I didn't go to Barbados for the birds, but I got them anyway. They seemed to come with the territory. In fact on the very first morning, unable to sleep and up before first light, I shared the dawn with a hummingbird, a green legged heron who languidly walked across the lawn looking for frogs, and a beautiful grey and white kingbird; a flycatcher that the Bajans call the rainbird and sometimes the catbird.
It wasn't long before the cheeky Barbadian sparrows arrived, so bold that they would fly into the house and take crumbs from the plates in the kitchen. Once we had half a dozen of them on the dining table making a feast of the tiny fragments of toast we'd left behind. The grackles came later with their yellow eyes and plumage as black as the darkest night. They looked like a cross between a blackbird and a starling, roguish and forever darting here and there.
Down on the beach brown grey sandpipers paddled in the white surf, whilst up in the sky flocks of huge frigate birds circled following the fishing boats, looking for all the world like prehistoric pterodactyls. Inland there were cattle egrets in the fields, small brown doves pecking beneath the palms and up in the trees the scaly naped pigeons with their scary red eyes. For some reason I didn't like the way those pigeons flapped about in the trees, it really wasn't very British.
There were other birds. A pair of yellow breasts on the Atlantic coast, a flash of blue in the rain forest near Welcheman Hall Gulley and a big white bird flapping over the sea in the distance that might just have been a pelican. I never did get a picture of a hummingbird, although I did capture a flash and buzz on one when we visited Hunte's Gardens; so I had to borrow one.
The rainbird would come every day to watch me after that first morning, sitting on the wall and quizzically cocking his head and, despite the numerous sightings of hummingbirds (once just a few feet away above the pool) I think it's the kingbird flycatcher with its pipiri pipiri call that is my favourite memory of all the birds on my trip to paradise.