BirdSleuth Caribbean Brings Protection for Resident and Migratory Birds in Carriacou, Grenada

It all started in November, 2014, when Antonia Peters, our new Project Officer attended the 3-day training workshop in Nassau, Bahamas along with 23 other educators and conservationists from across the region. At the workshop, participants learned how to implement the innovative BirdSleuth curriculum, “Connecting Kids Through Birds” which was adapted for the Caribbean context by BirdsCaribbean from the BirdSleuth International curriculum developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

The premise of the program is that birds are engaging and a fun way to get youth interested in nature, science, and inquiry-based learning. We hoped to involve our young people in the natural world and build their science skills, as well as increase their appreciation of nature and commitment to environmental stewardship. The curriculum is supported by a kit of materials for educators that contain resources and materials needed for carrying out the lessons, such as laminated bird silhouettes, identification cards, games, field guides, binoculars and spotting scopes, art and craft supplies, and much more.

After Antonia attended the training workshop in Nassau, we were ready to deliver our own local workshops. Given many local residents’ hectic daily schedules, we sought out a number of potential stakeholders, from the Ministry of Education to small primary schools tucked away behind the mountain range. Our phone bill grew exponentially, however, we received positive commitments from 14 teachers of the Carriacou and Petit Martinique primary schools, the Ministry of Education, 4H Club, and NADMA (National Disaster Management Agency) personnel.

On November 19, 20 & 21, 2015, KIDO Foundation, in collaboration with the Grenada Fund for Conservation (GFC) and Education Conservation Outreach (ECO), held a three-day workshop for a group of Carriacou and Petit Martinique educators, in how to use the BirdSleuth Caribbean curriculum. Antonia and her team were excited to pass on their knowledge to our interested and lively educators so that they would in turn teach their youths how to study, appreciate and conserve Caribbean birds.

During the workshop, held at our green hilltop KIDO Environmental Learning Center, seven teachers participated in the first two days, and on the third they enjoyed a bird watching field trip to the new Bird Sanctuary, located in the Petit Carenage wetland area (some 100 forested acres, part of High North proposed National Park). They also visited Big Pond, another birding stopover, tucked among tall trees near the hamlet of Dover, close to Petit Carenage. The vice-principal of Dover Primary School also participated in the field trip, emphasizing his experience and passion for nature protection on his beloved island, in particular Petit Carenage Wetland and the adjacent turtle nesting beach and protected coastline.

The participants enjoyed the hands-on learning activities, peppered with sharply humored interventions, both in the classroom and during field trip activities. By the end of the three-day session they also came up with two new projects, formalized in two groups (schools from the south and north of Carriacou), direct off-shoots of the BirdSleuth Caribbean training.

The northern group proposed to create several shelters and waterholes for birds in the Mt. Pleasant, Windward and Dover areas, to help them during the long and often dramatically waterless dry season. Also on the agenda was the prevention of topsoil erosion along the coast by planting red mangroves and large shade trees, as well as launching a clean-up campaign at the community level to remove plastic litter from the mangroves.

The southern group reinforced the idea of a bird haven by suggesting the construction of bird houses around all the schools of Carriacou, as well as planting native flower and fruit trees around school yards to attract more birds. They also proposed conducting an awareness campaign on bird conservation among kids and parents, 4H clubs, and in the wider community. Ms Lynette Kisha Isaac of M.O.E. asked for birdhouses and watering dishes to be placed around their church yard, and with regards to the BirdSleuth workshop commented, “It was very interactive and informative and learning involved many facets: speaking, viewing, doing.”

We strongly believe that such conservation projects would not have been conceived and formulated had the BirdSleuth Training Torkshop not taken place in Nassau. Several teachers reportedly taught the BirdSleuth Caribbean curriculum and practiced bird conservation with their students utilizing the materials provided despite their busy curriculum. With their students they joined KIDO staff, expertly assisted by two KIDO university volunteers from Chicago, on exciting birding trips along the new Bird Sanctuary trails of Petit Carenage, which had also recently been supported by street signage from the Ministry of Tourism, being an important asset for Carriacou.

