Despite the presence of people and vehicles these ponds attract both common and rare birds. Here it is possible to get very close to bird species that are not usually easy to approach.
This ‘walk’ route is along existing roads and can be accessed by motor vehicle by those unable to walk easily, and is a very gentle walk for those that can walk. It takes about 15- 20 minutes to walk the route but allow time to look for the birds. It provides an excellent opportunity particularly for inexperienced birdwatchers to get good views of a broad range of the birds of the island. That is not to say that experienced birdwatchers should ignore this walk, as several rare species including those new to the island and sometimes new to the region have been recorded at these ponds.
Start at the Cotton House Ponds (by the Cotton House, north west Mustique). These are ornamental ponds with water lilies and some surrounding trees and bushes, the smaller pond is in the lawn nearer the beach. Eared Doves often roost in one of the trees, Spotted Sandpiper, and Green Heron are regularly on the lily leaves, Moorhens often with young forage, and a Wilson’s Snipe may be hidden on pond edges, Gray Kingbirds fly from the trees to catch insects. All the white egret species have been seen here as well as other herons.
Then walk north through the roundabout (bear left) and follow the road (slightly uphill), the road then bends round to the right heading east and goes downhill to what is informally called Point Lookout Pond, approach quietly. This pond is a vestige of former more extensive mangrove swamps, it is bordered by long grass, trees and shrubs. Moorhens also breed here, and a Pied-billed Grebe is sometimes present, a Great Blue Heron and both night-heron species are possible.
Carry on past Point Look-out Pond until a fork in the road, ahead is the Palm Grove Pond or Ponds (it becomes one pond if there is more rain). It is in open grassland with palm trees along the road on the north side and a palm grove to the east, and the mangrove woodland of the Bird Sanctuary to the south.
The water is shallow with some exposed sandy banks where waders such as Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs and others are possible. The ponds and the grassland are a good place to see Whimbrel which overwinter on Mustique. After surveying these ponds take the right fork in the road heading south with the service entrance of the Cotton House on your right, and the Bird Sanctuary mangroves on your left (worth a look) and when you come into the open the Cotton House will be round to the right. Rebellious people can of course walk the route the other way round!
Common birds that can be seen include: Antillean Crested Hummingbirds, Spotted Sandpipers, Pectoral Sandpipers, Wilson’s Snipes and Soras.
Mustique is a private resort island, so please note that island access may be seasonally limited.
Day trips from other islands are available, check local charter companies or yacht charters.
Michael Paice, email@example.com.