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Flamingos and Flowers: An Early Morning Walk

Sunrise is the best time to walk on Guana Island to see flamingoes and enjoy the flowers. Around 9:00 AM the weather gets hotter and Guana is most conducive to water activities—kayaking, snorkeling, swimming, or just relaxing by the ocean. Besides enjoying the cooler air on this morning, I wanted to visit the flamingoes who have taken up residence in the salt pond. (Image above: On the road to the salt pond.)

Roseate flamingoes were once common in the Caribbean. Unfortunately, the juveniles were hunted for food after Europeans began colonizing the islands. In 1983, Guana Island Wildlife Sanctuary became a place to restart the flamingo population. The salt pond is sheltered and has plenty of food in it for the birds.  Anegada Island is also a flamingo sanctuary. Between the two places, the population is increasing.

One of the lookout spots for the birds is the site of an abandoned sugar mill. The very first European settlers on the island farmed sugar cane and cotton, with work supplied by enslaved people.

I enjoyed the view of the flamingos from the old mill and then moved on to a few other spots where I could be a bit closer. I admired the birds until I could no longer take the biting no-see-um bugs. The bugs typically come out at 4:00 PM on the beach, so I was surprised to encounter them so early in the day. The bites don’t seem to leave welts, but they are annoying at the time of the bite. I left the bugs behind and strolled around to see some of the flowers.

The Quakers who colonized the island in 1743 and ran the farm with African enslaved people, left around 1759. It wasn’t until the 1930’s that the Bigelow family of Boston purchased the island with the intention of using it as a retreat for themselves and their friends. Guana became a resort in 1974 when the Jarecki family of New York bought it and established it as both a wildlife preserve and a resort. (Image: Turk's Hat Cactus)

Most of the flora and fauna on the island isn’t indigenous or was reestablished, like the flamingo and the iguana. Sea grapes grow near all the beaches and is a favorite food of the iguanas. There are organ pipe cactus and Turk’s cap cactus all over the island. Turpentine, tamarind, and Australian pine are just a few of the trees. Flowers are plentiful.

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