All in all, to date, 261 children, 25 teachers and nine community members participated in the BirdSleuth Caribbean program, which was enthusiastically received by children, and word spread that the bird-watching program was so much fun that the youths did not want to leave – even after several hours. The use of binoculars and the Vortex scope really helped awaken their interest in Carriacou’s resident and migratory birds. Vivid close-up observations of our island’s breathtaking birds generated awe and surprise that Carriacou is home to such hidden natural treasures.

When youth are provided the opportunity to quietly observe and learn about birds in their natural habitat, they appreciate their precious role in the web of life.

Only by understanding the interdependence of all species, including humans, can children genuinely care for them and help to conserve island biodiversity, engaging their teachers and families in the process. Form 3 student and keen birder Anthony Matheson said about BirdSleuth in Carriacou: “It was an invigorating experience that brought us closer to nature and closer to ourselves.”

KIDO will continue to provide assistance to the trainers and educators in order to continue the BirdSleuth Caribbean program with new students, as well as help teachers and students of Carriacou Primary Schools to build houses and water bowls for resident birds. Bird activity around schools and churches will be monitored, by counting and identifying resident and migratory birds in the mangrove Bird Sanctuary of Petit Carenage and Big Pond, and mangroves will be planted in critical areas in order to protect the bird sanctuary.

We wish to thank BirdsCaribbean, Optics of the Tropics, and the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (NMBCA) fund of the US Fish & Wildlife Service for the funds, equipment and materials provided to complete this exciting project and create a birding and nature conservation culture in our community. More photos of our BirdSleuth Caribbean program in Carriacou may be viewed at YWF-KIDO Foundation Facebook page.

 

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Nature field trips: Mangrove Restoration, Bird ID, Turtle Beaches

2016–2017 environmental challenges of KIDO youth programs in the context of Climate Change are: -Turtle Nesting Habitat Conservation – Red Mangrove Restoration – Migrant and Resident Bird Conservation – Bio-Diversity Preservation We thank The Rufford’s Small Grant Foundation, LUSH and Birds Caribbean for their support.

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Youth Edu-Conservation @ KIDO Environmental Learning Centre

2016–2017 environmental challenges of KIDO youth programs in the context of Climate Change are: -Turtle Nesting Habitat Conservation – Red Mangrove Restoration – Migrant and Resident Bird Conservation (Bird Watching & Building Bird Houses) – Bio-Diversity Preservation We thank The Rufford’s Small Grant Foundation, LUSH and Birds Caribbean for their support.

 

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BIRDWATCHING, Mangroves enhancement & waste collection study

In November 2015, KIDO Foundation, in collaboration with Grenada Fund for Conservation (GFC) and Education Conservation Outreach (ECO) held a three-day workshop for 14 teachers and educators from Carriacou, with the aim to train the teachers to teach kids how to study, appreciate and conserve the endemic and migratory birds of the Caribbean. This workshop was supported by Birds Caribbean, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and was part of the UNDP/SGP/GEF project “Biodiversity Conservation in Carriacou through Nesting Sea Turtles and Wetland Bird Monitoring”.

In April – May 2016 three teachers from Harvey Vale, Hillsborough and Mt. Pleasant Government schools have so far trained their pupils in Bird Watching & Conservation activities at their schools and in the Bird Sanctuary with technical assistance, materials and equipment provided through KIDO, UNDP and Birds Caribbean.

– Hillsborough Government School Teacher Mr. Guadeloupe brought his lively group of students to practice Bird Watching to Petit Carenage and L’Ilet, part of the Bird and Nesting Turtle Sanctuary, using bird identification techniques, learning to use binoculars and a special telescope from the newly built (and disguised) bird watching platform near main bird feeding area. The group also contributed to the area’s coastal enhancement by planting red mangrove propagules.


– USPCV Mr. Daniel Sharpless brought his 4H Club team from Harvey Vale Government School for multiple activities in the Bird Sanctuary of Petit Carenage including:
1- Bird Watching, using special bird watching equipment, ID cards along the Nature Trails and at the bird watching platform.

