Wildlife

Creative Crab

crab

Festive Crabs As a simple island observer I can tell you that the hermit crabs have returned from wherever they’ve been the last few months. Recently the visits have dramatically increased in number, as dozens can be heard rustling around the roots of the trees in the yard. I have no idea what they’re doing, … Read more

Pelican Punchline

pelican

Pelican Punchline I figure pelicans have a dry sense of humor.  I would not expect a pelican to guffaw loudly at a joke. Perhaps he would snicker slowly, but only if it was really good.  They certainly don’t need us, and pretty much ignore our existence during feeding time off the shallow shores of St. … Read more

Hello, Pineapple

pineapple

Hello, Pineapple Despite their prickly appearance, the pineapple is a symbol of welcome and hospitality. They are relatively easy to grow here on St. John, if you have good soil, lots of water, and some patience. A single pineapple plant will yield just one fruit every two years and require a couple square feet of … Read more

Hanging on the Vine

allamanda

Hanging on the Vine As the weather on St. John gets drier, it’s hard not to appreciate the drought-tolerant vines of the island. Like other weeds, they don’t just survive, they flourish in dry weather.  Unlike most weeds, however, these give the island amazing color and raise everyone’s spirits. Take the Bougainvillea, for example, a … Read more

Kestrel Hawks

kestrel

The Kestrel Kestrels are those cool mini-falcon looking birds that lucky folks will see around St. John.  Each year I await the arrival of my new kestrel family, who are thankfully partial to using a nearby bat nest as their home. There’s a lot of squawking during mating season, but once the deed is done, … Read more

Naming T’ings

Turpentine Tree

Naming T’ings Since I can remember I have been told that this sturdy, prevalent island tree was called a Turpentine tree. A search online, however, reveals that this Caribbean trees with reddish bark that peels is actually a Bursera simaruba, a.k.a. gumbo-limbo. Whichever camp you’re in, turpentine or gumbo-limbo, the local nickname is far better: … Read more

Hermit Crab Central

Comin’ Down the Mountain There are more hermit crabs on St. John than any other critter. That may not be a fact provided by the government, but trust me, St. John is Hermit Crab Central. Every year, from across the island, they descend, albeit slowly, to a single location on the shore. It is not … Read more

Whale Watch

whale watch

Whale Watch I could set my clock to the humpback whales arriving in the Virgin Islands. As if on spring break, the pod arrives end of February (February 25th, to be exact) on the south shore of St. John. For the last decade, at least, I’ve witnessed the whales with my own eyes, coming heartwarmingly … Read more

Jacks & Jennies

Jacks and Jennies

Jacks & Jennies Originally brought to the island for hauling and transportation, donkeys remain a big part of St. John life. Jacks (male donkeys) and jennies (female donkeys) roam freely across the island, from the hiking trails along North Shore to the tasty home vegetable gardens of the residents out on the East End, making … Read more