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Archive for July, 2011

Today marked the end of this year’s war against the thrushies, which went very much like  last year’s war.

Thrushies or Pearly-Eyed Thrashers, (Margarops fuscatus), are birds commonly found here on St. John. They are described in a Wikopedia article as “aggressive and opportunistic,” and that they are.

Every year these bold, brazen thieves and I wage a war with the prize being my delicious Malika mangoes.

When it came down to the two last mangoes on the tree, the outcome was a draw: one for me, one for da t’rushie dem.

st john flora: mango

My Mango

mango for the thrushie

The Thrushie's Mango

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St John Flora: Frangipani Caterpillars

Frangipani Caterpillars, Pseudosphinx tetrio

Frangipani Caterpillars are also called Frangipani Worms or Frangipani Hornworms because of the spike on their rear end.

They start out by hatching from eggs laid on the underside of the leaves of frangipani trees or sometimes allamanda bushes.

They grow quickly. Their skin is not flexible so they shed their skin as they grow. They may molt five or six times before they reach their full size.

Being that the sap of the frangipani is poisonous to most animals including human beings, the frangipani caterpillars have no enemies. Their bright color serves to warn potential predators not to indulge.

Meanwhile its been my experience that they will eat every last flower and every last leaf on the tree before they fall off and begin the next stage of their development.

The tree does not die, however, and new leaves will grow back. Looking under the tree are copious quantities of small black pellets that could only be caterpillar poop and my guess is that this fertilizes the tree to stimulate the next cycle of growth.

The caterpillars eventually fall off the tree and become become pupae, encased in a shell. Given time they will incubate and become large moths.

The moths also serve to help the tree grow back by acting as pollinators.

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I was crossing the Pillsbury Sound this afternoon and took another look at the grounded “Fast Ferry” the Royal Miss Belmar.

Looking at where it hit the island and the direction it was going, I can’t begin to imagine how a boat leaving Cruz Bay, bound for St. Croix, could end up on those rocks.

Was the captain trying to pass through Current Cut or trying to pass south out of  Pillsbury Sound?

But no matter how you look at it it makes no sense.

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Royal Miss Belmar Aground on Little St. James, US Virgin Islands

Royal Miss Belmar Aground on Great St. James, USVI

On the night of July 4, the Royal Miss Belmar, an 89-foot passenger ferry, ran aground on Great St James Island with 102 people aboard. Passengers and crew were rescued by the US Coast Guard and Good Samaritan boat crews. Five people were injured.

How did it happen?

No official word out yet.

A little to the right and it might have been worse

I was out that night with Jacob watching the fireworks. The Royal Miss Belmar was anchored close by. They left when we did. shortly after the finale.

The night was dark. The swells were really big that day in Pillsbury Sound especially in the area of the St. Jameses.

The Miss Belmar was headed for St. Croix. She as seaward (west ) of the buoy marking the reef that extends out from Gallows Point and was safely in the Pillsbury Sound. All she had to do was leave the channel between St. John and the row of islands on the other side, south of St. Thomas, Great St. James, Little St. James, Dog Island and Dog Rocks. Plenty of room here.

It was dark, but you should be able to see an island. Looks like the Miss Belmar was equipped with radar as well. I wonder what the captain has to say.

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jacob plays terminator at westin st john virgin islands

Terminator

Well, it’s been some time since my last post. Been busy with the complete revision of my “Vieques” book, in both English and Spanish and spending lots of time with my kid, Jacob.

After the big flood, the Westin rebuilt and renovated quickly and was back online in a matter of weeks. The beach was cleaned up, the tennis courts resurfaces, the kitchen and dining areas upgraded. Everything except the game room.

When jacob asked me about the games, I had to say that there were none, well almost none. “Why?’ he asked.

“I don’t know.”

“When will they be back?”

I don’t know.”

“Let’s go check,” he says and I am pessimistic to say the least, but to placate him we head over to the Westin to check. It turns out that that very day they’re setting up all new games. Cool ones too. Terminator with machine guns, a cool car racing game, state of the art air hockey, a retro style pin ball game that turns out to be the best pin ball game I’ve ever played and soon come X- Box, games which they say will be changed monthly and which will be using the “Connect” technology.

If you have kids or just like games, check it out!

Air Hockey

Juke Box

Photo Booth

Pin Ball

Terminator

X-Box

Jacob Plays “Terminator” at the Westin Game Room

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Brought to you by Gerald Singer, St. John US Virgin Islands (USVI)