Hotel, birds and trees.

Beez Neez
Skipper and First Mate Millard (Big Bear and Pepe)
Tue 3 Feb 2009 23:11

A hotel, a couple of birds and trees.




The only mention of Barbados in our "1000 things" book in Sandy Lane a beautiful hotel at £1000 plus per room per night, we just had a LOOK.





Not a day has gone past when we haven't seen loads of these chaps. The Carib Grackle, Quiscalus lugubris, is a New World tropical blackbird, a resident breeder in the Lesser Antilles and northern South America east of the Andes, from Colombia east to Venezuela and northeastern Brazil. The adult male Carib Grackle is 27cm long with a long wedge-shaped tail, although the latter is not so long as with other grackles. Its plumage is entirely black with a violet iridescence, its eyes are yellow, and it has a strong dark bill. The adult female is 23cm long, with a shorter tail and brown plumage, darker on the upperparts. Young males are shorter tailed than adult males and have some brown in the plumage. Young females are very similar to the adult females. The breeding habitat is open areas including cultivation and human habitation. This is a colonial breeder, with several deep, lined cup nests often being built in one tree. Two to four whitish eggs are laid. Incubation takes 12 days, with a further 14 to fledging. This species is sometimes parasitised by Shiny Cowbird, but is quite successful at rejecting the eggs of that species. The Carib Grackle is a highly gregarious species, foraging on the ground for insects, other invertebrates or scraps. It can become very tame and bold, entering restaurants to seek food, normally feeding on leftovers. It will form groups to attack potential predators, such dogs, mongooses or humans, and at night it roosts colonially. The Carib Grackle's song is a mixture of harsh and more musical ringing notes, with a bell-like tickita-tickita-tickita-ting and a rapid chi-chi-chi-chi being typical. The calls vary in dialect between islands and the bird usually fluffs up its feathers when calling.




The Eared Dove, Zenaida auriculata, (first and second pictures) is a New World tropical dove. It is a resident breeder throughout South America from Colombia to southern Argentina and Chile, and on the offshore islands from the Grenadines southwards. It may be a relatively recent colonist of Tobago and Trinidad. It appears to be partially migratory, but details are little known, although migration may be driven by food supplies. It is a close relative of the North American Mourning Dove. With that species, the Socorro Dove, and possibly the Galapagos Dove it forms a super species. The latter two are insular offshoots, the Socorro birds from ancestral Mourning Doves, the Galápagos ones from more ancient stock.

The Zenaida Dove, Zenaida aurita (third photo) is a member of the bird family Columbidae, which includes doves and pigeons. It is the national bird of Anguilla, where it is commonly (but erroneously) referred to as a Turtle Dove. The Zenaida Dove breeds throughout the West Indies and the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula. It was reported by Audubon to breed in the Florida Keys, but there are only three verifiable records from Florida. It lays two white eggs on a flimsy platform built on a tree or shrub. It also nests in rock crevices and on grassy vegetation if no predators are present. It has been recorded of some birds having up to 4 broods per year. Eggs take approximately two weeks to hatch, and the young chicks typically fledge after only two weeks in the nest. Parents feed the young pigeon's milk, a nutrient rich substance regurgitated from its crop. The bird is resident and abundant over much of its range. Zenaida Doves are commonly hunted as a game bird. The Zenaida Dove is approximately 28–30 cms in length. It looks very similar to the Mourning Dove, but is smaller in size, has a shorter, more rounded tail, and is a bit more darkly coloured. It is also distinguished from the Mourning Dove by showing white on the trailing edge of its wings in while in flight. The Mourning Dove does not have the white trailing edge. This bird is found in a range of open and semi-open habitats. Its mournful cooOOoo-coo-coo-coo call is similar to the call of a Mourning Dove, but faster in pace. These birds forage on the ground, mainly eating grains and seeds, sometimes also on insects. Zenaida Doves frequently feed close to water. They often swallow fine gravel to assist with digestion, and will also ingest salt from mineral rich soils or livestock salt licks. It is thought the salt aids in egg formation and/or production of pigeon milk.




The Manchioneel tree (Hippomane mancinella) is a species of flowering plant in the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae), native to Florida (where it is an endangered species), the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Central America, and northern South America. The name "manchineel" (sometimes written "manchioneel") as well as the specific epithet mancinella is from Spanish manzanilla ("little apple"), from the superficial resemblance of its fruit and leaves those of an apple  tree. A present-day Spanish name is in fact manzanilla de la muerte, "little apple of death". This refers to the fact that manzanilla is one of the most poisonous trees in the world. I know the word as Manchioneel after several species of tropical bird, the first in 2005 in the BVI’s. Manchioneel is a tree reaching up to 15 metres high with a greyish bark, shiny green leaves and spikes of small greenish flowers. Its fruits, which are similar in appearance to an apple, are green or greenish-yellow when ripe. The manchioneel tree can be found near to (and on) coastal beaches. It provides excellent natural windbreaks and its roots stabilise the sand, thus helping to prevent beach erosion.


The tree and its parts contain strong toxins. It will secrete a white milky substance during rainfall. Allegedly, standing beneath the tree during rain may cause blistering of the skin from mere contact with this liquid. Burning the tree may cause blindness if the smoke reaches the eyes. The fruit can also be fatal if eaten. Many trees carry a warning sign, while others are marked with a red painted ring around the trunk to indicate danger. The tree contains 12-deoxy-5-hydroxyphorbol-6gamma,7alpha-oxide, hippomanins, mancinellin, and sapogenin, phloracetophenone-2,4-dimethylether is present in the leaves, while the fruits possess physostigmine.



The Caribs used the sap of this tree to poison their arrows and would tie captives to the trunk of the tree, ensuring a slow and painful death. A poultice of arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea) was used by the Arawaks and Taino as an antidote against such arrow poisons. The Caribs were known to poison the water supply of their enemies with the leaves. Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon was struck by an arrow that had been poisoned with Manchioneel sap during battle with the Calusa in Florida, dying shortly thereafter. To Europeans, the manchioneel quickly became notorious. The heroine of Giacomo Meyerbeer's 1865 opera L'Africaine commits suicide by lying under a manchioneel tree and inhaling the plant's vapours. In the 1956 film Wind Across the Everglades, a notorious poacher named Cottonmouth (played by Burl Ives) ties a victim to the trunk of a manchioneel tree. The poor soul screams as the sap burns his skin, and the next morning he is shown dead with a painful grimace etched on his face. To the audience the image of the deadly manchioneel must have been familiar to some degree.

There is also an old English slang term manchioneel hands, found in the Caribbean region. Handling dry manchioneel may not be harmful as the poison cannot very easily penetrate dry skin. If the hands are brought to contact with mucous membranes however, for example with the lips or the genitals, poisoning can occur. Thus "manchioneel hands" came to describe hands that are discoloured e.g. from dyestuffs or dirt, or otherwise "tainted." It now can mean anything ranging from discoloured hands to sweating hands or any hand related abnormality.




The mahogany tree was introduced into Barbados after the Treaty of Paris in 1763. Seen widely over the island, the second photo shows the road to Cherry Tree Hill lined with Mahogany trees, it has obvious uses in furniture manufacture.


ALL IN ALL fascinating.