Greetings from aboard the National Geographic Quest! Today was an exciting and breezy day. Winds were from the east for most of the day and although we did get a few short showers, they interspersed with sunny skies. The Bird Tower is a big favorite and today did not disappoint. 4000 red footed booby birds were estimated to live in this colony on the last census in Dec 2017. Four thousand! The downy babies that were closely guarded by one of the parents last week, have doubled in size and are now big enough to be left alone in the nest while both parents fly off to the surrounding Caribbean Sea to find food. In the background the constant clicking, clucking and numerous sounds from the male magnificent frigatebirds escalates momentarily as a female circles slowly scoping out the candidates. She leaves, unimpressed by their efforts and inflated bright red gular pouches. At the base of the tower, the sign draws the attention of the guests as they wait to take their turn on the observation platform. But it’s not what the sign says that they are looking at but instead, it’s what is crawling on the sign – a dark brown lizard. No, wait…it’s green, it’s changing color as we’re looking at it! Allison’s anole is a species of lizard endemic to Lighthouse Reef. Another bird seen today from the Bird Tower was a beautiful white-crowned pigeon. Birders and non-birders alike walked down from the observation platform smiling and fascinated by the sounds and sights seen in the branches of the ziricote trees in the littoral forest on Half Moon Caye.
At the other end of the island, on the east side and just behind the protection of the reef crest, the snorkelers were also seeing wonderful things. The favorites were the very colorful parrotfish – stoplight, princess, redfin, yellowtail and queen! Like swimming in an aquarium!