Montserrat is British overseas territory located in the Leeward Islands, part of the chain of islands called the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean Sea. The island of Montserrat is located approximately 480 km (300 miles) east-southeast of Puerto Rico and 48 km (30 miles) southwest of Antigua. It comprises only 104 km² (40 square miles) and is increasing gradually owing to volcanic deposits on the southeast coast of the island; it is 16 km (10 miles) long and 11 km (7 miles) wide, with dramatic rock faced cliffs rising 15 to 30 m (50-100 feet) above the sea and smooth bottomed sandy beaches scattered among coves on the west side of the island. Montserrat has been a quiet haven of extraordinary scenic beauty. Montserrat was given its name by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the New World in 1493, after its namesake located in Catalonia. Montserrat is often referred to as the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean, due both to its resemblance to coastal Ireland and to the Irish descent of most of its early European settlers.
Its Georgian era capital city of Plymouth was destroyed and two-thirds of the island's population forced to flee abroad by an eruption of the previously dormant Soufriere Hills volcano that began on July 18, 1995. The eruption continues today on a much reduced scale, the damage being confined to the areas around Plymouth including its docking facilities and the former W.H. Bramble Airport. An exclusion zone extending from the south coast of the island north to parts of the Belham Valley has been closed because of an increase in the size of the existing volcanic dome. This zone includes St. George's Hill which provided visitors with a spectacular view of the volcano and the destruction it has wrought upon the capital. A new airport at Gerald's in the northern part of the island opened in 2005. The village of Brades currently serves as the de facto centre of government.
Montserrat has two islets: Little Redonda and Virgin.
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Number of Species
Number of bird species: 34
National Bird: Montserrat Oriole Icterus Oberi
Number of endemics: 1
Montserrat Oriole Icterus oberi
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A Field Guide to Birds of the West Indies
(Peterson Field Guides) James Bond, Don R. Eckelberry (Illustrator); Arthur B. Singer (Illustrator) Paperback (September 1999) Houghton Mifflin Company
ISBN: 0618002103Buy this book from NHBS.com
The Birds of the West Indies
By Herbert Raffaele, James Wiley, Orlando Garrido, Allan Keith & Janis Raffaele
Helm Field Guides Sept 2003 Paperback RRP ?16.99p
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ISBN: 0713654198Buy this book from NHBS.com
The Caribbean Emerald Isle of Montserrat
Part of the 'Birding In Paradise' series. Available from, and published by, The UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum - HERE
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2016 [04 April] - Jesse Fagan - Lesser Antilles
10 islands, 14 days, 14 flights, 8 hotels, 1 visit to the emergency room, drive on the right, drive on the left,...you get the picture. It requires a lot of action and movement to see these birds! And see them we did. It was another successful island-hopping adventure this year, and the logistics worked out fine on this logistically complicated tour.
Montserrat Oriole Icterus oberi
This species has always had an extremely small range, but recent volcanic eruptions have caused an extremely rapid population decline and extirpated it from all but two disjunct areas. Deposits of volcanic ash have seriously damaged the habitat of the remaining population, and further deposits or an increased frequency of hurricanes could have devastating effects. Although the trend may have since stabilised, the future of this species in the wild remains uncertain, and it consequently qualifies as Critically Endangered. Confirmation of population size and trend may lead to its downlisting in future….
Volcanic Effects on the Ecology of Montserrat
Acid rain, from the volcanic sulphur is killing the vegetation. This impacts on animals as well as plants. Animal life is practically non-existant on Chance's Peak. Surprizingly, hummingbirds were seen flying within 300 meters of the Peak. Unfortunately, their food source (nectar) is practically non-existant right now…
Birdwatching in Montserrat
Now, due to the unfortunate capriciousness of nature, the resident population of Icterus oberi has been reduced to a drastic degree, perhaps critically endangered, leaving major habitats only in the central and southern forests…