Dr. Mike Pienkowski is a leading ornithologist in the United Kingdom. He is also the Honorary Executive Director of the UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum (UKOTCF). I first met Ann and Mike when Mike was my son’s boss. To my son’s horror, as we entertained Mike and Ann in our garden, I would point out “Big Bird” (yellow-crowned night heron) and “Tweety Bird” (yellow warbler). Yes, I was a birder extraordinaire!
Both Ann and Mike made many trips to TCI over the last 15 years to count and identify the bird population. They were instrumental in bringing the plight of the salinas (and the effect on the bird populations) to the TCI Government, which in turn bolstered the case for protecting Town and Red Salinas. To say birding is their passion would be an understatement.
Fast forward to 2010, when Mike and Ann heard about the Carnival/TCInvest/TCIG/Infrastructure Fund. They approached the Turks & Caicos National Museum to partner with them and present a proposal for funding a bird trail. The concept of a Bird Trail is not new, in fact it has been on the back burner for almost nine years. Lack of funding — not enthusiasm — was the culprit. We pitched the idea, and were awarded a grant from the Infrastructure Fund.
The Bird Trails will be the first of their kind in the Caribbean, and were presented by Dr. Mike Pienkowski at the July 2011 conference of the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds (SCSCB) in Freeport, Bahamas. SCSCB plans to encourage and market such trails throughout the region in a network of Caribbean birding trail experiences.
When I took the position of director of business development for the Turks & Caicos National Museum, little did I know I would have the opportunity to learn so much about birds, and how they depend on our salinas. I also never knew that TCI is one of the best birding places on earth, where one can see many different species of birds even without the use of binoculars.
Previously on Green Antilles: Unusual bird sighting in the Turks and Caicos Islands and Birding in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
[Photo: via timespub.tc]