Little Cayman’s Booby Pond Nature Reserve on the island’s south side features a land-locked saltwater lagoon with mangrove margins and old growth dry forest.
The site is home to the largest red-footed booby colony in the Caribbean along with Cayman’s only breeding colony of magnificent frigate birds.
It is now the height of booby breeding season, and the National Trust’s Environmental programs manager Paul Watler says that at latest count, the colony had about 2,500 active nests.
Booby populations are falling across the Caribbean, so the large size of the Little Cayman colony is proving significant; scientists believe it now represents at least a third of the birds’ entire Caribbean and Atlantic population.
In 1994, the 334-acre reserve was designated as a “Wetland of International Significance” under the terms of the Ramsar Convention (an international treaty on the conservation of wetlands) and it is the only Ramsar site in the Cayman islands.
The Trust notes that while the southern margins of the pond are in private ownership they are protected under the Cayman Islands’ Animals Law, which prohibits the disturbance of any form of plant or animal life within the reserve’s boundaries.
Birdwatchers can access the National Trust’s visitors center’s rooftop viewing deck and telescopes.
The boobies and the opportunistic frigate birds wage a daily battle over the squid and small fish the boobies bring home to feed their young, a fascinating sight to behold as the boobies band together in flocks to stave off the predatory frigate birds.