Students christen cahow ‘Duffy’ on Nonsuch Island
On Sunday, May 6, Warwick Academy students in the Natural History Club and Y12 ESS students spent the morning at Nonsuch Island to see the results of almost 60 years of restorative conservation work on this world famous, 15-acre nature reserve.
Bermuda Government Conservation Officer Jeremy Madeiros and his predecessor, David Wingate, who was the founder of the Nonsuch Island Living Museum Project, were both on hand to share their decades of incredible botanical and ornithological conservation knowledge.
Our students encountered both adult longtails and cahow chicks as Jeremy conducted routine nest-site and growth monitoring checks.
As the cahow recovery programme is now seeing record-breaking success, it is becoming traditional for visiting tour groups to be given the honour of choosing a name for cahow chicks hatched at the Nonsuch translocation site.
Our group unanimously agreed on the name “Duffy” for an 8-week-old male chick.
Hopefully, he will go on to achieve great things like his triathlete namesake, Flora!
In their final hour on the island, the students were also able to give back something to the conservation programme by assisting with the clearing of cattail rush from the fresh-water pond habitat.
Two years of rush encroachment had completely closed in the open water areas needed by resident moorhens and migratory wetland bird species for feeding and drinking.
At first glance it seemed like an insurmountable task but before long, some students were up to their necks (literally) in cold, muddy water, uprooting large root mats and floating them to the pond edge where others washed the mud from the roots and passed them up to a shore team who dragged the heavy plant material to a pile under the trees.
With teamwork and perseverance, we soon made a large dent in the job but unfortunately, time was too short to finish the job.
Our students enjoyed a quick swim in the sea to rinse off the mud before heading home to their studies.
Jibril Taylor and Roxy Crockwell-Laurent were able to stay for the remainder of the day and, with some additional recruits Alexis Moore and Nico Davis from Sandys Secondary Middle School and Malaikah Coleman, who is home-schooled, we were able to complete the job.
It was an exhausting but exhilarating and satisfying volunteer experience for everyone and, almost immediately, the moorhen emerged from the vegetation to enjoy the new expanse of open water.
As their reward, the volunteers got to spend the next two hours enjoying the south beach, where Jibril Taylor, our sharp-eyed naturalist, managed to find two unusual creatures that even I had never seen before: a juvenile dolphin fish (mahi-mahi) and an, as yet, unidentified species of swimming sea hare.
Jibril lives to prove that there is so much cool stuff to discover in Bermuda, if only you open your eyes.
Natural History Club students present: Grace Flannery, Isabel Hughes, Jibril Taylor and Katya Williamson (Y7); and Roxy Crockwell-Laurent (Y8)
Y12 ESS Students present: Macy Aicardi, McKenzie Hassell, Conor Hay, Katrina McPhee, Jude Moseley, Isabelle Perry, Naomi Proctor, Cassie Roberts, Asha Symons, Mika Woods and Magdelena Worman