich in everything, even if you are not necessarily a birder. There are parrots, hummingbirds, orchids, rich and prime rainforest with huge old trees, national park, mountain ranges, the base of our tallest mountain Morne Diablotin, waterfalls, farms, medicinal herbs and flowers.
Has anything a client / guest ever said to you while out with you guiding them really stuck in your mind?
I just love that they love our island, and that I am able to help them find special birds or whatever else they want to see.