Frigate bird colony on Barbuda

In the northern part of Barbuda is one of the world’s largest colonies of Frigate birds. To visit it we first took a rather expensive trip by taxi from Shack-A-Kai to Codrington, pay a fee to be allowed to visit the nature reserve and finally a boat trip to the mangrove swamp where the colony is located.

A male frigate bird showing how good he looks

Honestly, there is not much to see on the way to Codrington, the only community on Barbuda. The island consists mostly of sand with shrub vegetation and the island is very flat and thus no view is offered either. So the taxi ride goes along a gravel road with low bushes and trees on both sides. The only historic building we saw was an old fort (Martello Tower) located between Palmetto Point and the harbor.

Close to the island’s only ship harbor is a sand dune where they dig up sand that is shipped to Antigua and in a limited amount abroad. The port is located near Palmetto Point (the southwestern tip of Barbuda) and is used for all heavier transports to and from the island, and there is a ferry connection with Antigua that departs from here.

Codrington and hurricane Irma 2017

Codrington is the island’s only community and is located on a shallow inland sea, the Codrington Lagoon. There are still many destroyed houses left since Hurricane Irma passed here on the night of September 6, 2017. The hurricane destroyed about 90% of all buildings on the island. As it was feared that Hurricane Jose could also hit Barbuda 2 days later, all 1800 inhabitants of the island were evacuated to Antigua. Many have probably moved back, but not all judging by how many houses still look abandoned and uninhabitable.

Codrington has a small harbor on the inland sea where the taxi drove us. Here we had to pay the fee for a stay in the nature reserve and wait a while for the guide to come with the boat and drive us to the colony. In the meantime, we could take it easy and see how some fishermen took up a large cage with lobsters. A very quiet port in other words.

The taxi driver said that the buildings in the harbor were rebuilt after the hurricane four years ago. Part of the land ice that bounded the inland sea to the west disappeared in the hurricane and a several hundred meter wide opening was created.

The boat trip to the mangrove swamp where the bird colony is located took about 30 minutes. Unfortunately, we got a guide who did not tell us anything about the birds which I think was a shame. We saw many frigate birds up close, the whole colony is said to contain up to 20,000 birds and be one of the largest in the world.

After the visit to the frigate birds, we were hungry and unfortunately, there was no restaurant to visit for us. We had also hoped to be able to buy fresh vegetables in the store, but there were almost no vegetables at all when we were there. The taxi driver was able to help us get a takeaway we could take to the boat, and also buy tomatoes from a private person with his own tomato farm in Codrington.

Up next

After about a week at Cocoa Point, the wind will turn to the southeast and increase. Then it is better to anchor at Spanish Point because the reef provides better protection against the swell from the Atlantic.

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