Explore the Wild Side of SXM at Dec. 7th Birds & Bugs Event!

scalybreastedthrasher04122013GRAND CASE:--- Residents and visitors of all ages are invited to celebrate the wildlife of the island this Saturday at Birds & Bugs 2013. The event will take place on December 7th from 9am to noon at Loterie Farm on Pic Paradis. Birds & Bugs is a free, public Wildlife Discovery Event, created by Les Fruits de Mer for locals and tourists alike to get to know the captivating creatures and birds that make their home in the forest.

The event will offer a full array of activities designed and lead by naturalists, ecologists, and other wildlife aficionados. "It's a great opportunity to learn about local wildlife from experts," says Les Fruits de Mer President Jennifer Yerkes. "We'd like to welcome everyone to come out and enjoy the day, and explore one of the island's most beautiful and significant habitats!"

Bird specialists will lead birding tours of the forest, where event-goers can discover how to look and listen for resident and migratory bird species, practice bird-watching skills to use on future outings, and learn about the unique broadleaf forest environment. Tours will be guided by Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) Senior Biologist Adam Brown, professional birding guide Binkie van Es, and Ronald Pieters, the SXM administrator for the bird-spotting site Observado.org. Tours will leave regularly throughout the event and will be available in French, English, and Dutch. Attendees who plan to go on a birding tour are recommended to bring sturdy shoes, a water bottle and their own pair of binoculars if they have one. There will be some binoculars available for sharing on the tours.

Guests can find out about the birds of the broadleaf forest at the Bird Education Station hosted by Natalia Collier, President of EPIC. Since EPIC biologists have partnered with Loterie Farm for over a decade to study the health and diversity of birds in this rare habitat, these experts have a lot to share about the amazing little avians that live in this forest. Visitors can learn to recognize birds by their song at the bird-call listening station. Young birders can pick up a Junior Birdwatcher journal and activity book as well as free bird stickers and tattoos, thanks to support from the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance and BirdsCaribbean. Bird identification cards and t-shirts will be available for a donation to support conservation efforts.

The Bug Discovery Station will give adults and kids an unforgettable opportunity to get up-close and personal with a variety of the island's insects, spiders and other invertebrates. Live insects will be on display and guests will learn about their life cycles and other fascinating facts about these small animals and their role in the local ecosystem. The Bug Discovery Station will be hosted by Mark Yokoyama, Les Fruits de Mer co-founder and author of The Incomplete Guide to the Wildlife of Saint Martin. Attendees can even get an ID on a mystery insect at the Bug Discovery Station's Bring Your Bug activity. "If you've got bugs or bug photos," says Yokoyama, "bring them along for identification at the Station!"

People of all ages can participate in the creative activities inspired by local wildlife and led by eco-artist Stephen Winkel, including coloring, sketching, and a craft. Younger kids will enjoy coloring and activity pages designed by local artists featuring island animals. Older children and adults can paint birdfeeders made from calabashes, which they can take home to attract birds throughout the year.

Birds & Bugs 2013 is made possible by the hard work and talent of over 40 volunteers, and the generous sponsorship of Calmos Café, Delta Petroleum, Island Global Yachting, Lagoon Marina and L'Esplanade Hotel.

Birds & Bugs 2013 is a co-production of the Les Fruits de Mer Association, EPIC, and Loterie Farm.

EPIC was founded in 2000 with the mission to protect the Caribbean environment through research and community-based action, and has conducted long-term studies on the birds of the island while working to raise awareness of bird conservation issues. EPIC biologists have partnered with Loterie Farm for over a decade to study the health and diversity of birds in this rare habitat.

Loterie Farm is a private nature reserve. The 54-hectare property includes broadleaf forest as well as the remains of historical buildings dating back to the 18th century. Loterie Farm safeguards the history and the environment while also sharing this unique site with the public. It is one of the most ecologically significant places on St. Martin, and has hosted a great deal of biological research, including ongoing studies of birds and other animals. Loterie Farm offers hiking and zip-lining as well as a gourmet restaurant, lounge, and spring-fed swimming pool.

Les Fruits de Mer is a non-profit association based in St. Martin whose core mission is to raise awareness about nature, culture, and sport. The organization carries out this mission through publications, an education program, and special public outreach events that entertain, inspire, and inform. The Association is currently accepting new member applications on its website, http://ass.lesfruitsdemer.org.

For more information about Birds & Bugs 2013, visit http://ass.lesfruitsdemer.org/events/ or https://www.facebook.com/events/1427136514175790/, and visit http://www.epicislands.org to learn more about EPIC.