2- Collection & Identification of small plastic debris and other waste in two beaches of Carriacou: Petit Carenage, L’ Ilet (part of the Bird and Nesting Turtle Sanctuary, uninhabited, facing North East) and Tyrrell Bay beach (in populated Harvey Vale, in the South West of our island). This activity was part of a wider science project aiming at assessing the ‘Density of plastic debris on inhabited and uninhabited Caribbean Islands’ lead by researcher Dr. Jennifer Lavers, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, Australia who had visited Carriacou earlier on.


3- Collection and planting of coastal protection trees: Red Mangroves propagules
– Teacher Devon Matherson, from Mt. Pleasant Government School brought his students to do further training in Bird Watching and ID in Petit Carenage Bird Sanctuary. They also collected and planted plant red mangrove propagules, adding their valuable effort for the protection of the Sanctuary’s eroding coastline. The Mount Pleasant School group also collected a whole bagful of plastic bottles that littered the Nature area.
Several KIDO Foundation youth members from secondary schools also joined in and assisted in our programs, in particular much assistance was provided by cheerful -and always ready to help- Anthony Matheson, of Belview South.
The activities involving the youths and teachers will continue to be promoted in June by KIDO Foundation as part of BirdsSleuth Caribbean and UNDP projects, and into the summer holidays

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BirdSleuth-Sea Turtle Conservation: Training Trainers Workshop

On 19, 20 & 21 November 2015 KIDO Foundation, in collaboration with Grenada Fund for Conservation (GFC) and Education Conservation Outreach (ECO) held a three-day workshop for 14 teachers and educators from Carriacou. 11 participants received the Certificate of Achievement; the remaining 3 could not be present on the last workshop day and will complete their task at a later date. The training workshop involved 6 Carriacou primary schools, 4H Unit, NADMA and the Ministry of Education personnel. The workshop aimed to train the teacher to teach kids how to study, appreciate and conserve the endemic and migratory birds of the Caribbean. In Carriacou this workshop, which included a chapter on Sea Turtle conservation, was supported by Birds Caribbean, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and was part of the UNDP/SGP/GEF project “Biodiversity Conservation in Carriacou through Nesting Sea Turtles and Wetland Bird Monitoring”.


The Bird Sanctuary in Carriacou is located in the Petit Carenage wetland area, the adjacent beach and mangroves shoreline (a total of approximately 100 acres, part of High North proposed National Park) where critically endangered sea turtles lay their eggs. The Bird Sanctuary and Turtle Nesting Beaches have been recognized as valuable ecotourism sites, as well as prime conservation habitat for a number of endangered species in the Grenadines of Grenada.

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150 Hawksbill Hatchlings safely reach the Ocean

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On September 25, at dawn, KIDO Guide Solomon on turtle patrol in Anse La Roche beach, part of High North Nature Park, discovered 5 hawksbill hatchlings, barely emerged from a nest he had located and duly recorded 58 days earlier. The babies crawled across the white sand into the calm crystal clear water of the bay, evading menacing crab claws and bird predators; yet, as sun rays shone over the High North forest ridge, 36 more hatchlings pushed out of the sand. Exhausted by their effort, the babies hunk still together in the one square foot of nest surface, to wait until the evening coolness and darkness would protect their vital rush toward the beckoning Ocean.

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Guide Solomon knew this early bunch needed to be swiftly rescued from other competing beach patrollers, night herons and marine birds beginning to crowd the sky over Anse La Roche bay: to these birds hatchlings are food they can afford only a few months a year and no chance to swoop down & peck the babies would go wasted!

Our night and early dawn nest-patrols ensure the survival of generations of sea turtles at their most crucial stage of development.

Following WIDECAST procedures, KIDO turtle guides collect hatchlings emerged on early mornings, keep them in a container with humid sand in a dark spot and release them in the early evening.

Critically endangered species, such as newborn hawksbill turtles, have so many odds against their survival that only one in 1,000 eggs is estimated to reach reproductive age, some 30 years later!

