Chances of catching a glimpse of our national bird, the Montserrat Oriole has greatly increased now that it has been taken off the critically endangered list. Your chances improve even more when you book a tour with the incomparable naturalist James “Scriber” Daley or one of the guides he has trained.
The now active Soufriere Hills Volcano was the natural habitat for the Montserrat Oriole. After the eruptions began in 1995 the bird population dropped from tens of thousands to the low hundreds, migrating to the Centre Hills. Thanks to the work of the Department of Environment, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and naturalists such as Scriber the population has increased to more than 500, which enabled it to be downgraded to vulnerable in 2016.
The tiny yellow and black bird can be reclusive but will answer when called. This is often one of the fascinating aspects of hiking with the guide, who runs Scriber’s Adventures & Tours. Your chances of seeing the bird up close increases from thirty to ninety percent with a guide. “They will check you out, but you won’t see them,” says Scriber.
Some people have labeled Scriber the Bird Whisperer because of his affinity to the birds which live here and those which visit annually as they migrate South. He discovered his interest and ability to identify the birds at the age of nine. He is a co-author of Birding in Paradise – The Caribbean Emerald Isle Montserrat published in 2015 by the UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum.
Although retired after 35 years as a forest ranger, Scriber continues to share his love for birds and Montserrat’s nature through his tours and bird watching excursions.
While the Oriole birds reside throughout the Centre Hills, preferring elevation of at least 2,437 feet, the popular Oriole Walkway is a favorite vantage point from which to call to them. Scriber’s knowledge of the birds as well as the island’s flora and fauna means that every excursion is an educational one and no two are ever the same, given his vast knowledge of the hills and Montserrat’s history.
“Montserrat’s Centre Hills is a true tropical forest. On other islands they have had to create one,” shared Scriber. “Scientists’ love doing research here because there is still a lot to discover.”
What makes a hike with Scriber special is that he guarantees you will see what you want to see. His uncanny ability to listen to the forest and hear what’s happening makes it easy for him to help hikers find the birds they want to learn more about.
“There is nothing better I enjoy than introducing residents and visitors to the secrets hidden in my Emerald Isle Montserrat. I want each person who takes a hike with me, a boat tour, or a historic trek into the past to fall in love with my home.”
To book a hike with Scriber visit scribersadventures.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is also advisable to not hike Montserrat’s trails alone as the terrain can change with heavy rains and landslides.