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The Environmental Awareness Group of Antigua & Barbuda

Raising awareness & promoting sustainable use of natural resources

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The EAG Christian Valley Bird Trail Project is sponsored by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.  The project started in March 2011 and the trail was opened officially on Thursday January 26th, 2012. Click here for information about the trail. Click here for a slideshow.


Project Aims

This project is aimed at increasing awareness of our native and migratory birds and at capacity building.  The project seeks to create viable livelihoods in eco-tourism by training community members in bird identification and in tour guiding.  Other project aims are to rehabilitate and develop trails suitable for birding and to educate people about our beautiful birds.


Capacity Building

Meetings were held with community groups to sensitize people in the villages surrounding Mount Obama about the project and about associated livelihood opportunities.  For capacity building amongst persons who desire to enter the tourism industry directly, we developed a birding tour guide course in collaboration with the American International College of Arts and Sciences of Antigua.  Participants obtained instruction in elements of customer service, received first aid training, were taught various aspects of bird biology and ecology and were trained in bird identification.  Field training was also included.


Education

Junior Prosper and Carmen Lake visited 12 Primary Schools. Students were treated to a discussion on native and migratory birds, bird biology, nesting habits and habitats and where in Antigua and Barbuda different birds can be found.  Some students were also treated to field trips where many got to use binoculars and spotting scopes for the first time and took turns trying to identify birds that they had heard of in class or seen in print material.  

To help educate the general population, a number of newspaper articles were produced.  The articles covered a range of topics including the importance of birds, birding as a livelihood and discourse on specific birds.

There were also a number of bird watching sessions and other activities to mark International Migratory Bird Day in October.

The project was featured on ABS TV and Observer Radio promoting birding and our trail building project.


Other Activities

There was the photography contest in which 32 persons participated and the photographs entered were of a wonderful quality.  Prizes will be given at the official trail opening. Prizes and other support were donated by Adventure Antigua, Allan Aflak, Anne Granger, APUA/iMobile, Best of Books, Galleon Beach Hotel, Hawksbill Hotel, Kennedy’s, OJ’s Bar and Restaurant, Search Antigua, Treasure Island Cruises and, Turner’s Beach Bar and Restaurant.

A booth was set up at the annual Fitches Creek Homeowners Associations’ Fair and many persons stopped by to either draw faces for the bird or learn an interesting fact or two.  


Publications

We prepared educational materials, handouts with information on the birds and a Bird Checklist for Christian Valley. Many thanks to Karen Cassidy, Junior, Adriel and Victor for their contributions. For future school and other educational experiences we have in the EAG office an updated library of books, bird calling CDs, and files on activities for various age groups.  Also upgraded was the equipment section with items like binoculars and spotting scopes.


The Future

Although the project is nearing completion, there is much room for expansion and improving this wonderful trail, so come and experience the Christian Valley Birding Trail and put on your thinking cap for future ideas.  Birding benefits the environment as well as the birds!


Acknowledgements

We would like to thank our Sponsors the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, the Ambassador-at-Large to the Caribbean, Mikko Pyhälä and Johanna Kivimäki for their generosity, cooperative spirit, and moral support during the project.  

We would like to thank the project team: the project coordinator, Dr Carmen Lake and Stephen Watt, landscape architect, who designed and constructed the trail with assistance from Miguel Nolasco and Rodriguez Diaz.

We would also like to thank the Staff at the Christian Valley Agricultural Station, the Mount Obama National Parks Committee and those who volunteered to help with their expertise and time: EAG staff members, Hilda Morales and Jose Colon from Puerto Rico, Mark Walter and Karen Cassidy from the UK, Junior Prosper, Karron James, Alan Scholl, Andrea Otto, Victor Joseph, Adriel Thibou, Dr Jorge Moreno, Roger Reid, Dickson and Nickson Edwards, and  Brian Cooper from Antigua,  Myron Abhar and Michael Humerick from Canada.


The Christian Valley Bird Trail Project

THe EAG would like to thank our Sponsors the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and the Ambassador-at-Large to the Caribbean, Mikko Pyhälä for their generosity, cooperative spirit, and moral support during the project.