Category Archives: Field Guide Friday

Field Guide Fridays – Migratory Bird Press Release

All images taken at Fleur de Lys
At Fleur de Lys Villa we are fortunate to see many different species of birds on a daily basis.  The nationally protected reserve which borders the villa property is just one of many throughout the country.  In the Turks and Caicos Islands birds are protected by law.  The DECR has just wrapped up an especially active month of bird monitoring:

“The Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR) has been collecting data on just how important our natural habitats are to migratory birds. . . . The data generated while DECR conducts these activities is sent back to SCSCB, who will process it along with similar regional data. When combined, this gives us a good idea of which birds are moving through which areas, when. This is especially important because many of these birds are under pressure in part of their range, either by habitat destruction or other danger.”

Please read the full press release here.
The above species needs identified, if you recognize it, please post a message!  Identifying birds is most often about sight; identifying it’s characteristics including size, shape, coloring, movement, and flight pattern.  But this very special species below can easily be identified by it’s unique call.  Take a listen . . .
The West Indian Whistling Duck is an endangered species that is globally threatened.  If you have heard this beautiful call, consider yourself very fortunate for this is not only a rare bird, but one of the less vocal species of ducks.  Please visit scscb to find out more about Caribbean birds and how to help.  Please log all your bird sightings on to assist keeping this species and many more alive and well.

Field Guide Fridays – Yellow Alder

This sunshine colored lovely is locally known as “Bahama Yellow Flower” or “Yellow Alder”.  This West Indian natives scientific name is Turnera Ulmifolia but our neighbors may refer to it as “Cuban Buttercup”, “West Indian Holly”, “Sage Rose”, “Sundrops”, “Marilopez”, or the curious “Ramgoat Dashalong.”    The bright blossoms only last a day but luckily this herb blooms throughout the year here in the Turks and Caicos Islands.  Bees and butterflies are frequent visitors to this sun loving shrub.  Here is what Micki from Big Coppit Key, FL writes:
“This plant is also known as “Yellow Alder” and “Sage Rose.” It is tenacious and grows just about anywhere: full sun, shade, dry or moist soil, acidic to alkaline; rich, average, or poor soil; and in the cracks of a sidewalk. It is very drought tolerant.
It does not appear to have many pests, or is not bothered by the ocassional nibble.
It can be grown from seeds and cuttings, but does not transplant well. It does not like having it’s feet tickled. The most effective way to transplant is to start it in a peat pot and, if you are going to plant it into the ground, put it in the spot you want it in and leave it alone. I tried to transplant a 2′ tall specimen keeping a generous amount of dirt around the root ball, but it went into transplant shock and died anyway.
I have learned it is very comfortable in containers and does not mind becoming root bound. In pots they can be moved around as they grow taller. My oldest Alder plant is about four years old and about 4 1/2 feet high and it has been moved around the garden as the seasons change.
They make beautiful background plants. They can get leggy and may require some staking, so trim the side growth by 1/3 to 1/2 to encourage it to get bushy.
On the down side, most nurseries in Florida do not offer them because they regard them to be weeds and crowd out other plants. I treat mine the same way as mints and ruella (Texas petunia): I pull volunteer plants and keep it contained.
On the up-side, this plant , according to Pub, has the potential to treat MRSA.
I hope this information helped fellow gardners decide if they want this “gypsy” in their garden.”
Information taken from daves garden
Another detailed account on this plants characteristics may be read on ntsavanna

Field Guide Fridays – Catclaw Mimosa

Today’s field guide Friday post follows the old saying “can’t read a book by it’s cover.”  As sweet and pretty as these pink puffball flowers look,
this is one species you DO NOT want to touch!
Catclaw is the common name for good reason; Mimosa bahamensis has hook shaped spikes or thorns that grab and don’t let go!  I have many times been caught by this tree while hiking in the bush and can attest that it does not discriminate.  It will latch on to heavy duty jeans, cotton shirts, or bare skin.  Please watch for out for this tree when exploring in the Turks and Caicos Islands.  To read more about this genus and species please see zipcodezoo.

