We decided to check out Barefoot Beach again (3 years ago) and a new visit to snorkel under the pier of Morritt’s resort after waking up early, as usual!

Barefoot Beach supposed also had a wreck to the right, which would have been a little interesting to see wheels and bits, but we didn’t find anything, so swam out towards the breaking waves at the reef’s edge. After the usual length of seagrass we got to some good variety of corals and the usual friends of tropical fish. Being near the waves, the visibility was not as clear as Eden Rock’s open expanse, but good.

I have set a goal of finding queen conch. Technically anyone can “harvest” them between November and the end of April – so too late now! Up to 5 a day per person. But how would you carry it while snorkeling? So I just point each one out to David, and he patiently dives down and brings it up and we see if it has a conch in it or not, and then returns it in place (if you just drop them they usually land wrong way up). This morning we found 7 of them. Maybe that could be our source of income for staying here?

Then we headed off to the Resort. Would we figure out where to park? How to enter? Would we be allowed as non-guests? Yes, yes, and yes. We were the only people in the water for a while, then others came in. On the outside of the pier (and there was an entire bar/restaurant placed on this pier) the current was strong – we had considered going out a ways but decided against it. But under it and inside its crescent shape it was ok, and the inside is where some children were. Under it was a wide variety of fish, including a dozen huge tarpons, a barracuda, the usual sergeant majors and chubs (they always show up when someone is tossing in bread), a good dozen types, and even one beautiful but unwelcomed LION FISH. We showed a few people the latter as it is quite rare. We had to reward ourselves with a pina colada and a coke.

After that it was time to eat some lion fish, and we tried a new place. The sauce wasn’t as good in the tacos as Tukka’s but the chunks of fish larger. Yummy. We are trying to do our bit to rid the Caribbean of this invasive fish. We investigated the diving and snorkeling excursions run by the dive shop there. $50 for 3 stops along the reef. Guess that’s no worse than in the Keys.

Then a much needed rest before heading out for birding. The eBird reporting was for Antillean night-hawks but we didn’t see any. We had sprayed ourselves liberally with mosquito spray, as we weren’t going until 4:30 and sure needed it. We probably walked about 2 miles along the dikes and ponds – they were left over from excavation days. We met a number of people walking their dogs, including an operator of a tourist bus. He said the cruise ships only started about a month ago, but the cruise ships bring very little into the general economy anyway. Tourism is about 12% of usual! No wonder our flights had been cancelled. American Airlines usually had 12 flights arriving each day, and now has 2. Sure feel sorry for businesses here, and for our beloved Aruba although that’s been more open and for longer.

Anyway, no night-hawks, but remember the West Indian Whistling Ducks? We saw 3 the other day, as an eBirder had reported? Well, as we came out of the walking area to our car, there was one standing by the car (which was next to one of the channels), and in the grounds of the house opposite we counted a dozen!! They were everywhere – on lawn chairs and tables, on top of the roof of the gazebo, atop a light post. You name it – they were there. At one point I counted 20 of them in my sight. What a hoot (except they don’t hoot, quack, or honk – they do indeed whistle as they fly over).

When we were at our first snorkel site we saw yellow-crowned night herons – a pair of them – which we had already seen in FL. However, along with some ruddy turnstones were running some Western sandpipers – and they were indeed a new life bird for us, bringing us up to 461, with 14 new birds from here – which was completely unexpected.

We stopped by the grocery store on the way home, and at Chicken Chicken got jerk chicken and wonderful sides. Turned out to be enough for 2 meals – which we might gobble down before our vegetarian friend Jess arrives on Saturday!

I should explain the video – which you’ll have to see from the link on the email. We knew that sergeant majors – the very common yellow and black striped fish – turned to blue and black stripes when they were guarding eggs. They also get very aggressive and go in and out of their space towards intruders. But we have never had the chance to video their behavior. We aren’t sure if they are laying eggs or fertilizing them, but as you’ll see, they go over and over the patch, which is usually pink or purple on rocks, or, in this case, on the pylons of the pier.

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