Although you will see colourful gardens with flowering hibiscus, bougainvillea and other tropical plants, the island is mostly covered with scrub. The north coast has the most unspoilt open areas which have not been cultivated or built on.
There are steep cliffs of over 100ft high, with caves and sink holes, and inland are areas of dense vegetation. The most common plants are the white cedar, pigeonwood, manchineel, frangipani, five-finger trees, bromeliads and cacti. In this area you can find lizards, iguanas, snakes, bats and birds. Katouche Valley has a beach, a mangrove pond and a forest where you can find orchids and bromeliads and some patches of bamboo among the pepper cinnamon, mawby, sherry and turpentine trees.
The valley ends at Cavannagh Cave, which was mined for phosphorous in the 19th century, but now is home to bats, birds, crabs and lizards. Birdwatching is good at Little Bay, Crocus Bay’s north point and at the many ponds and coves, T2759 for information. It is intended that the wetlands will eventually become sanctuaries. Ninety three species of birds have been recorded on Anguilla, including the blue faced booby, kingfisher and the great blue heron.
The national bird is the turtle dove, which is protected. The National Trust publishes A Field Guide to Anguilla’s Wetlands, listing all the birds, flora and history of the ponds, US$15. A tree planting programme has been organized by the Anguilla Beautification Club (ABC); donations are welcome and you can ‘adopt a tree’. Contact ABC Trees, PO Box 274, Anguilla.