Field Guide Fridays – Pork and Doughboy

Acacia Acuifera, locally “pork and doughboy” 
“Acacia acuifera only grows in the Bahamas archipelago including the Turks and Caicos Islands. It grows in coppice around the coasts of the islands. Coppiced woodland occurs when trees are regularly cut back to ground level with young shoots reappearing from the trees’ stumps. Its common name is pork and doughboy, possibly describing the sausage-shaped fruits. The tree is a favourite food source for the endemic Turks and Caicos rock iguana (Cyclura carinata) which feeds on new leaves, flowers and ripe pods. When the trees’ seeds have passed through an iguana’s digestive system, any beetle larvae which might have infested them are killed off and the seeds germinate more easily. Seeds collected from Acacia acuifera have been put into storage at the Millennium Seed Bank and seedlings resulting from germination trials are being grown on at Kew for eventual display in one of the public glasshouses.”
Above information from

Acacia Acuifera is found on calcerous soils, is classified as a shrub or small tree, and is described as having alternating leaves and reddish brown to grey twig like stems.  Their bright yellow ball flowers remind me of miniature craspedia or Billy Balls and they bloom all year long so are easily identifiable.  If you would like to see this species, the following habitats migh be explored, information from

“East Caicos:
rocky headland adjacent to Good’s Hill, SE corner of island, 31 Mar 1978, W.T.Gillis 14459 (GH).

Grand Turk:
beach coppice near Gun Hill, 20 Dec 1975, D.S.Correll 46560 (F, FTG, NY);
Waterloo and vicinity, 20 Feb-24 Mar 1911, C.F.Millspaugh & C.M.Millspaugh 9025 (F, NY);
27 Aug-1 Sep 1905, G.V.Nash & N.Taylor 3775 (F, NY).

Middle (Grand) Caicos:
pineland E of Conch Bar airstrip, 3.5 miles ESE of Conch Bar, 14 Jun 1974, W.T.Gillis & G.R.Proctor 12331 (A, IJ).

Parrot Cay:
sandy soil between dunes, 3 Mar 1911, C.F.Millspaugh & C.M.Millspaugh 9204 (F, NY).

Pine Cay:
dry thicket, 26 Sep 1973, R.G.Anderson 45 (A, FLAS);
NE side, 26 Aug 1974, D.S.Correll 43193 (FLAS, FTG);
E of airstrip in open scrubland, 23 Feb 1973, W.T.Gillis 11830 (A);
stable sandy flats, scrubland behind dunes, 24 Jan 1993, P.H.Raven 28203 (MO);
sandy flats N of Meredian Lodge, 27 Jan 1993, P.H.Raven 28273 (MO).

dune coppice, Turtle Cove, 14 Dec 1975, D.S.Correll 46353 (F, FTG MO, NY);
coastal coppice near the Bight, 24 Jun 1990, B.A.Neis 164 (FTG).

South Caicos:
rocky limestone coast S of Cockburn Harbour, 21 Apr 1971, D.Burch 4227 (MO, NY);
ridge running between Cockburn Harbour and airport, 11 Feb 1978, D.S.Correll 49450 (FTG);
vicinity of Cockburn Harbour, 17 Jun 1954, G.R.Proctor 8835 (A, IJ);
G.R.Proctor 17496 (A);
14-16 Dec 1907, P.Wilson 7591 (F, GH, NY).

West Caicos:
NE of Company Point along N coast with thatch palm, 3 April 1975, W.T.Gillis 12404 (A, IJ, MO).”

Field Guide Fridays – Dune Myrtle

Little information is known about this shrub we call Dune Myrtle in the Turks and Caicos.  It’s scientific name, stenostomum myrtifolium, popped up on several medical databases so one can only assume it is being researched for pharmecuetical properties.  All I know is these tiny little white blossoms give off an incredible fragrant scent when in bloom.  
Name synonyms are Antirhea myrtifolia and Stenostomum montecristinum.  If you have more information about this species, please place a comment with your knowledge!