Sanctuary is for birds, people

A momma duck waddling in front of her baby chicks sent the message to human onlookers better than words could say: thanks to the humans who have preserved the pond off the Spotts-Newlands Road.

Sanctuary is for birds, people

Governor Mr. Stuart Jack, accompanied by National Trust general manager Frank Roulstone, checks the view from the first observation point. Photo: Carol Winker

As the mother duck and her ducklings waddled to the pond Governor Stuart Jack cut the ceremonial ribbon for the recent re-opening of the Governor Gore Bird Sanctuary.

As neighbours, well-wishers and members of the National Trust observed proceedings from outside the gated area, the West Indian Whistling Duck led her baby ducks across the pond behind the gate.

This little group illustrated the point made by Trust general manager Frank Roulstone – local and migrating birds do use the pond off the Spotts-Newlands Road and accessible from Pennsylvania Avenue.

The pond truly is a sanctuary in a rapidly developing residential area, he said. ‘The pond is proof that even in developments we must preserve areas in their natural state for the benefit of not only our plants, birds and beasts, but also as sanctuaries of peace and beauty for residents and visitors.’

The site, just under two acres, is named after Michael Gore, governor of the Cayman Islands 1992-95. He established the Governor’s Fund for Nature in 1993 and money he raised was used for land purchase and preservation.

Mr. Roulstone paid tribute to Mr. Gore and landowners for their foresight and efforts to save the property, where more than 60 species of native birds have been observed.

He also thanked everyone involved in recovery efforts since Hurricane Ivan in September 2004 not only destroyed the walkway and bird blind but also exacerbated invasion by non-native plants. These will be removed and replaced by native plants.

Financial support for the rehabilitation of the sanctuary came from the Department of Tourism, BNP-Paribas Private Bank and Trust Company, Mrs. Patricia Bradley, the family of the late Arthur Biggs and the US Fish and Wildlife Service Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act.

Mr. Biggs was a nature lover confined to a wheelchair; a contribution in his memory facilitated wheelchair access.

Physical labour was provided by Mr. Paul Watler, Mr. Darvin Ebanks, Mr. Roulstone and Mr. Winston Ford, whose craftsmanship was made available by his employer, GKF Enterprises.

After the ribbon-cutting, Mr. Jack and Mr. Roulstone walked out to the cabana at the end of the dock, pausing to inspect a bird identification chart and creatures visible in the water along the way.

Mr. Roulstone thanked the governor for his participation that day and his attendance at numerous National Trust activities.

While people were still on site enjoying refreshments and conversation, a Whistling Duck settled on the roof of the cabana and stayed even when photographers galloped out for a closer view.

The Governor Gore Bird Sanctuary is open from dawn to dusk and admission is free. The Trust asks only that visitors respect the peacefulness of the neighbourhood, not bring pets, not remove flora or fauna, and not leave litter or graffiti.

Further information may be obtained from the National Trust at 949-0121.

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