Located just off the eastern tip of Anguilla, Scrub Island IBA is separated from the main island by a channel merely 500 meters wide. The best location to arrive is at Scrub Bay on the western side. This lovely expanse of beach is a great spot for a picnic and a swim. Like all of Anguilla’s offshore cays, visitors should be mindful of the sea conditions. May through August is generally the best time to visit this uninhabited island.
A short hike over the dunes and visitors will find a salt pond where a number of species of land birds, waterfowl and shorebirds may be seen and often nest. Proceed to the south or right side of the pond, until you find the path that heads east.
Continuing east, the ruins of animal pens and an old well are present among the growth of low scrub, barrel cactus, century plants, and wild frangipani.
On the right side of the path as you head east, the remains of an old plane are still visible. Anguillan history tells us that the plane was owned by a smuggler who paid the price for his activities and ended up in jail.
No trip to Scrub Island is complete without a snorkel in the caves where beautiful reef fish abound and a Nurse Shark with pups might surprise you.
Keep an eye out for at least three of Anguilla’s Lesser Antilles Restricted Range species including the Pearly-eyed Thrasher, Caribbean Elaenia, and Lesser Antillean Bullfinch. A variety of doves, Bananaquits, and Black-faced Grassquits are often seen. A Yellow Warbler may even make an appearance as Common Ground Lizards scurry across the arid landscape.
At the end of what was an old landing strip is a series of lagoons right behind Deadman’s Bay. The wide beach is an excellent spot for shelling. A baby shark or two will most certainly be seen lurking in those waters.
Look for nesting Willets and Wilson’s Plovers in these shallow ponds while gulls and terns rest and feed along the edge.
Proceed on to the eastern beaches where Laughing Gulls and Anguilla’s only colony of Roseate Terns nest in numbers that carry global significance. Further, Least and Royal Terns are regionally significant. Other nesting species to look out for include: Red-billed Tropicbird, Sandwich Tern, Bridled Tern and Brown Noddy.
Although not known to nest at this location, Brown Boobies and Magnificent Frigatebirds can be seen soaring overhead.
Access to Scrub Island IBA is available via boat. Nature Explorers Anguilla conducts tours to the offshore cays on an arranged charter basis. The trip to Scrub Island IBA is approximately 15 to 20 minutes via boat from the Island Harbour dock. The safest landings are at Scrub Bay.
Junior’s Glass Bottom Boat and Nature Boy Tours also take guests out to explore the island and snorkel the caves. These are not birding excursions.