Over 400 people attended the second Birds & Bugs event on Sunday at Loterie Farm to learn more about the birds and invertebrates living in the tropical broadleaf forest on St. Martin. Activities included interacting with live insects, going on guided birding tours and creating “bugs” out of natural materials. Birds & Bugs 2015 was presented by the Les Fruits de Mer association in partnership with Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) and Loterie Farm.
“The turnout was fantastic—our best-attended event so far, and perhaps the biggest wildlife education event in the history of the island,” reported Jenn Yerkes, President of Les Fruits de Mer. “Our amazing experts and volunteers worked hard to make this event a real success for everybody!”
The Bug Discovery Station was a busy attraction, featuring a Caterpillar Corner and a fascinating array of live insects and spiders, from walking sticks and beetles to a Tarantula Hawk Wasp and a tarantula. There was even a Souliga Wall Crab Spider, which is only found on St. Martin. The station also included an area where guests could try their hand at identifying a variety of species with the help of guidebooks, magnifying glasses and a microscope. Many guests came to the event with questions about the caterpillars that are currently particularly abundant on Flamboyant trees.
The art activity station was abuzz with kids and adults having fun creating strange new forms of bug life from natural materials at the Build-A-Bug Workshop. These crazy critters were constructed in all shapes and sizes and could be made into clips or refrigerator magnets to take home.
Hundreds of visitors took guided walks in the forest with professional bird guide and local bird expert Binkie van Es, where they also had a unique chance to learn about bird banding from EPIC’s President Natalia Collier and Senior Biologist Adam Brown. EPIC has been banding birds for research at Loterie Farm for 15 years. Although the wet weather was not ideal for birding, guests had the opportunity to visit with the bird researchers and find out about the tropical broadleaf forest, a rare and important habitat that covers only a small part of the island.
At EPIC’s Bird Education Station, hosted by Environmental Educator Laura Bijnsdorp, 100 kids played a Bird Bingo birdwatching game for prizes. Les Fruits de Mer’s Club Gaïac native tree replanting project introduced a new crowd-sourced experiment, distributing dozens of free seed kits with instructions for testing different seed preparation methods at home to increase germination rates.
Les Fruits de Mer’s next public project will be a series of free, fun wildlife presentations at Mardis de Grand Case, every Tuesday evening in Grand Case starting January 12th.
Birds & Bugs 2015 was a free, public Wildlife Discovery Event hosted by Les Fruits de Mer in partnership with EPIC and Loterie Farm. Birds & Bugs 2015 was sponsored by Buccaneer Beach Bar, Delta Petroleum, Hotel L’Esplanade, Island Mattress, St. Martin Voyages and Tri-Sport. For more information about Les Fruits de Mer, visit: www.lesfruitsdemer.com or stop by their booth at Mardis de Grand Case.