Big plans are under way for the newest National Trust acquisition, a piece of land that includes a small fresh water feature known as Uncle Sammy’s Pond in West Bay.
The 3.5 acre site is set to become a wildlife reserve similar to the Governor Gore Bird Sanctuary in Spotts, with a boardwalk and bird blind already in the works.
The 1.3 acre pond is surrounded by a seasonally-flooded fresh water wetland, and is named in honour of Sam Parsons of Mount Pleasant, whose descendants still live in West Bay.
‘These environments are fast disappearing in Cayman, yet they play a critical role in the dry season when few fresh water sources remain to sustain local wildlife,’ said Trust General Manager Frank Roulstone.
‘They also offer a critical source of food and water to the thousands of birds which migrate through on their return to the north when the dry season is at its peak.’
The Trust was fortunate that the family took the decision to preserve the pond as it was originally slated for an apartment complex.
‘In Grand Cayman, there are not many freshwater ponds that birds and animals can use during the dry season,’ said Mr. Roulstone.
‘Even though there may be water remaining beneath the soil during the dry season, most of them dry up on the surface so preserving these few open watering places is critical.’
Each year many species of water birds including the Blue-winged Teal, the Lesser Scaup and a wide variety of herons and wading birds spend their winter in the Caribbean or stop on their way to and from South America.
Blue-winged Teal were an important food resource for early settlers when flocks numbered in the thousands. Today they are regarded as a bird of beauty, and Mr. Roulstone said he hopes visitors to the pond will be keen to spot such graceful wildlife.
‘Uncle Sammy’s Pond is in the middle of a residential community and the Trust’s intention is to keep the pond as an oasis for wildlife but also a sanctuary for neighbourhood residents and visitors.
‘Keeping this a community-centred reserve is our priority, and we are hopeful people will take an interest in participating in its upkeep.’
Aside from the Trust’s plans to construct a small parking area and bird watching blind, much of the site will also be replanted with native vegetation. The site will be fenced to exclude pets that could interfere with the safety of the wildlife and visitors.
‘We look forward to the assistance of the West Bay community in making the necessary improvements to the site,’ added Mr. Roulstone.