People of all ages came to celebrate migratory birds and learn about the amazing journeys that bring them to St. Martin. It was a record crowd for the Migratory Birds Festival, organized by Les Fruits de Mer. Attendees were treated to a variety of presentations and activities related to migratory birds and the habitats that sustain them.
“The story of bird migration is fascinating, but we also see it as a gateway to learning about the entire ecosystem that surrounds them,” explained Les Fruits de Mer co-founder Mark Yokoyama. “Activities like the Portable Pond Discovery Station and Crabitat highlight the less noticeable critters that sustain many of our birds, and the Club Gaïac seedling giveaway gets people personally involved in restoring native trees.”
This year’s event also showcased the different ways we interact with migratory birds. Ilja Botha, founder of Seagrape Tours, shared her experience offering birding tourism on St. Martin in her presentation. Jenn Yerkes, president of Les Fruits de Mer, presented the story of two women who laid the groundwork for major conservation treaties in their efforts to save egrets from exploitation by the fashion industry. Guests connected with birds through photography and art activities as well.
A birdwatching station on the Great Salt Pond, hosted by certified birding guide and Nature Foundation Board Member Binkie van Es was also a favorite. People of all ages learned to use binoculars and bird ID cards to spot Laughing Gulls, Spotted Sandpipers, Great Blue Herons, and other migratory bird species as well as year-round residents like Snowy Egrets, Brown Pelicans, and Magnificent Frigatebirds.
“Hosting the Migratory Bird Festival has been an amazing journey for us as well,” commented Jenn Yerkes. “Each year we’ve been able to expand and enhance the festival with the help of our volunteers, partner University of St. Martin and our sponsors Yacht Club Port de Plaisance, Lagoonies Bistro and Bar, Hotel L’Esplanade, GEBE, Delta Petroleum, BZSE Attorneys at Law, Buccaneer Beach Bar, Aqua Mania Adventures and ACE.”
For those that didn’t make it to the event, a wide variety of event materials are available online for free download. The Pond Life ebook tells the stories of seven wetland birds from St. Martin. Bird masks and coloring pages can be downloaded and printed as an activity for the classroom or the home. An preview clip from Les Fruits de Mer’s in progress documentary about the Great Salt Pond and presentations filmed at the event are available for viewing online viewing. Find all of these materials at: http://www.lesfruitsdemer.com/resources/