 

5At dusk, KIDO Turtle Team (Dario, Marina & Dawnell) hiked the trail across the hills to Anse La Roche beach to release the 36 tiny creatures and verify the state of the nest. We had the pleasant surprise to watch a slow ‘river’ of hatchlings emerging there and then from the same nest: a total of 109, coming out ten at a time!

 

Our presence ensured that, under our watch, no crabs and nor night herons would feast on the vulnerable babies and they all reached the Ocean safely. Within a few strokes of their little fins the hatchlings swam beneath the waves and disappeared.

4After all babies appeared to have emerged from the nest, Dario found a few stragglers imprisoned under a web of thin roots overgrowing  the rim of the nest, and one hatchling part in his shell who had just torn it open, but was straight-jacketed, unable to stretch out because of the root ends entwining the entire egg shell.  Dario carefully cut off each root twine and all stragglers were placed to recover under the keen gaze of volunteer Dawnell, until an hour or so later they slowly unfolded their round posture, and began to crawl correctly aiming for the sea, 20 long feet away.

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Then Marina examined each shell in the empty nest and determined that a total of 171 eggs were laid and that 160 hatchlings had emerged alive.  A very successful nest development rate! And Teamwork!

We know for sure that 150 made it to the sea and hope that the remaining 10 avoided the beach predators in their treacherous passage from their nest to the Ocean.


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Nesting Sea Turtles & Recycled Plastic Bottles Boat

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News from KIDO Planet: Nesting sea turtles & recycled plastic bottles boat

Our 2015 nesting sea turtles season is almost over, leatherback, hawksbill and green turtles have nested on our monitored beaches.

The highlight of the season was the rescue, tag and release of a leatherback mother poached by two fishers.

Kids with Cameras rescue poached leatherback turtle

Our Kids with Cameras group was present and very persuasive in this rescue, the kids stared so hard at the two poachers that these guys could not openly request a ransom and had to cut the ropes releasing to us this illegally caught and dragged ashore endangered species, all 700 pounds of her !

5 Leatherback hatchlings were found under a dry Sargassum trap

The same kids also helped us to clear Petit Carenage nesting turtle beach of the excess Sargassum seaweeds, to allow new born hatchlings to safely reach the Ocean.

Kids with Cameras clear Sargassum off Petit Carenage beach

Ironically, once out in the open sea currents, Sargassum floating patches protect and nourish baby turtles, until they are large enough to swim away.

Feel free to watch our video here.

KIDO Summer Cat

A 10×5 ft catamaran, KIDO Summer Cat, was built with the kids help of recycled plastic bottles and other materials.
She successfully made her maiden 5 km sea voyage on the last day of the 50th Carriacou Regatta 2015 and became a model of a recycling plastic project that others can replicate and expand to several creative concepts, for an Ocean and beaches free of Plastics!

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KIDO Environmental Youth Program 2014 – 2015

KIDO Environmental Youth Program Video

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Sea Turtle Nesting Season 2014 – 2015

13 - July 27, 2014. Petit Carenage. A heartfelt moment for volunteer Cecilia holding newly emerged hatchling of leatherback mother WC 8411

10 - July 13, 2014. Petit Carenage. RA Antonia Peters relocates eggs while hawksbill mother (WH 7966) drops them. This nest location was unsafe

 

9 - July 11, 2014. Petit Carenage. Guide Solomon, RA Antonia and UK volunteer Lucie with post-nesting hawksbill tagged WS 0628

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to The Rufford Small Grant Foundation

for its support of sea turtle conservation in the Caribbean region
RSG New Logo

 

 

 

 

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May 23, 2015 – Rescue, Tag & Release of Poached Leatherback Turtle

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Illegally caught & dragged ashore, a female leatherback turtle, fully protected as endangered species all year around by law, was successfully rescued by Kids with Cameras Carriacou with KIDO rescue team in Windward.

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Compassion will save the world, but love of other creatures will prevent a lot of unnecessary suffering

 

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Tag and measure was done swiftly

 

 

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FREE AT LAST ! The water in the photo shows excess Sargassum seaweeds invading the Eastern shore. This unprecedented level of Sargassum growth has been plaguing the Eastern Caribbean islands

 

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